Mayday is an electronic music festival held in Dortmund, Germany and Katowice, Poland. Occasionally regional editions take place in Russia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary and other countries. The festival was launched in 1991 and has since become one of the biggest electronic music festivals in Europe.

The Mayday festival was initiated by German DJ, techno musician and events producer Fabian Lenz also known under the moniker DJ Dick. He launched the festival in order to save the East German youth radio station DT64 (now known as MDR Sputnik) that was supposed to be closed after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first Mayday festival was held on December 14, 1991 under the motto “Best of House & Techno”. The event was a huge success. It featured 18 DJs and attracted about 5,000 attendees.

Inspired by the success of the first festival, Lenz decided to make it a regular event. The second edition took place on April 30, 1992 in Cologne. It drew 12,000 music lovers. From 1992 to 1999, Mayday was a biannual event. The spring edition was held in Dortmund, while the winter edition took place in Berlin and once in Frankfurt. The winter edition was discontinued in 1997 because of venue problems.

By that moment, Mayday had begun to attract music fans from neighboring countries. Due to its growing popularity, a group of enthusiasts from Poland launched their own version of Mayday. It basically replaced Winter Mayday. Poland’s edition of the festival is held in the city of Katowice around November 10.

There have been attempts to organize the Mayday music festival in other countries. The first edition of Mayday in Russia took place on May 9, 2002 in Saint Petersburg. Eight years later, it moved to Moscow. Minsk, the capital of Belarus, also had hosted the festival several times until it was canceled due to lack of funding.

Since its inception, Mayday has grown to become one of the biggest indoor electronic music festivals in Europe. For example, Mayday Dortmund attracts over 21,000 music lovers every year. The program features the best DJs from around the globe. Originally, the festival focused on techno, but today it presents different genres of contemporary electronic music including trance, progressive house, and experimental genres. Every edition of the festival has is theme and anthem.

Mayday in Dortmund

Photo by Arne Müseler