Festival fever is now a worldwide condition. It’s never been more trendy to camp in a field, don a pair of wellies and a pint of cider, and get lost in music from dawn until dusk (or dusk until dawn).

But with a buffet of music festivals on offer, from the niche to the global, organisers have to work harder than ever to attract music lovers to their events.

Yet even in a competitive market place, Primavera Sound remains a sell-out festival, year on year. In 2017, it’s estimated that over 200,000 people flocked to Barcelona (and 95,000 to Porto for its sister festival, NOS Primavera Sound). Just what is making the crowds fly out to Spain and Portugal year upon year?

One reason is that it celebrates and showcases all niches, big and small. In three days, you could go to the best of dance, hip hop, ambient post-rock, dream pop. ‘Indie rock’ is no longer an adequate encompassing description, when you have everything from Car Seat Headrest to Waxahatchee.

And it’s all planned out with precision. Despite clashes abound for the indecisive music lover, there are areas and sub-areas depending on your music tastes. You could go over the bridge to Bacardi Live and enjoy electronica to your heart’s content. You could flip between the Pitchfork, Ray Ban and Primavera stages on a Saturday night and see only dream pop. You could never see a headliner at the entire festival, and still leave completely satisfied with the extensive caliber. As said to the crowd at the War On Drugs set, ‘welcome to the best festival in the world’.

It also has international appeal. Acts flock from Taiwan to the UK, France to Mali, the USA to Nigeria. And in no way are any of the acts token ones, invited purely to increase potential festival demographics. Ousou Sangare is a Malian superstar; Jane Birkin a French legend. And all in a picturesque setting, with the sea on one side, rolling mountains on the other.

The line up this year has boasted an eclectic line up, but that’s not unusual. In 2017, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, and The XX; in 2016, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, and Sigur Ros. When you scan the list of 200+ artists, there’s the instant recognition, the familiar names that make you think ‘well, I’ve always wanted to see that’. And for those with an eager eye on hot music, they’ll know the line up also doubles up as a handy crib sheet of all the leading music acts on the scene from the last few years. If you’re a genre-hopping music fan and you don’t know the name of an artist on the list, chances are you probably should.

The site is expansive, so it only felt really busy in the late evening and early hours. But for those who still can’t face the crowds, then NOS Primavera Sound is also an option. The festival is set in a giant park on the outskirts of the city, with stages bordered by trees rather than concrete infrastructure.

And the line up in Porto, although lacking the biggest headliners, is enough to convince music lovers to book their plane tickets to Portugal. There’s a real warmth in the Portuguese festival addendum that’s impossible to achieve in a festival the scope of the Barcelona variation – despite attracting almost a hundred thousand last year, it still manages to achieve the vibes of a small festival.

Whichever variation of Primavera Sound takes your fancy, the future has never looked brighter for music festivals.



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