The biggest electronic music festival outside of Europe, and a spectacular, all-conquering force of nature – Electric Daisy Carnival has come a long way since its underground beginnings in 1991.
After a series of on-and-off raves in Los Angeles, 1997 was the year Insomniac's co-founder Pasquale Rotella took over and the first EDC as we knew it took place in Shrine Hall Expo, Los Angeles.
Throughout the years EDC has passed through and set up bases across America and all over the planet. We take a look at what makes America's answer to Ibiza so special, hunt down the distinctive characters of the festival's editions around the world, and find out what's in store for the future of one of the USA's greatest exports.
A Mind-Blowing, Unique New World
Going to an EDC festival is like stepping into someone's colourful imagination, as locations are completely transformed into a fairground-meets-fairytale dreamworld.
7.5 tons of paper confetti were used at this year's EDC Las Vegas, while festival stages range from sky-filling scenic visions to microcosms of party culture. Each area unites conceptual elements of technology and nature, with art installations from fire-breathing structures to interactive pieces providing another level of neon sensory overload.
Aside the from the LED and glow and dark environments around the festival, the carnival rides themselves are free and range from classic ferris wheels to all kinds of fun surprises, spinning and weaving through the sky.
A great addition to the vivid adventure are the many performers around the festival, both on the stages and around the rides. Circus acts, professional dancers, acrobats and all kinds of mischievous characters are constantly around for photo opps and party persuasions.
Every Edition Stands Out From the Rest
With a mission to create "an environment where you can celebrate life, love, art and music, and be the truest version of yourself," each and every event encapsulates the essence of the Electric Daisy Carnival environment.
While every edition features the famous kineticFIELD stage, the neonGARDEN area, endless free rides, phenomenal art and friendly performers alongside world-dominating electronic lineups, there are a few things that set each event apart.
EDC Las Vegas is the worldwide mother ship event. The largest of all, its 2015 attendance totalled 400,000 ravers over 3 days; meanwhile the kineticFIELD is the single biggest festival main stage in North America.
The Vegas edition also boasts a grandstand where you can get a fantastic view of the whole festival landscape, and two stages with a character all of their own: the wasteLAND features "harder styles of music," and the jumping funkHOUSE stage packs in sounds of soul, funk, hiphop and RnB.
Away from the Mojave Desert, EDC Orlando, EDC UK and EDC New York distil the experience down into bitesize versions that, while not on the same scale of the Vegas edition, still impress by embodying the authentic EDC experience.
And each one has its own quirks, with areas and stages that reflect the local dance scene of each host city. Orlando's neonGARDEN and the UK's cosmicMEADOW are havens for trance fans, while New York's neonGARGEN is the go-to place for house and techno. Fans of bass, trap and drum 'n' bass should check out New York's cosmicMEADOW; worshippers of dubstep, hiphop and trap would love Orlando's Circuit Grounds, and further south at EDC Mexico, the country's household names and finest up-and-coming talent are celebrated on the localFLAVOR stage.
Every year promises special memories and unbelievable highlights. We've stretched back through EDC's incredible history to pick out 3 moments that sum up the unique atmosphere that only Electric Daisy Carnival can create.
#1 - At 2015's Las Vegas event, Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston appeared on stage to press the play button for Above & Beyond's song "Walter White."
#2 - Las Vegas is also famous for spontaneous weddings, and 2013 saw the introduction of wedding chapels at the event. Packages included all kinds of perks from an "Electric Daisy Bouquet" to an "Electric Elvis" themed ceremony.
#3 - EDC has been captured in not one but TWO documentaries: the Electric Daisy Carnival Experience (2001) featured live concert footage and interviews with the likes of David Guetta, Moby, Deadmau5 and Will.i.am, while Under The Electric Sky (2014) chronicled the "community and life of festival-goers" and had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
A Bold, Colourful Future
So as the "owl community" turns its gaze to the future, what lies in wait across the globe? EDC's South American adventure will finally get underway when the party machine rolls into São Paulo this December. EDC Brasil's inaugural two-day spectacular is set to feature Tiësto, Skrillex, Martin Garrix, Jamie Jones, Yellow Claw, Knife Party and countless more artists from the frontline of electronic music, as well as the super fun boomboxARTCAR – a mobile art piece with a travelling DJ, taking the party from one end of the festival to the next.
And just around the corner, EDC Tokyo will mark Insomniac's first ever venture into Asia in July 2016. But by bit, the world's biggest travelling Carnival is making its way to every corner of the planet, and if the last quarter-century is anything to go by, we're in for a hell of a ride.