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An Insider’s Guide to Granada Nightlife

If you’re new in town, planning a visit or just passing through, you’ll probably want to make the most of your time in Granada, Spain’s Moorish jewel of the south. This will of course include seeing the sights, eating the eats and – one would assume – sampling a taste of the city’s buoyant night life, with a little of what the locals like to call ‘Grana’ino tyle’.

Like it or not, Granada is very much a student city; there are approximately 85,000 of them currently attending the University (Source: Wikipedia) and around 2-3,000 of these are enrolled in the Erasmus ‘study abroad’ programme (‘study’ used in its loosest sense here), so finding somewhere to party isn’t exactly difficult.

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However, if – like me – your University years are behind you, then shuffling your way in and out of student-saturated bars all evening might not be your idea of fun. But there’s no need for concern; in Granada, there’s something for everyone, though finding exactly what and where that something is can be rather galling at times – both for tourists and locals.

After two years as a proud ‘guiri’ in Granada, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I’ve just about seen it all, even though I will, inevitably, at some point stumble upon somewhere brilliant that neither I nor my fellow guiri countrymen have ever heard of.

distritos de granada An Insiders Guide to Granada Nightlife

Before we begin, a disclaimer: as can be seen from the very elaborate map above, Granada is divided up into eight barrios: La Chana; Norte; Beiro; Albaicín; Centro; Genil; Zaidín and Ronda, but in the interest of keeping this article brief, we’ll focus on where the bulk of Granada’s best pubs and clubs can be found: El Centro, El Albaicín and El Realejo (a smaller barrio east of the centre), with a few honourable mentions at the end. Also, as is the case throughout the rest of Spain, Granada’s nightlife doesn’t really get going until about midnight, and tends not to wind down until about 6am, so it would be wise to pace yourself no matter where you’re going. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since coming here, it’s that the Spanish are kings when it comes to partying.


El Centro

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Calle Elvira (Source)

The beaten track, as it were, more or less makes up the centre of Granada. The long, cobbled and Moorish themed Calle Elvira, for instance, is continuously swamped with punters lurching from one buzzing tapa bar to the next, and when the kitchens call it quits for the night, there is a profusion of late night bars lying in wait for the half drunken overspill. One such enterprise is El Son (C/ Juaquin Costa 13). This joint, functioning as a bar upstairs and disco on its ground floor, fills up around 3am and stays open until the early hours. It is a fantastic example of how people in Granada will dance to just about anything; frankly, music has never been so random. Being blind drunk before entering isn’t an essential requirement, but it helps.

Things tend to be a little quieter down the other end of Elvira, but tucked down an otherwise derelict side road you’ll find Miniclub and Pata Palo catering to regularly teeming crowds, the latter especially. On a Friday night, you will doubtless spend a good twenty minutes shoving your way through the scrum before you are served, but the vibe inside both bars is as about as Spanish as it gets: we’re talking mass, screaming sing-alongs to wild, never-heard-of-before Spanish songs, some rather risky-looking table dancing and an unfathomable amount of chupitos.

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El Son, Granada

Over the other side of Gran Vía de Colón – Granada’s main intersection – there’s plenty more fun to be had. Entresuelo (Plaza San Augustin 2) blares out hours of reggae and dancehall at the weekend and boasts one of the best atmospheres in town. Then there’s Plantabaja (C/ Horno de Abad 11), a very cool bar whose basement – la planta baja – regularly plays host to some of Spain’s best, underground musical talents and tribute acts who are often almost as good as the real thing.

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Further westward are Booga Club (C/ Santa Barbara 8), a blues, dub and reggae stronghold also renowned for its excellent provision of live music, and Afrodisia (C/ de Almona del Boquerón 10), a swinging sixties sort of place and Booga’s unofficial warm-up bar. At €3 a cerveza, Booga is pricey compared with its rivals, but that’s ok because there’s a Chino across the road so people just get hammered on the steps outside instead.

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Live Music at Plantabaja, Granada (Source)

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Live Music at BoogaClub, Granada (Source)

For the busiest, cheapest and wildest time in town, head to the ever-frenetic Pedro Antonio de Alarcon, a long, straight, one-way street, which at its far end becomes inundated with busy bars, crowded kebab houses and chockfull chupiterías. Ergo, this is definitely the place to come if you do like student-saturated bars. Take La Marisma for example. Here, large beers, or jarras are sold for €1.60, hence the unyielding glut of bodies in the room. Each beer – conveniently – is served with a small plastic cup of salty pipas, the shells of which are promptly bitten off and tossed to the ground, creating a swathe of crunchy carpet that has to be seen to be believed. But that isn’t actually possible until closing time when everybody leaves.

Double back and you’ll encounter a much louder side of Granada nightlife: the grunge bars. Soma, El Transistor and El Peaton blast out the rock, indie and heavy metal – some of it refreshingly nostalgic, some of it deafeningly uncompromising – all night, every night after 10pm.

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Soma, Pedro Antonio de Alarcon

Pedro’s adjoining side streets have also become smeared with the same tawdry brush – Calle Socrates, home of student-favourite shot bar Chupitería 69, being a fine example. Here, a menu focused solely on inebriating its indulgers draws sizeable hordes most nights. All shots, whether ‘suave’, ‘medio’ or ‘fuerte’ (el agua bendita is particularly objectionable) cost €1, and are accompanied by vouchers that can be accumulated in order to win one of the bar’s esteemed rewards for loyalty. Lighter anyone? Maybe a T-shirt that proclaims you as Chupitería 69’s number one fan? Or just go the distance and trade all those hard earned vouchers in for the legendary thong? Even with the rewards, there are no winners here, just a lot of very, very wobbly people with incredibly sticky fingers.

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El Ménu, Chupitería 69, Cale Socrates

 

El Albaícin

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El Albaicín seen from The Alhambra

El Albaicín, Granada’s oldest, largest and most iconic barrio, rises high above the rest of the city to face the grand Alhambra Palace. Properties battle for every last inch of room here, and anybody who has successfully completed the grueling climb up to El Mirador de San Nicolas – the city’s most famous viewpoint – deserves a pat on the back. By day, the narrow alleyways are swarming with tourists, but at night most descend into the city in favour of some less physically exerting tapa hopping.

However, there are several bars well worth visiting. Café Bar Higuera (C/ Horno de Hoyo 17), for instance, is full of beans on a Friday night, especially when things warm up in late spring. The intimate and festooned beer garden out back makes for an excellent spot to chow down a tapa and clap along to bands of hippies strumming/blowing wood-fashioned instruments with no clear purpose. Other draws include Rincon de Pepe (Puerta Nueva), where delicious wine and home-cooked tapas can be enjoyed for a fair price and Casa Torquato (C/ Pagés 31) for something quintessentially Andaluz.

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Cafe Bar Higuera, El Albaicín, Granada

Ten minutes’ walking distance from El Albaicín – or Paseo de los Tristes if arriving from Plaza Nueva – is perhaps Granada’s most popular club of all: El Camborio. The venue has established itself as a firm student favourite, and often reaches maximum capacity on any given night of the week. If pop and Spanish chart music is your thing, you can’t go wrong here.

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El Realejo

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Campo del Principe, Granada (Source)

Dubbed ‘la zona de los guiris’ by some of the locals, the nightlife in El Realejo – the old Jewish quarter of Granada – is geared slightly more toward an international crowd. There are enough Spanish owned tapas bars around to ensure a traditional quality is preserved – Campo Principe, for example, is loaded with classic Spanish style bars – but an assortment of English and Irish run pubs and eateries give the barrio a distinctly foreign or – as is the case for us guiris – pleasantly familiar feel. The cozy Casa Lopez Correa (C/ Molinos 5) does excellent food, wine and beer and often hosts intercambios in the evenings, and down the road, Paddy’s Pub (C/ Santa Escolastica 15) is the perfect place to reconvene after the night before for a proper pint, some friendly banter and a dose of live sport with English commentary! Everyone needs their home comforts from time to time, and Paddy goes that extra mile to make sure all of his customers are being looked after. The TV sets have even been positioned so that one can view four games at once, and if the game you want to watch isn’t showing, no problem; Paddy will stream it illegally from one of the laptops propped on the bar. Now that’s service.

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Casa Lopez Correa, Granada

After hours, El Realejo doesn’t have much to offer, but for those hellbent on going all night long, gratification in the form of pounding, pounding gabba or techno can be sought out from Quilombo (Carril de San Cecilo 21) – if you’re willing to stumble uphill to get there.

Honourable Mentions

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Live Music at La Sala El Tren (Source)

I couldn’t pen a guide on Granada’s nightlife without mentioning my favourite Granadino club of all now could I? La Sala El Tren (Carretera de Málaga 136) boasts an imposing sound system, unmatched elsewhere in Granada. Getting there is a bit problematic – either €8 by taxi from the centre or a very long walk) – but the quality of its live gigs and international DJ sets makes the journey well worth the effort. The entrance fee typically sets you back around €10 with either a copa (spirit and mixer) or a couple of beers thrown in, but the general custom is to drink copiously in the street beforehand. Events label Substation regularly feature major UK reggae, jungle and DnB names on their rosta – The Skatalites, Congo Natty, Serial Killaz, and Shy FX the latest among them.

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Aphrodite @ La Sala El Tren (poor phone pic quality :S)

The only other Granadino club to attract the big names in the field of electronica is Industrial Copera (C/ Paz 7), a huge, double-floored discotheque with some seriously impressive pyrotechnics. For me, it’s not quite up to Tren’s standards in terms of character and atmosphere, but it’s still considerably better than the likes of Granada 10 and Mae West – two glorified and unbelievably pretentious student haunts, far more concerned with glitz and glamour than actually playing some decent music. That’s just me though – if anybody begs to differ then please do say so in the comments section below!

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Live Music at Industrial Copera

Have you experienced Granada’s nightlife? Where did you go and where would you recommend?

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water fight lanjarón spain fiesta de agua

The best EVER water fight in Lanjarón

waterfight3 The best EVER water fight in LanjarónHigh up in the sloping hills of the Alpujarra just south of Granada, there are a cluster of small, beguiling pueblos, each surrounded by acres of verdant countryside and each with something to brag about – from ancient, Moorish ruins to an artisan chocolate factory and even a copper coloured waterfall.

None, however, for all their riches, are able to attract the throngs quite like Lanjarón – especially on the eve of San Juan, June 23rd, when sheer, waterlogged madness dramatically unfolds. Travellers from near and far arrive by the coachload and spend the penultimate hours of the day reeling in eager anticipation of Spain’s – or perhaps even the world’s – BIGGEST water fight. At the stroke of midnight, deluges of water are sprayed from fireman’s hoses and comparatively pathetic water pistols (more on that later), poured from buckets on balconies and thrown within bulging water balloons. This then relentlessly continues for one, extremely soggy hour.

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Lanjarón, Las Alpujarras, Spain

The water themed frolicking pertains to when San Juan baptized Christ with a mere handful of water all those years ago. Somehow, I don’t imagine he’d ever have envisaged thousands of scantily clad youths mercilessly squirting each other in the face with pump action, air pressurised super soakers in his honour 2000 years down the line. Still, I’m sure he’d get involved if he were around.

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The contiguous mountains provide Lanjarón with a constant stream of natural mineral water, and the town is thus a major provider of natural spring water to the rest of Spain. Bottles of it can be bought from just about anywhere and the industry accounts for a large proportion of jobs in the tiny hillside pueblo.

There are numerous springs dotted around the town centre which – according to myth – each bring certain powers to those who drink from them. One is for health, another for fertility and another for a guaranteed, perfect paella. God only knows which spring I eventually stumbled upon having run out of balloons and in desperate need of more ammunition. The only power I seemingly gained from it was the ability to attract an abnormally large amount of attention. There’s no sympathy for the unarmed at the great water fight of Lanjarón.

Beforehand, I had been rather pleased with my chino-bought water pistol, reassuringly named the ‘super wallop’. Sure, it was tacky and pitiable in comparison to friend’s said pump action super soaker but the thing had a good range on it at least. Not even a minute had passed after 12 before I comprehended how terrible my choice of weaponry had been; people didn’t even realise I was wetting them.

Fortunately, a friend had taken pity and already bestowed me with some of his balloons, which I had filled up at one of the springs in the streets. These didn’t last long, as the majority were hastily hurled at all those merrily tipping buckets or sniping defenseless victims from their bone-dry balconies.

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Incidentally, it isn’t just water that Lanjaroneses make use of to commemorate old Saint John the Baptist; the event is actually called la fiesta del agua y jamón – the party of water and ham. Apparently, ham is served and eaten abundantly throughout the ensuing days, which is of course preferable to using it as artillery instead of – or indeed as well as – water on the night of the festival. That would be an incredibly slippery and revolting affair, much like La Tomatina in Buñol, Valencia I’m guessing.

The drag back to the bus lasted the entire hour. There were no hiding places, and if you were seen trying to escape then hose bearers would unite and ruthlessly remind you why you were there.

Once dried and clothed we were suddenly being whisked away by bus to Salobreña, where there were allegedly lines of humungous hogueras (bonfires) around which people danced and partied the rest of the night away in honour of Pagan ritual. Unfortunately by the time we arrived the celebrations were winding down and said bonfires had shrunk significantly. There was still music though, and who doesn’t like partying on the beach until the early hours?

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What las hogueras ordinarily look like (Source)

Getting to Lanjarón is fairly easy if you’re coming from Granada. Just hop on one of the various buses leaving from Calle Neptuno, though you will need to buy a ticket for most services beforehand. We paid €10 each for the bus there, the bus to Salobreña and the bus back to Granada. Although we found the tickets thanks to word of mouth, they are also available online.

Perhaps next year I’ll upgrade from the super wallop to a pump action super soaker. Then I’ll at least cause partial irritation to other partygoers. And a sturdy pair of wellies wouldn’t be such a bad idea either; flip-flops were a baaaad choice.

Have you ever been to this epic water fight? Or something similar like La Tomatina? What did you think?

sos 4.8, murcia, festival, josh taylor

SOS 4.8 Festival, Murcia

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If there’s one thing that Spain knows how to run well, it’s a festival.

Last weekend, I went to SOS 4.8 festival in Murcia. It was my first trip to Murcia, and my fourth – and largest – festival so far here in Spain. Headlining the event were The xx, Bloc Party, M83 and Justice – four class acts that by chance I’d seen play live the year before at Open’er Festival in Poland. Normally, a lineup identical to one at a festival I’d recently attended wouldn’t seduce me so easily, but as I said, these are class acts, and I really, really love festivals.

At €35 for ‘el abono’, SOS is/was an absolute bargain. As it transpired, I ended up paying €55 as I had foolishly waited for a press accreditation destined for rejection until the week before the event. I didn’t care though; I was going, my mates from the UK were going and a sh*t load of booze was going too.

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Unofficial camping – only €50!

I also made huge savings on transport and accommodation: My ride to Murcia came thanks to carshare website amovens.com – I paid just €15 to get there and was regaled with army stories from my militant driver the whole way (actually enjoyable, honest), and I stayed in an unofficial but nearby campsite where a tent had already been provided for me, at the cost of €50…

With a capacity of around 20,000 and still plenty of elbow space, SOS is/was also the perfect size. I rarely had to queue for more than five minutes either for the toilet or bar, though this may have had more to do with the fact that drink prices had been hiked to the unashamedly ludicrous for the weekend– €7.50 for a large beer anyone? Thought not. But at festivals it’s effectively inescapable, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who manage to smuggle a premixed 2-litre bottle of God knows what in owing to the slipshod security – I even saw one lad pull a mini keg of Heineken from his backpack once inside…

I suppose I better say something about the music then.

We arrived on Friday to the poprock sound of the peculiarly named Kakkmaddafakka. Until I actually saw the band’s name written down I’d genuinely thought that it had been a proper English word terribly mispronounced by Spanish speakers. Though all their songs were lost on me, they still provoked us into jumping around like morons.

The xx’s headlining set was up next. Lots of people go on about how the band’s melancholic sound doesn’t really work for festivals; that if you close your eyes you may as well be listening to your iPod on maximum volume etc.

Bollocks to that.

They are masters at what they do, and frankly if they attempted to jazz things up a bit with a quicker tempo I’m not sure anyone would like the outcome very much. Thankfully, they didn’t, and instead treated us to a wave of hits from both albums, all as moody and docile as we had readily anticipated. ‘Intro’ and ‘Crystalised’ stood out for me.

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Shortly afterwards we were watching festival heavyweights Bloc Party waltz onto stage. With four albums to their name, there would certainly be no shortage of material, but disappointingly they did lean heavily on much of the newer stuff throughout the first half the set, which is always annoying at festivals. Eventually our patience was rewarded though, with a stream of classics headed with a rolling rendition of ‘Song For Clay’ and ‘Banquet’. Much better!

At various intervals lead singer Kele Okreke attempted to interact with his audience but his sentiments often fell on deaf ears:

“How’s everybody doing at the front!?”

A wee cheer is barely audible.

“And what about you lot in the VIP section?”

The crickets seemed to chirp in agreement at least.

After sidestepping our way through and partially joining in with the mother of all botellones outside the festival grounds on Saturday afternoon, we arrived in time for the latter half of Granada’s very own Lori Meyers. Spanish people were absolutely loving it; I wasn’t so convinced. Possibly because I didn’t know the words, or maybe it was due to my being dragged to the front where about 90% of the crowd looked about the same age as my teenage students. At 25 years old and 6ft 3”, I stood out like a sore thumb.

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Lori Meyers

The first indulgence of the night came in the form of French ‘shoegazers’ M83, who, for all their years of grafting in the music-making business, have only become acquainted with large-scale festivals in recent times. Their breakthrough – and my favourite – album ‘Saturdays = youth’ won them deserved critical acclaim and the follow up ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ was one of the bestselling albums of 2012. Suddenly, the front wasn’t such a bad place to be after all, as massive tracks ‘Reunion’, ‘We Are The Sky’ and the defining ‘Midnight City’ were belted out for all to sing and spring along to. It was the  performance of the weekend.

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M83

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Later, the French takeover continued as Justice settled in to their pounding electro set packed with epic synths and explosive drops. The festival had officially turned hardcore. Following that, Vitalic, also from France, took to the stage to ensure that the mayhem continued and threw down yet another barrage of jarring electronica seemingly loud enough to break the sound barrier.

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At 6am, we conceded that it was time to be getting back – my friends to their four star hotel rooms; I to my diminutive, freezing cold tent, which quite frankly may as well have been a bed of nails. Can’t complain really though. SOS was just about the cheapest, proper music festival I’ve ever been to, yet easily one of the best and undoubtedly my best ever in Spain. Now let’s see if Territorios Sevilla has what it takes to change that next week…

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Translation: ‘BIG TUNE!’

festival, spain, españa, summer, blog

Spain’s summer festival roundup!

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At last! Festival season is here! And Spain is once again flexing its distended muscles in the upper bracket of Europe’s heavyweight division. It’s got all bases covered; from rock, pop, hip-hop and folk right through to reggae, dub, electro and other innumerable forms of dance music that have recently sprung from the blogosphere.

Moreover, all of these genres will be represented by an enviable portion of the biggest and best talents the music industry has to offer at festivals across the whole of Spain, almost all of which cost less than €100 to go to – an entrance fee now virtually unheard of in Britain. And, needless to say, there is sunshine in Spain, and lots of it in the summer.

But where the bejesus do we start?

Well let’s just focus on ten, disregard chronological order and break it down into three scale-based categories: enormous, large and small.

Enormous (50,000+)

I’d only ever heard of one festival before I came to Spain in 2010: Valencia’s FIB, a.k.a. Benicassim. Though not actually the largest festival in Spain, it is doubtless the most famous. Since its onset in 1995, the event has been an unwavering force on the Spanish festival scene, hosting acts such as Radiohead, Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Chemical Brothers and The Strokes. FIB is particularly popular among sun-starved Brits who account for a sizeable chunk of the crowd, and almost always sells out.

Dates: 18th - 21st of July

Pick of the 2013 line-up: Arctic Monkeys; The Killers; Queens of The Stone Age; Kaiser Chiefs; Primal Scream; Dizzee Rascal; Skream; The Courteeners

Price of ticket with camping: €163

Official website

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(Esta foto de Benicasim es cortesía de TripAdvisor)

But Valencia isn’t done there; two weeks later, and a mere 35 minutes down the road, the similarly indie-pop based Arenal Sound takes place on a giant quay jutting out from the shore of Castellón. In just three years Arenal has risen to become the largest of Spain’s festivals and last year attracted between eighty and ninety thousand punters. The festival’s line-up isn’t quite as A-list as Benicassim’s but at half the price for as many days, it is well worth the money.

Dates: 1st – 4th of August

Pick of the 2013 line-up: The Kooks; Editors; Klaxons; The Fratellis; The Macabees; Chase & Status; Ra Ra Riot; The Whip

Price of ticket with camping: €80 (+ ‘boat’)

Official website

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Arenal Sound (Source)

Sonar takes place in Barcelona in mid June, and has earned itself a reputation for offering something many of the other Spanish festivals discernibly lack; modern art. This festival is as visually pleasing as it is audibly, with a marked emphasis on creativity and originality. Artists range from the world-renowned to the unfamiliar, and the music offered spans across all electronic genres. It’s expensive, though tickets can be bought for either the daytime or nighttime or both. However, there is no camping at Sonar – that’s way too predictable.

Dates: 13th – 15th of June

Pick of the 2013 line-up: Justice; Two Door Cinema Club; Pet Shop Boys; Skrillex; Kraftwerk; Jurassic 5; Soulwax; Modeselektor

Price of two-night ticket: €115 (no camping)

Official Website

sonar Spains summer festival roundup!

Sonar

Large (25,000 – 50,000)

Despite its name – ‘Spring’ in English – I’m still including Primavera Sound in this post; it’d be a glaring oversight if I didn’t. It is smaller than Sonar – the other Barcelona based festival – yet seems to be more popular in any case. According to the website, weekend tickets are already sold out for this year, but then if you consider its eclectic, stellar lineup for 2013 then its no wonder really.

Dates: 22nd – 26th of May

Pick of the 2013 lineup: Crystal Castles; Animal Collective; Blur; The Postal Service; Knife Party; Phoenix; Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds; Wu-Tang Clan

Price of day ticket: €80

Official website

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Primavera Sound (Source)

If there’s one festival that couldn’t be surer of itself then Sonisphere is it. There’s no room for novel, pompous genres here; it’s metal, metal and more metal. And if you don’t like it, well then you can swivel and then DIIIEEE!!! WAAAHHH!!! No. I’m sure they’re all lovely people. The festival will take place in both Madrid and Barcelona, on two separate nights.

Dates: 31st May (Madrid), 1st June (Barcelona)

Pick of the 2013 lineup: Iron Maiden; Megadeath; Anthrax

Price of ticket: €59

Official Website

sonisphere Spains summer festival roundup!

Sonisphere

For the absolute deal of the summer, head to Bilbao BBK Live. The festival is now in its seventh year, and 2013 is shaping up to be the best yet. The event takes place in a huge 110,000 m² park and is growing in size every year. It’s also in Bilbao, which is hands down one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited. Watch out FIB and Sonar is all I can say – BBK is rapidly cementing itself as a contender for Spain’s champion festival.

Dates: 11th – 14th of July

Pick of the 2013 lineup: Green Day; Kings Of Leon; Depeche Mode; Billy Talent; Editors; The Hives; Klaxons; Fat Boy Slim

Price of weekend ticket: €90 with camping!!!

Official website

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Bilbao BBK Live (Source)

In the middle of the desert somewhere between Zaragoza and Tarragona, you’ll find Monegros Festival, come one Saturday in late July. Here, for one night only, an army of around 40,000 people rave nonstop to the sound of thumping electro beats and rhythms for 20 hours. Once you’re in, there’s no getting back out. Take plenty of water and suncream.

Date: 20th of July

Pick of the 2013 lineup: Underworld; Bloody Beetroots; Vitalic; Public Enemy; Richie Hawtin; Luciano; Marco Corola; Loco Dice

Price of ticket: €65

Official website

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Monegros (Source)

Ever fancied going to Benidorm? Though not. But don’t write it off just yet – it seems the definitive Brits abroad package holiday destination has been going through some rigorous image counselling, and with the comically yet appealingly named Low Cost Festival now set to rock its sandal and sock strewn shores for a fifth consecutive year, it looks as though it is working. The festival is building itself quite a chic image and this year’s show of talent is looking very exciting indeed.

Dates: 26th – 29 July

Pick of the 2013 lineup: Portishead; Belle & Sebastian; Two Door Cinema Club; Crystal Castles; Glasvegas; Simian Mobile Disco

Price of ticket: €60 (camping: €10 per night)

Official website

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Low Cost Festival (Source)

Small(er) (8,000 – 25,000)

Smaller, yes; small, No. I get lost in crowds of less than fifty so anything above 8,000 still amounts to a sh*t load of people in my mind. These smaller festivals tend to start the ball rolling in late springtime; and the first is now just days away.

SOS 4.8 will be held in Murcia this weekend, and looks to have generated quite a bit of interest here in Granada, especially among Erasmus students. I’m going too of course! And I couldn’t be more excited, despite still not really knowing where I’m going to sleep. It’s a proper bargain, and the musical talent in the offing is of a pretty darn exceptional standard.

Dates: 3rd – 5th May

Pick of the 2013 lineup: Bloc Party; The xx; Justice; M83; Modeselektor; Vitalic; Crystal Fighters; Los Punsetes

Price of 2-night ticket: €55 (though early bird tickets are something like €35)

Official website

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SOS 4.8 (Source)

Fast-forward two weeks and it’s the turn of Seville’s Territorios Sevilla, which, despite its comparatively smaller capacity at 15,000, probably offers the most diverse and multinational lineup. It’s a two-night bash taking place in the centre of the city, and is a refreshing variation from the usual feria-fixated feel during the spring/summer time. However, it does tend to blow a considerable chunk of its budget on the headliners, evidenced by the fact that nobody ever has a clue who any of the other artists are. As I say though – diverse and multinational. I’ve been before and it was smashingly good fun.

Dates: 17th – 18th May

Pick of the 2013 lineup: Fat Boy Slim; 2Many DJs; Emir Kusturika & The No Smoking Orchestra; Fangoria; Standstill

Price of ticket: €30

Official website

7262098702 23c69daf70 c Spains summer festival roundup!

Territorios Sevilla (Source)

Festivals are awesome. Go to one.

spanish tv

Spain 101: Spanish Telly

throw out tv Spain 101: Spanish Telly

That last episode of Gandía Shore was just too much to endure…

There aren’t too many things I dislike about Spain, but this is undoubtedly one of them. Of course it’s not all bad; the news, for example, is a good watch. And in no way am I slagging off Spanish films either- with or without subtitles they are invaluable sources of language learning, and should be watched regularly (‘Que Tan Lejos’ and ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ are two of my favourites). However, in general terms, Spanish TV leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s only recently that I had this realisation.

When I first moved to Spain I hardly ever watched TV. After a day’s work and/or an hour and a half of uncomfortably bumbling my way through a snail’s pace intercambio, I just wanted to switch off. It was a chore to me, and the prospect of sitting down for a double helping of Dexter or Breaking Bad was invariably more appealing.

I knew, of course, that this was an entirely unhealthy approach to overcoming those bumbling intercambios, yet I continued to shun my dust-gathering boob tube like superman shuns kryptonite. I suppose it mainly came down to the fact that it was just so effing fast, and instilled in me nothing but scorn and further embarrassment for my self-determined sh*te Spanish.

My first year here generally continued in this injurious fashion, and as a result I arrived in Granada not knowing nearly enough to comfortably chitchat with my new, plainly appalled (at the fact that I had spent nine months living in El Puerto de Santa María and knew so little) Spanish housemates.

Things had to change, and getting acquainted with Spanish TV was a sensible start. So, considering that I was void of any opinion when it came to Spanish telly, I was content to let my student housemates take charge of the controls. What I was watching didn’t really matter- as long as I could understand some of it, I was satisfied.

Thus, I spent most of my TV dinner time trying to make sense of either squabbling football pundits on MARCA or badly dubbed rappers talking about their cars and ‘cribs’ on MTV. At the time, I presumed that this was merely the arse-end of Spanish TV and just something I needed to get to grips with before feeling suitably qualified to take on a whole other world of laudable and fascinating television, rife with riveting documentaries and original, hilarious game shows.

How wrong I was.

Now in my third year in Spain, I am yet to discover anything approaching ‘watchable’ and to be perfectly honest the more I look the worse it gets- Telecinco’s wishy-washy, predictable and canned laughter-filled ‘Aída’ is a textbook example. My new, older housemates can’t get enough and the show, now in its ninth season, has apparently won stacks of awards. God only knows why. Call it a cultural barrier if you like but I can understand more or less all of it yet nary a snigger has ever escaped my lips. Imagine the progeny of ‘Friends’ and ‘Will & Grace’ birthed by a surrogate Spaniard and you’ve pretty much got it. It’s on every day and each episode is dragged out for 45 agonizing minutes.

aida Spain 101: Spanish Telly

The cast of Aída

When ‘Aída’ isn’t robbing me of my will to live, there’s a good chance that newly launched singing competition ‘La Voz’ is (again, housemates are infatuated with it). Now, I am, by my own admission, secretly addicted to the X Factor, which may well have just compromised anything more I have to say on the matter of creditable television, but if comparisons are to be drawn between the two, then the Spanish version is simply laughable. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. The contest is currently in its final stages, yet you would be forgiven for thinking it was the first round owing to some of the contestants’ ‘voices’. And when one of them attempts to sing a song in English the cringing can even become painful. Fair play for trying I suppose- the day an English speaker sings a song in a different language on X Factor will never come- but someone really ought to put a stop to it.

lavoz Spain 101: Spanish Telly

Judges must sit with their backs to the contestants so as not to be influenced by their appearance- only their singing…
(© farodevigo.es)

Maybe I’ve just been spoilt by the BBC, and Spanish TV is simply a reflection of the global standard. Whatever the reason, I’ve had enough. I’m boycotting Spanish telly until it gets its act together and reverting back to my old ways. C’mere Dexter. Oh how I’ve missed you.

*Watch as La Voz’s Rafa Blas massacres Bon Jovi’s Livin On A Prayer!*

Anyone else feel this way about Spanish TV? Or do you really like Spanish TV and think I’m a prudish and unreasonable ass? Either way I’d like to hear your thoughts!