Festival season has officially landed. And if you are in Spain all summer you will not miss out. There is a plethora of great festivals – some closer to Marbella (MTV Gib Calling & Starlite) but you won’t have to travel far to get in on the tech, rock, indie or mainstream circuit as a short drive or flight away could take you to the most happening places. We have rounded up the best festivals so take your pick of the ones you want to attend.
Billed as one of the biggest Spanish music festivals with 3 stages and 18 hours of music a day this year more than ever, there is something for everyone. The electronic music space inside Primavera Sound inaugurated in 2016 continues to expand with the Xiringuito Aperol on which the festival will kick off on each of the three main days in the Parc del Fòrum. The music will literally reach the beach for the first time thanks to this area, in which as well as dancing to the sessions by heavyweights such as Four Tet, Daphni and Floating Points, festivalgoers will be able to have a swim and taste the popular paellas as well as see top global acts.
Headliners: Arctic Monkeys, Björk, The National, Migos, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
When: 30 May – 3 June 2018
Price: €80 – €185
How to get there: Fly 1 hour / Train 6 hours / Drive 7 hours
Sonar is the pinnacle of the electronic dance music scene, pulling in the finest names but also those emerging from the underground, with a track record of spotting what’s hot that’s second to none. There’s also some time to explore the electronic genre further, with conferences and talks by leading industry professionals and creatives. As the festival has got so big in recent years there is a cult following of party goers who descend on Barcelona in June to attend ‘Anti-Sonar’ where the bars, restaurants and clubs in the city are rammed every night to cater for their own growing following as the festival spills out of its city landmark. Either or are good. Maybe take the week off and go to both Sonar and Anti-Sonar? Just a thought.
Headliners: LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz, Diplo
When: 14-16 June 2018
Price: €195 – 2 Day Ticket
How to get there: Fly 1 hour / Train 6 hours / Drive 7 hours
FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE BENICASSIM
Or FIB as it is affectionately known, is one of the powerhouses of the Spanish festival scene. Apart from MTV Gib Calling it attracts the biggest names in music and sells out well before its scheduled July date. Located close to the beach revellers often camp on site or have huge after parties on the stunning coastline well into the early hours after the top billed bands play their sets. Definitely one from the younger crowd, if we had to liken it to its UK equivalent V Festival would be its younger sibling. If you are 40 plus give this a miss. 18-30 year olds will be in their element.
2018 Headliners: The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Travis Scott
When: 19-22 July 2018
How to get there: Fly 1 hour / Train 4 hours / Drive 6 hours
Representing the sharper edge of rock music is Azkena Rock. The two-day June rock festival compliments a line-up that reaches from punk rock to classic rock, from cult favourites to legends, all with an uncommercial feel that solidifies its 15-year history upon a foundation of love of rock and roll. Not one for the golden oldies (60 plus) as the Funktion 1 sound system may blow their granny bashers off but the crowd is definitely 30 plus. A good craic and lots of friendly people so if you are 25 and your 45 year old mum drags you there…go, you will have a good time.
Headliners: Joan Jett & The Black Hearts, Gluecifer, MC5, Turbonegro
When: 22-23 June 2018
How to get there: Fly
Starlite is back for its fifth year in the stunning, acoustically beckoning quarry situated behind Marbella’s infamous Golden Mile. The small, but close knit, open-air venue, that has housed greats including Elton John and Santana is back with a bang. Sting is the biggest act in 2018 but do not be fooled; almost every night from July 11 to August 25 there are top singers, bands, tributes, club nights, arts and fashion shows along with the Starlite Village with its plentiful food and drink venues to keep the Marbella masses entertained. This is one intimate venue that has to be seen to be believed.
Headliners: Sting, James Blunt, Pet Shop Boys, Jamiroquai, Il Divo
When: 11 July – 25 August 2018
Price: €55 – €395 (depending on the act & seating)
How to get there: Taxi
BILBAO BBK LIVE
Bilbao BBK ticks all boxes with its mountainous backdrop, nestled on the slopes of the Arriaz Mountains with an intimate atmosphere away from the city itself, the festival provides some of the most fantastic views over Bilbao. Bilbao BBK has been nominated for “Best Foreign Festival” at the UK Festival Awards and for “Best-Medium Sized European Festival” three times running at the European Festival Awards. If its breath-taking scenery, great acts and a great crowd vibe you are after (holistic and earth loving Glastonbury lovers, take note) then this is the festival for you.
Headliners: Florence & The Machine, The XX, Gorillaz, The Chemical Brothers
When: 12-14 July 2018
How to get there: Fly 2 hours / Drive 8.5 hours
The Madrid based rock and indie festival that attracts fans from all over Europe is back for one last blowout in September. Apparently 2018 is the last, so make the most of this one, as the University is banning it – the Madrid enrolment level may not be so high now (and they have no one else to blame but themselves). Anyway the day-long bash gets underway at 11am as the line-up drawn from the best indie and rock bands around makes its way to the centre stage. And with it being just the day, most people tend to pair it with a trip round Madrid, taking the party up to a weekend.
Headliners: Imagine Dragons, The Vaccines, Bastille
When: 8 September 2018
How to get there: Train 3.5 hours / Drive 5 hours
MTV PRESENTS: GIBRALTAR CALLING
The Victoria Stadium, with its stunning backdrop of the Rock of Gibraltar, will be coming alive again this September as MTV and the Government of Gibraltar bring back their epic festival. Due to FIFA commitments the festival is scheduled later than normal this year and on Friday and Saturday so take the day off on Friday if you need to. This year UK grime artist Stormzy, the Grammy Award-winning Rag n Bone Man and Two Door Cinema will be performing alongside more than 25 others with new acts being announced over the coming months. With 2 stages and tons of activities including food and drink stalls, this year is set to be bigger and better than ever. MTV Gibraltar Calling is a family friendly festival and if you pre-register children under 12 go free with accompanying adults.
Headliners: Stormzy, Rag n Bone Man, Two Door Cinema, Sister Sledge, The Boomtown Rats
When: 21-22 September
Price: £80 for one day – £375 for two day VIP
How to get there: 45 minute drive from Marbella