So you’re going to the Primavera Sound Festival. You’ve probably got a few questions. What’s the transport like to and from the festival? What essentials should I take? Is it really worth going? Hell yeah!
If it’s your first time or whether you want to make the most of the festival, here is a guide to the ultimate Primavera experience.
What is the Primavera Sound Festival?
Often cited as one of, if not the best music festival around. Aside from being in Barcelona, it combines the best bits of the festival experience without camping or any mud in sight!
Primavera Sound began in 2000 and unlike many festivals these days it has managed to maintain its musical integrity. The focus is on rock but is accompanied by pop, soul, hip hop and world music. And established international artists play alongside those who are set to be the next big thing. Basically, a music festival not to be missed.
Planning the festival.
Everyone has their own method for organising which artists they want to see.
We saw people with official programmes marked with coloured highlighters, homemade spreadsheets, lists written on the back of their hands…the works. Do a good old Google search to find what others have created to help organise your time better. I found a great spreadsheet someone made on Reddit where you could colour in all the bands you wanted to see. Brilliant!
Now, I love spreadsheets and colouring in, but remember not to go overboard! Pick the bands you cannot miss under any circumstances, be it life or death. But then use the rest of the time to explore the different stages and you just might find your new favourite band.
If you’re worried about not being able to see Barcelona itself during the festival, then don’t. One of the best things about Primavera is that most of the music is on during the afternoon and late into the evening. Smaller acts start at around 4pm and then the main headliners start later at 11pm to 1am. This way you can explore Barcelona in the morning and head for the festival in the evening. The best of both worlds!
Listen to all the artists beforehand.
To help you to decide who to see, check out the Primavera Sound playlist on iTunes or Spotify. This way you can narrow down those you have to see and those to avoid!
Consider arriving a few days before the festival as there are usually some free concerts taking place. Some of these events are ticketed so you have to be quick off the mark as they sell out fast. There’s also more free live music happening in other parts of the city during the festival. Keep up to date with all these concerts on the Primavera website or on their social media pages in the run up to the festival.
The festival site
The festival is located at Parc del Forum right on the beachfront, next to the shopping centre Diagonal Mar and about 30 mins from Plaça de Catalunya in the centre of Barcelona.
The site itself is pretty small but manages to fit in 16 different stages. Near the beach there is an area dedicated to DJ sets and a place to lounge by the bar. Plus from here you can access the beach itself. Albeit not the prettiest section of Barcelona’s beaches, but if you fancy taking a dip don’t forget to bring your swimsuit!
The site is also accessible for wheelchair users with a viewing platform at each stage, accessible toilets and good general access for getting around the site too.
Tickets are released online pretty much as soon as the previous festival ends. This is when the tickets are cheapest. Then it gradually goes up in price every 3 months or so. We bought our 3-day ticket in November for €145 each. Pretty good value, right? There is no mad rush to get online as soon as tickets sales open for a limited time and for a limited amount of tickets which then sell out in the space of an hour or so. Yes, I’m looking at you Glastonbury!
There are also day tickets available for around €90 a day.
To collect your bracelet and card go to Parc del Forum where the festival takes place. It’s a really quick process. It’s best to go before the festival officially starts, but if not, don’t worry, as the queues go quickly. I went the evening before and waited just 5 minutes! Would have been even less if there wasn’t a problem with someone’s ticket in front of me.
Food and Drink
The most important thing aside from the music is of course food. I’d recommend taking food in with you as buying food in the festival can be expensive and not great value for money. Plus there’s nothing better than sitting on the grass and eating your own picnic whilst watching some great live music. If you’re feeling peckish there is a hypermarket in the shopping centre Diagonal Mar right next to the festival.
You can’t take drink in, apart from water bottles with no top. The best option is to buy drinks inside, although the prices have been hiked up. When we went, water was €2 but there are several water fountains where you can fill up. Beer was about €5-€7. There can be big crowds around the beer stalls so keep an eye out for the guys with the beer barrels wandering around through the crowds.
Despite being nice and sunny in the daytime, as the night draws in it gets pretty chilly so take plenty of layers with you!
Plan how you’re getting home. To be honest all transport is going to be busy. The bus turned out to be our best option as we found the tram was packed. The metro runs until 2pm on Friday and all night on Saturday. The yellow line L4 at El Maresme/Forum is the nearest to the festival. I’d advise leaving slightly early to avoid the crush of the crowds although this would mean missing the final encore. There’s also a taxi rank right outside the entrance to the festival but that can be just as, if not more, stressful than taking public transport due to the queues. So just walk down a block to flag one down.
Not surprisingly accommodation is more expensive during the festival. So it’s best to book early as the cheaper places get booked up quickly. In terms of location, Parc del Forum is located on the beach but it is further away from the city centre. I’d recommend staying somewhere nearer the centre so you can still explore the city but close to a transport link to easily reach the festival.
Please be aware of other tiny hobbit people who may be behind you. When there is a load of space to choose from do not stand directly in front of someone and completely block out their entire view of the stage!
Throw your phone away!
Well not literally, but what I mean is enjoy the moment. Don’t get tied to your phone recording every single song on social media. As soon as Radiohead played Creep, all the mobile phones went up to record the exact same thing:
I want more!
If your musical cravings haven’t been completely satisfied following the festival, then make your way over to Portugal. A week after the main festival you can catch NOS Primavera Sound. Past line-ups have included Patti Smith, Suede, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, The National and Rufus Wainwright.
Finally, feel free to comment and share your own tips for the festival!