At the turn of the millennium, hardcore was beginning to reach its commercial peak. Having soundtracked the 90s European rave scene, the genre needed to reinvent itself, and artists such as Luna and The Prophet started experimenting during sets, turning down the BPM and also introducing something called a "reverse bass", which is essentially created by flipping round the kick drum beat.
Despite this new sound taking on many of the traits of hardcore, its new direction was christened hardstyle due to its nuanced characteristics, and has gone onto become one of the most prominent sub-genres of EDM since its Dutch inception.
To celebrate the scene's continued growth, we have a run down of the top festivals for hardstyle on the current circuit, all of which are guaranteed to have your hearts racing and fists pumping in no time.
Festival lineup (2019): Brennan Heart, Angerfist, Ran-D, Noisecontrollers, DJ Coone, Da Tweekaz, Wildstylez, Mad Dog
The most famous, well-loved, and still the ultimate.
Over a decade of earth-shattering beats and sky-splitting visual effects, Defqon.1 has risen up as the biggest and greatest harder styles gathering on the planet.
The fire has spread to Santiago de Chile and Sydney, though Q-dance's spirit and atmosphere will never find another home quite like the Netherlands.
When & where: June 2020; Biddinghuizen, Netherlands
Festival lineup: Angerfist, Warface, D-Sturb, Sub Zero Project, DJ Coone, Dr. Peacock, Ran-D, Aftershock
Celebrate the hard side of life with this all nigth party in Munich alongside some of the scene's best DJs.
When & where: 29 November 2019; Munich, Germany
Festival lineup: Miss K8, Atmozfears, Radical Redemption, Dr. Peacock, Warface, D-Ceptor, Partyraiser
Toxicator is very clear in its musical focus; strictly hardcore, hardstyle and hard techno. Each genre has its own dedicated stage in Mannheim's famous Mainmarkethalle, and all three stages are packed from start to finish with the scene's leading lights.
When & where: 7 December 2019; Mannheim, Germany
Festival lineup: Bad Company UK, Micropoint, Vandal, Detest, The Speed Freak, Neonlight
X-Massacre is one of Prague's most hardcore electronic music festivals, showcasing a high-octane lineup that encompasses drum and bass, hardcore, techno, neurofunk and other variations of the harder music styles, creating a festive rave that well and truly propels you into the Christmas spirit.
When & where: 20 December 2019; Prague, Czech Republic
Festival lineup: Angerfist, Radical Redemption, Miss K8, Tha Playah, Dr. Peacock, Atmozfears
Germany's self-appointed 'Ambassadors in Harder Styles' have been bringing the biggest of beats to Dortmund for over a decade.
Four spectacularly eye-catching stages and more than 50 acts make the 11-hour party a true hardstyle hotspot.
When & where: 5 October 2019; Dortmund, Germany
Festival lineup (2019): Partyraiser, Andy The Core, NSD, Sick & Core
Pounding through a night-long journey to each and every corner of hardstyle, Ground Zero will be making a stop at hardcore, early hardcore, freestyle, raw hardstyle and all the industrial genre twists in between.
Set inside a dense forest beside the enchanting Bussloo Lake, Ground Zero's seven stages and pulsating pyros will leave you emerging a different person.
When & where: 29 August 2020; Bussloo, Netherlands
I Am Hardstyle
Festival lineup: Brennan Heart, Wildstylez, D-Block & S-Te-Fan, Ran-D, Sound Rush, Warface, B-Front, Sub Zero Project
Championing the harder styles community, this collaborative festival between hardstyle icon Brennan Heart and promoters Musical Madness has gone global with recent editions in Austria, Poland, and even Australia – an indication of harder styles international adoration.
When & where: 25 January 2020; Mannheim, Germany
Festival lineup: Miss K8, Headhunterz, Radical Redemption, Rad-D, D-Block & S-Te-Fan, D-Sturb, Sound Rush, B-Front
The original hardstyle event, Qlimax was the reason Q-dance took on the genre as their brand.
After a run of successful nights back in the early 2000s, the Dutch promoters just knew what they had was going to be huge, and it was true.
When & where: 23November 2019; Arnhem, Netherlands
Decibel Outdoor Festival
Festival lineup (2019): Atmozfears, Wildstylez, Brennan Heart, Dr. Peacock, B-Frontliner, Headhunterz, Miss K8, Noisecontrollers
A genuine contender for the crown of best hardstyle event, Decibel is increasingly convincing hardstyle fans across the globe that it could be the best there is. Year on year the festival offers almost unparalleled lineups, production and atmosphere, all in the nation of the genre's birth.
When & where: 21-23 August 2020; Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands
Festival lineup: Angerfist, Current Value, Koven, Madface, Muzzy, Deadly Guns, TNT AKA Technoboy & Tuneboy
In a country that has become a hotbed for drum and bass, there is naturally no shortage of that genre on this Czech festival's lineup.
However Imagination also dedicates a stage to harder styles, with some of the scene's biggest names ensuring high BPMs across the board.
When & where: 22 November 2019; Prague, Czech Republic
Already got those fists pumping? Why not check out Festicket's full range of hardstyle festivals.