Benicàssim International Festival
The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim is Spain’s attempt to replicate Glastonbury, and a very good one at that, for it has grown into one of the biggest festivals on the European circuit. It all started in 1995, when 8,000 visitors came to see the Charlatans and Supergrass, and within two years it has outgrown the resort where it was based and moved to the outskirts, where there is ample room for the thousand of party-goers to camp. Many of these tend to arrive long before the music starts and stay for days after – after all, there’s also sun, sea, sand and, if you get lucky, sex to be enjoyed.
It’s party heaven, attracting some of the top rock, pop and electronica acts in the world, which in the past have included Primal Scream, Paul Weller, Depeche Mode, Beck, Radiohead, Kraftwerk, The Stone Roses, Blur, Lou Reed, Oasis, The Chemical Brothers, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Morrissey, The Strokes, Kaiser Chiefs, Depeche Mode, The Cure and The Arctic Monkeys.
Unlike most festivals in Spain, it has very little pretence of promoting lesser bands – the primary focus is one getting the biggest names it can. And neither does it do much to promote local artists – very few Spanish bands tend to appear and it controversially refuses anyone that sings in Spain’s minority languages of Basque, Catalan and Galician- which is especially surprising considering Catalan, or Valenciano as some prefer to call the local dialect, is one of the official languages in the region. Really, although Benicàssim happens in Spain, it’s not a Spanish festival. In 2011, 47% of tickets were sold abroad, and especially in Britain, where most of the main acts tend to come from.
The 2009 event made the headlines when the perils of nearby scrub-fire mixed with high winds meant Kings of Leon were among the bands whose sets were cancelled for safety reasons, while 2010 saw more than 200,000 tickets sold for the first time. However, a year later attendance slumped to just 127,000. The economic slump was blamed, as well as what many considered a poor line-up. But it is also facing increasingly stiffer competition from rival festivals, many of which are now snapping up big names that otherwise would have probably done Benicàssim.
Thursday July 12 to Sunday July 15, 2012
Agoria, Totally Enormous Extint Dinosaurs, Arvene & Misk, Bat For Lashes, Bombay Cycle Club, Cooper, Crystal Castles, Dave Clarke, Example, The Horrors, Joe Crepúsculo, Jero Romero, Katy B, Klaus & Kinski, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Little Dragon, Robyn Hitchcock, The Maccabees, The Vaccines, Miles Kane, Pony Bravo, School of Seven Bells, Sebastian, Yuksek
Arp Attack, Three Brandy Hips, Delorentos, Department S, Disappears, Django Django, Ham Sandwich, Howler, Juanita y los Feos, La Casa Azul, Ligers, Lisa Hannigan, Maverick Sabre, Maya Janes Coles, Óscar Mulero, The Secret Society, Sons Phonetic, Spector, The New Raemon, Tuya, Los Tiki Phantoms, Todd Terje
Benicássim is in the province of Castellón on the east coast. Like most places in the ‘Comunitat Valenciana’ it’s pretty much got bugger all going for it, but foreigners think it’s great because it’s hot and it got the sea. Any of Alicante or Valencia to the south of Reus or Barcelona to the north are reasonably good places to head for, and then it’s a question of finding the train that connects all these places and getting off at Benicassim. Come on you’re big boys and girls now, you can work it out.
There’s no map on this page because basically the whole town of Benicássim is converted into a festival for the four days of the festival, and it’s only a small resort, so unless you’re a complete numpty, you’ll be able to find the venue yourself, or otherwise ask one of the 150,000 odd other people that are presumably in town for the same reason as you.
If you’re very lucky you can book a hotel or hostel for the night. Very lucky. They’ll all be booked. Don’t even bother with that option. Do what everybody else does and rough it in a tent. If you haven’t got a tent, get one. If you have got a tent, do make sure it’s all there before you leave. You won’t because that’s far too sensible, but don’t blame us when you find yourself begging your neighbours for a spare peg. Although the temporary camp area is open from the Monday before to the Tuesday after, and if you can, you’re well advised to extend your stay. There are showers and toilets and all the works. But you’re sharing them with several thousand others. You’ll just have to get used to the smell of other people’s urine. And worse. Hey, keep smilin’, this is fun!
The great thing about Benicássim is that it’s not just about music. There are also film shows, art exhibitions and all kinds of other things that you won’t take a blind bit of notice of. But remember, not everybody is here for the music. No, some people are here to steal stuff. Be warned.