Summer is synonymous with music festivals in Catalonia

No less than 360 festivals per year take place in Catalonia, 250 of them in summer

Primavera Sound 2017 (by ACN)
Primavera Sound 2017 (by ACN) / Helle Kettner

Helle Kettner | Barcelona

August 24, 2017 02:27 PM

Warm summer nights with a sea breeze freshening up the air, hot summer days at the beach or in squares around the territory, mountains covered in vineyards. Catalonia definitely has the ideal conditions to be the land of summer festivals. With around 250 music festivals from June to September there are lots of choices with something for all tastes: Rock, pop, jazz, indie, folk and classical music. The Catalan summer festival program kicking back with a cold glass of wine or head banging in the first row.

There are a total of around 360 music festivals a year in Catalonia andlive music is attracting more and more people. This summer, many of the Catalan music festivals have hung the sign of “sold out” announcing record assistance figures. The live music industry has experienced an increase over the past year— 48% in spectators, 14% in concerts and 29% in employees—according to a study from the Group Enderrock and the Catalan Association of Professional Representatives, Promotors and Managers presented in July.

Barcelona on the festival world map

Some of the world’s most famous festivals are celebrated in the Catalan capital. Primavera Sound, Sónar and Cruïlla Barcelona sound familiar to most music lovers and just this year they attracted about 380,000 attendees overall. Each of the three festivals beat their assistance record this summer.

Jamiroquai, Two Door Cinema Club, Die Antwoord, Pet Shop Boys, Prodigy, Parov Stelar, Björk, Justice, Nicolas Jaar, Moderat, Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, and Van Morrison are only some of the international artists who played at this year’s big festivals in Barcelona. But successful Catalan groups also made it onto the posters, evidencing the big and diverse scene in Catalonia. 

Both at Primavera Sound and Sónar, the balance of foreign visitors and locals is similar. In the case of the International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art, Sónar, 52% of the audience is from abroad while the rest come from Catalonia and Spain. At Primavera Sound, one of the most important musical festivals in Southern Europe, the balance is 55%-45% in favor of the foreign guests. Actually, the many assorted festivals in Catalonia attract a total of 1.5 million visitors each year. Barcelona and the Costa Brava are the main spots to be for these usually open air festivals, which take place during the summer season. 

Costa Brava one of the hot spots

Summer festivals in Catalonia are much more than Barcelona. One of Catalonia’s best established festivals, Cap Roig, closed its doors on Tuesday with a record number of attendees. A total of 46,316 people enjoyed some of the world’s best musical artists on the open air stage in a spectacular natural setting in front of the sea in one of the Mediterranean region’s most important botanical gardens. Cap Roig is a well-known festival outside Catalonia as well.

In fact, in May this year, the British newspaper Independent rated the festival second out of their Top-10 summer festivals in the world, describing it as “a stunning setting on the Mediterranean coast playing host annually to an eclectic mix of music”. Peralada and Porta Ferrada are two other Catalan summer festivals to bear in mind. International artists such as Jamie Cullum, Bryan Ferry and UB40 all played there this year.

On a comparable level to these two festivals on the Costa Brava, the Festival Jardins de Pedralbes in Barcelona also beat attendee records this season, more than 50,000 people came to hear Roger Hodgson, Sting, Rufus Wainwright and Yann Tiersen among others.

Territory and music fusion

Summer festivals in Catalonia are not only about music. The Gastromusical in the small coast town of l’Escala on the Costa Brava mixes cuisine and music. It is the top chef, Jordi Jacas, who is behind this initiative that also announced they were sold out this season. 

On the other hand, the Festival Sons del Món (World sounds) mixes music and wine. The festival this year attracted 20,320 in their twelve concerts; among them legendary Tom Jones visited the small town of Castelló d'Empúries this year.

The festival season is far from over. Festival Acústica in Figueres in Northern Catalonia is just around the corner with four days of music from the best Catalan and Spanish artists from August 31 to September 3.