All things Sónar 2023: where to go, who to see, and how to get there

Famed music festival set to celebrate 30th anniversary this weekend

One of the images from the 30th anniversary of Sónar
One of the images from the 30th anniversary of Sónar / Courtesy of Sónar
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

June 14, 2023 04:39 PM

From June 15th to 17th, music lovers from around the world will flock to Barcelona for Sónar music festival’s 30th anniversary. 

What it is all about 

Founded in 1994 as the “Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art,” Sónar has grown from 6,000 to 122,000 attendees in 2022 and caters to a wide variety of audiences. The core aspects of this unique festival that continue to bring more people back to Barcelona each year are the creative and unique electronic music, cutting-edge technology, and entrepreneurial innovation on display. 

Since its inception, it has had three components; Sónar by Day, Sónar by Night, and the Sonar+D congress (formerly known as the Record Fair and Technology Fair).

Sónar is all about the music, not just how it sounds but how it was made, its artistic process, the intersection of creativity and electronics, and the cultural impact of the electronic genre. This devotion to encountering music from a wider lens resulted in the festival being awarded a Creu de Sant Jordi, a prize the Catalan government gives in recognition of people, events, and places that protect and enhance the nation's cultural identity. 

For a quick look at the anticipated highlights of Sónar 2023, a useful reference is their list of 10 Unmissable Highlights. 

Sónar by Day

An image from Sónar by Day
An image from Sónar by Day / Sónar festival

Sónar by Day will be held in the Fira de Montjuïc exhibition halls next to Plaça d’Espanya. 

Performers including Black Coffee, The Blessed Madonna, 700 Bliss, and AINES will play for crowds across five outdoor and indoor stages from 3 pm to midnight, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. 

Map of Sónar by Day
Map of Sónar by Day

Stellar performances from well-known artists are not all that Sónar by Day offers. 

SonarExtra is a series of musical installations, exhibitions, and film festivals throughout Barcelona that gives ticket holders either reduced or free access, from the Digital Impact at Disseny Hub which offers insight into questions like whether artificial beings experience empathy, to the SonarMies: Reprocessing… Piano + AI. The exhibition, which hosts a series of sessions of duets between a piano and an Artificial Intelligence, is open all three days of the festival. 

Installations throughout the festival grounds are also a staple part of the Sónar by Day experience. One such video installation transports viewers to a universe created by Artificial Intelligence based on photos taken from the last 30 years of the festival.

Sónar by Night

El grup Bicep en una imatge promocional
A promotional image of Bicep / Courtesy of Sam Mulvey

Sónar by Night is where the music takes center stage. From 8.30 pm to 7 am Friday and Saturday, some of the most celebrated electronic music artists take to the stage. From Aphex Twin, Eric Prydz, Bicep, and Peggy Gou, to Little Simz, Bag Gyal, Mochakk, and Solomun, Sónar by Night 2023 is not set to disappoint. 


Map of Sónar by Night
Map of Sónar by Night



This year’s Sónar+D theme is “The impact of AI on the Arts”. Apart from influencing the design of promotional material and the event’s merchandise, the theme also dictates the content of the Sónar+D masterclasses, debates, and lectures by music, science, and technology experts. 

Dr. Kate Darling, MIT researcher and leader in the world of robot ethics is set to educate crowds on Friday about the evolving relationships between humans and AI. Musicians will also be treated to a Music Innovation Forum with industry experts about the music industry and how innovations in technology are changing the status quo of how to survive in this sector. 

One of the images from the 30th anniversary of Sónar
One of the images from the 30th anniversary of Sónar / Courtesy of Sónar

Some parts of Sónar+D are open to all-day ticket holders, such as SonarÀgora which is the debate forum of the festival, however, access to other Sónar+D programming requires a separate ticket to Sónar by Day or Sónar by Night. An additional fee of €25 can be added to a SonarPass to give access. 

Getting ready for the acts 

Un moment del xou immersiu 'Holo', d'Eric Prydz, que es podrà veure al Sónar + D
Eric Prydz's immersive show 'Holo' / Courtesy of Sónar + D

Over the last few weeks, Sónar has released a total of 25 mixes and podcasts over Soundcloud from 25 artists that will play the event to give fans a sneak peek at their sets and let them get to know the artists a little better. These mixes are featured in the playlists section of Sónar's website, where they also provide links to their Sounds of Sónar playlist which is available on Spotify and YouTube. 


There are a wide variety of tickets available on Sónar’s website. Each ticket gives different levels of access to the events and to different areas. 

Ticket Access Information
Ticket Access Information


Before entering Sónar by Day or Sónar by Night, every attendee will have to check in physically. Organizers will then exchange the entry ticket for a wristband, which will allow access to the festival and to pay for the goods inside. Ticket holders will have to be present at the time of check-in, as tickets cannot be exchanged for wristbands for third parties. 

The check-in areas are located in the orange part of the map for normal tickets and are clearly signed on the maps for those holding VIP tickets. In the Fira de Montjuïc venue, the normal and VIP check-in will be at Door E, while access will be through door C for the general public, and door D for VIP ticket holders

Actuació de Chemical Brothers al Sónar 2022
The Chemical Brothers at Sónar 2022 / Sónar

Getting to Sónar by Day and back

All ticket holders get a 30% discount on public transport through the Hola Barcelona Travel Card also gives you 30% off tickets for the Telefèric de Montjuïc, the Barcelona Bus Turístic, and special Bus Turístic trips: Easy Montserrat, The Montserrat Tour y Dalí’s Figueres & Girona.

Metro and Bus
There are plenty of options to reach the venue with metro lines L1 and L3 stopping in Plaça d’Espanya, but also city bus lines: D20, D40, H16, V7, 13, 23, 46, 52, 65, 79, 91, 109, 150, 165. There are also metropolitan bus lines such as CJ, L70, L72, L80, L86, L94, and L95 that stop in the square. The bus system in Barcelona works almost 24 hours every day but is separated into two categories, the ‘regular’ bus lines, which operate from 6 am to 11.15 pm every day, and the night bus (“nit bus” in Catalan) which goes from 11 pm to 6 am. 

FGC trains at Plaça Espanya are another option for getting to the Sónar by Day venue. Those arriving by high-speed train to Sants station can take the bus, a two-stop metro ride on L3, or a 15-minute walk. 

Bicing, Barcelona’s bike-share facility, also runs 24 hours a day. However, this system needs one-year membership.

For those getting there with a private vehicle, there is some parking available near the hall. 

From the airport
To get to Sónar by Day from Barcelona airport, travelers can take the L9S metro line from the airport, change at Torrassa, and then take L1 in the direction of Fondo, to Espanya. There is also the Aerobus which costs €6.75 for a single ticket or €11.65 return ticket and runs all day from Terminal 1 and from Terminal 2.  Bus options include taking a longer route with the public bus line 46, direct to Plaça Espanya. It costs €2.40 for a single ticket, or is included in the unlimited trips if using the Hola Barcelona Travel Card. Taking the Renfe-Rodalies train from T1 will include taking a Shuttle Bus, which is free, from T1 to T2 (Renfe Airport Station). From T2 take the Line R2 Nord to Barcelona Sants. There, travelers will take the L3 Metro to Espanya. From there, concert-goers can take the bus, a two-stop metro ride on L3, or a 15-minute walk. 

Getting to Sónar by Night from Sónar by Day and back

In a fitting reflection of the shift in tone from day to night, Sónar by Night takes place in a different location to Sónar by Day. 

The Fira Gran Via venue is around 15 minutes of a drive from Plaça d’Espanya, but can also be reached by metro, FGC train, or bus in up to 30 minutes. There are dozens of options to go from one venue to the other.  

Sónar will put in place bus links, at a price of €2.50 per journey going from Fira Montjüic to Fira Gran Via venue. The trip will take 15 minutes and will operate Friday from 8 pm to 12.30 am and Saturday from 8.30 pm to 12.30 am. This will be a one-way journey.

Getting to Sónar by Night and back

To get to Sónar by Night, there are several options, including taking the Sónarbus available to all ticket holders that connects Sónar by Day and the Plaça d'Espanya square with the venue in Fira de Gran Via. 

However, other routes include daytime buses H12, H16, 46, 65, 79, 150, night buses N1, N2, N13 ,N15, N16, N17, N18, the metro, and FGC trains. Metro lines run across the city between 5 am and 12 midnight from Sunday to Thursday, from 5 am to 2 am on Fridays, and for 24 hours on Saturday. 

FGC train lines have a different schedule and the last train from Plaça Espanya to Europa | Fira departs at 1:59 am. The first train from Europa | Fira to Plaça Espanya departs at 5.54 am. 

To get to the venue from the airport, similar options are available. By metro, travelers can take the L9S direct to Fira. The bus line 46, direct to Plaça Europa, and then the nocturnal bus lines N17 and N18 if traveling from T1 or the lines N16, N18 if landing in T2. For all these, Plaça Europa is the destination point. 

Cashless festival

The festival, both during the day and night events, will be cashless. This means attendees will have to top up a wristband to be used as the "only way to pay at Sónar." 

Those who have bought the ticket on other websites can find FAQs on how to top up their wristband early. 

Once in the festival, the wristband will be automatically loaded with the amount attendees have topped up after completing the check-in. 
Inside the festival, spectators can use both cash and card to top up their wristbands in the several SonarCashless points placed throughout the venues. It can be topped as many times as needed but only in multiples of €5.

If someone loses their band, organizers are not responsible for it. Wristbands are personal and non-transferable. Sónar reserves the right to decline wristbands that have been cut, pulled off, or otherwise visibly manipulated.

Once the festival is over, festival-goers can claim unused money back using an online form, between Sunday 18 at 10 am, and Friday 30 at 11.59 pm. The link will be active on Sónar’s website. Each transaction will have a fee of €1.20 and will be paid via bank transfer. 

What can I bring into the festival? 

For security reasons entrance to the Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night venues is not permitted with suitcases or large bags, large backpacks, skateboards, professional camera equipment, food, or drink. 

Smaller bags (40cm x 20cm x 25cm) such as handbags or small backpacks and motorcycle helmets will be permitted, but have to be left in the cloakroom.

Other forbidden objects are aerosols, drones, laser pointers, selfie sticks, or sharp objects.

Animals will not be allowed to enter either Sónar by Day or Sónar by Night. 

Cigarettes and tobacco cannot be bought in the venues. Smoking is allowed only in outdoor areas of the festivals. 

Other general information about Sónar

First aid teams will be present at both Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night in the event that any visitor needs medical attention. Attendees can also speak with any staff member who can call a first aid team if they don’t see them. 
Toilet facilities are all indicated on the maps in both venues. 

Lost and found items such as wallets, ID cards, and mobile phones will be automatically handed over to the relevant authorities due to new data protection laws and people will need to contact local authorities by Wednesday, June 21, with a description of what they have lost.