For many years, tourists have been visiting Spain for its weather, cuisine, history and relaxed atmosphere. Increasingly, however, visitors are also arriving in the country in order to sample one of the many world-class music festivals available throughout the year. After all, wading through the mud and rain at established events in Northern Europe pales in comparison to the promise of blue skies, warm sun, and excellent performers!
One of the most successful of all the Spanish festivals is Sonar, the well-known electronic music event which takes place in Barcelona every June. In fact, the 2013 festival was the 20th to take place in the Catalan capital, and it has proved so popular that it has spawned franchise events in cities such as Osaka, Tokyo, and Reykjavik. With over 80,000 attendees in 2013, Sonar transforms Barcelona into the capital of electronica, and also showcases innovative artists and film-makers in venues throughout the city. Split into two parts – Sonar by Day and Sonar by Night – the music programme itself routinely features some of the biggest names in world dance music.
Astonishingly, Sonar is not the biggest music festival to take place in Barcelona, let alone Spain. Traditionally held a few weeks before the extravaganza of electronic music, Primavera Sound attracts over 100,000 attendees, and showcases the best independent music in the world. With past acts including luminaries such as Sonic Youth, The White Stripes, New Order and Portishead, a visitor could almost think that they were at Glastonbury. The hot summer sun and the beautiful surroundings of the Parc del Forum leisure site, however, soon remind tourists that they are on the shores of the Balearic sea.
If Barcelona doesn’t appeal, then fans of electronic and indie music could also sample the delights of the Festival Internacional de Benicassim, which takes place in the town of the same name, on the Costa del Azahar. This event traditionally attracts a young and vibrant audience, which is perhaps unsurprising given its proximity to several gorgeous beaches. In a similar vein to Sonar, it doesn’t only showcase famous musicians, but also provides space for up-and-coming artists, fashion designers, and film-makers. Whilst not quite as popular as the Barcelona festivals in terms of size, it nonetheless routinely attracts crowds of over 50,000 people.
Numerous other indie and electronica festivals can be found in Spain, including Benidorm’s aptly named “Low Cost Festival“, which translates the resort’s budget philosophy to the music world. The country also has other kinds of musical events to offer the discerning tourist, however, such as the San Sebastian Jazzaldia. One of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe, it also attracts well over 100,000 visitors a year. For a more ‘Spanish’ feel, tourists may wish to sample the Granada International Festival, which combines some of the best classical music in the world with a sprinkling of flamenco and other traditional Southern European styles.
Of course, it would be foolish for any visitor simply to jet into Spain for a music festival and not see any of the other attractions which the country has to offer. Often, these will require the ability to travel, and most attendees at festivals will find it useful to have private transport on hand. This can help in transporting tents, food, clothing and even musical instruments, should you be tempted to join in! Enjoy the music, soak up the sun, and see as much of this beautiful country as you can.