From days at the beach to sunset strolls, Spain has long offered inspiration for the creatively minded. One of the most alluring destinations for music fans looking for a fresh adventure, the country provides an unmatched series of unique festival experiences.
After facing COVID-19 cancellations in 2020, only a select few made their return in 2021. Now, 2022’s season is set to mark the full-fledged return of some of the world’s best rock fests, so you can make the most of your summer in Spain.
Primavera Sound, Barcelona
Dates: June 2-12, 2022 (Weekend 1 June 2-4, Weekend 2 June 9-11, with venue shows in between)
Held in the sprawling Parc del Fòrum, behemoth festival Primavera Sound is set to mark its return to the seaside park in dramatic fashion. It’s one of the world’s premier festivals, and concert-goers from around the globe flock to Barcelona’s shores for unlikely reunions, special one-off performances and tour premieres. The line-up for 2022 brings back many of the planned headliners from the canceled 2020 edition including Massive Attack, Pavement, The Strokes, The National, Tyler, The Creator and Beck, along with new additions like Dua Lipa, Gorillaz, Megan Thee Stallion, Tame Impala, Phoenix and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Not only is the festival expanding beyond the Iberian Peninsula later this year with an LA edition premiering in September, but next year’s Spanish program will host its first weekend in Barcelona, and move the second to Madrid, while also expanding to Latin America with new versions in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago De Chile in 2023.
Vida Festival, Vilanova i la Geltrú
Dates: June 30th, July 1 and 2, camping available.
Held at Masia d’en Cabanyes, a dreamy villa in the coastal Catalan beach town of Vilanova i la Geltrú near the famous resort town of Sitges, just a mere 35-minute train ride from Barcelona, Vida Festival is the festival crafted for music connoisseurs. The grounds are suitable for 25,000, but organizers limit attendance to 10,000 to maintain a comfortable atmosphere. With set times that don’t overlap, fans can appreciate a wider variety of acts with improved acoustics. The low-key affair still pulls in big-name acts, and this year’s edition doesn’t disappoint with indie darlings like Belle & Sebastian, Cat Power, Soccer Mommy, The Avalanches, Alt-J, Black Pumas and Destroyer taking the stage. A secret winter edition is held at the palatial Finca Mas Solers estate in December; the line-up is teased in advance with clues but the artists are only revealed when they take to the stage to perform.
Mad Cool Festival, Madrid
Dates: July 6-10, returning September 10th for a special Sunset edition
Since 2016 the Spanish capital’s flagship Mad Cool Festival has cast Madrid as the centerpiece of the summer festival circuit and is doubling down in ‘22 with multiple editions. The first takes place over July 6th to the 10th, expanding to 5 full days and boastings performances by Metallica, Twenty One Pilots, Imagine Dragons, The Killers, Stormzy, Muse, Kings of Leon, Florence + The Machine, Pixies and Jack White, before returning in September for what’s being billed as Mad Cool Sunset with Rage Against the Machine, Biffy Clyro, Glass Animals, Stereophonics, Run The Jewels and Kurt Vile & The Violators in tow, marking one of the most impressive programs around.
Bilbao BBK Live, Bilbao
Dates: July 7, 8, 9, Camping available
Perched on the rolling hills of Mount Cobetas overlooking the artistic heart of the Basque Country, Bilbao’s BBK Live is one of the most enriching destination music festivals. With sets beginning later in the afternoon, the days are left free to eat pintxos, peruse Museo Guggenheim and even visit nearby Games of Thrones filming locations.
This year’s line-up boasts LCD Soundsystem, Placebo, Moderat, The Killers, Stromae, J Balvin and Pet Shop Boys.
Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz
Dates: June 16-18, camping available
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Azkena Rock Festival takes pride in the raised-eyebrows from fans over its seemingly confused lineups, meant to appeal across the spectrum of music fans and introduce different generations to artists they might not normally seek out, this year pairing the likes of Patti Smith with The Offspring, and Social Distortion with Emmylou Harris, there’s something for everyone to be introduced to and is known for its open and relaxed environment.
At La Virgen Blanca, the city square in the Old Quarter, designed in the shape of an almond, special performances pop up around the monument to the Battle of Vitoria during the festival, making for an epic scene for once-in-a-lifetime performances.
Dates: June 16-18, 2022
Every June since 1994, Sónar has confirmed Barcelona as the center of the European electronic music scene. Split between Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night sets, the multidisciplinary festival ties together music, technology and creativity. A member of We Are Europe, a collective of eight major European events established to promote creative diversity and exchange through culture, Sónar has spawned editions in Reykjavik, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Bogota and Buenos Aires. This year’s Barcelona edition returns with acts ranging from The Chemical Brothers, Princess Nokia, Jayda G, Ms NIna, Moderat, Oneohtrix Point Never and Arca.
Festival Cruïlla, Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona
Dates: July 6-9 (4 Days)
The name “Cruïlla” means crossroads in Spanish, with an emphasis on a more eclectic lineup, with an emphasis on local sounds, art and additionally comedy sets.
Setting up shop at Parc del Fòrum in Barcelona less than a month following Primavera Sound, this year’s event brings Juan Luis Guerra, Jack White, Duran Duran, Hot Chip, Residente, Molotov, Rels B and Trueno together to the Catalonia seaside.