It is hot. Hotter than usual and for longer. The good news is that as the month continues, it will become cooler and more comfortable. The south of the country has seen record breaking temperatures, but even here in the northeast, it has been uncomfortably hot at times, especially at night.
In fact, the climate has become the major topic for discussion of late, though the Spanish are always inclined to talk about weather anyway. Now though, almost every opening remark is about how hot or less hot it might be at that moment. As we all find ways to stay cool, be it on the beach or in the pool, with blinds closed indoors or standing under a cold shower two or three times a day, there is plenty going on in the country to distract us from the unusually hot summer.
August is really a great month in Spain. Most people are on holiday (the downside is that businesses are closed for the month), the local economies are receiving a boost as nearly every bar and restaurant is full, and reservations are a must. Local shops are benefitting too, and in daily life, you hear a multitude of languages. People from all over the world love Spain!
What is so great about Spain in August? In one word: music.
Whatever your taste, you will find a large or small music festival in practically every town. The smaller ones are usually more intimate but still attract big names. The big, internationally known music festivals get booked up well in advance and you would need to be on their mailing list to have a hope of getting a ticket and at an affordable price. Many, unfortunately, are now pricing locals out with corporate and foreign bookings creating the demand which result in high prices. Do not despair, though, as the smaller festivals are excellent value and attract many legends of the music world, as well as the new and younger musicians.
Those of us fortunate to live here have all year round access to music, but the summer offers the greatest choice and locations. To be able to see one’s favourite artists within easy reach without breaking the bank is a luxury. Let’s look at some of this summer’s events…
Music in Catalonia
I will begin in Catalonia, where I live. It is a very large autonomous region and obviously, Barcelona is the main attraction as it in the capital. The website Songkick lists 455 upcoming music and concert events of every type. If you are in the capital, take a look:
Callela de Palafrugell, Cap Roig Festival has become very expensive but then, with performers such as Sting and Spain’s most popular singer, Pablo Alborán, they can demand high prices. In the past many top performers, including Andrea Bocelli have delighted audiences.
Festival de Música de Begur is affordable and set in an intimate location. It also offers a wide variety of music. The pretty town of Begur is intself a major attraction with tourist of every nationality spending time there. I had the great pleasure of seeing a music legend from the US, Suzanne Vega there recently. A beautiful, low key evening with lovely music all for €32.
Festival de Jazz, L’Estartit. Apart from the spectacular location at the end of the promontory, this is a uniquely intimate space dedicated to jazz. Listen to the best music surrounded by the gently lapping sea while a boat glides silently by. Last Sunday I was there to see Stacey Kent from the US spend an evening of gentle jazz with us. Ticket €22. There were several food trucks and bars just outside the venue and tables and chairs overlooking the sea. A great and inexpensive evening out.
Festival Castell Peralada. On a larger scale, set in the pretty grounds of the Castle at Peralada, is an important music festival which offers some very big performers but at sensible prices. Located not far from the French border and Figueres, famous for Salvador Dalí’s museum, the castle is also a casino with restaurant. During the music festival the restaurant is outside in the grounds with several bars, some corporate and some not. There is ballet, opera and popular music on offer. In the past I have seen the great Lang Lang play (€48), Placido Domingo (€52) and the ballet dancer, Carlos Acosta (€48). This year’s treat was the fabulous US band, Pink Martini (€42). Admittedly, the seats weren’t front row or even close but the venue isn’t enormous, so even towards the rear you get to see it all.
Music in the Valencian community
There are many pop, reggae and other music festivals but I have chosen one which is the Mediterránea Festival. It’s a great smaller festival to listen to homegrown talent and to discover Spanish singers and popular music. Held over 2 days, 19th and 20th August, it takes place on the beach at Playa de Tavernes de la Valldigna. Tickets are €48.
Music in Alicante province
Low Cost Festival, Benidorm
Some top artists come to perform at this festival which is seriously not expensive and allows people of all budgets to enjoy great music. Held in July for 3 days, it is perhaps akin to Glastonbury but in the sunshine. Similar music, some of the same bands.
Cuban music is much to the fore at this festival but there are other types of jazz on offer and swing. Normally, you don’t need to book as there is no capacity limit.Concerts start at 10.30 pm and are held in the Plaza de Constitució. Some concerts are free. In fact, check out bars and other venues as there is music being played all over the town and nearby.
Music in Malaga province
In many ways similar to the festival in Cap Roig, Catalonia, the Starlite hosts some of the great international artists. Andrea Bocelli will be singing on 15 August, a Public Holiday in Spain. Prices can be eyewatering but the venue should be included as some performances are affordable and you get the chance to see some top performers.
If you like the Artic Monkeys and similar music, head to the Plaza de Toros in Torremolinos from 24th August to 28th August. There are bars and food outlets and you should have several evenings of fun by the sea. Tickets per evening are just €40.
The autumn is Jazz Festival time. I can’t wait!