Primavera Sound Music Festival
Starting life in 2001, the San Miguel-sponsored Primavera Sound Festival has grown over the last decade or so to become one of the largest and most prestigious festivals in Europe, let alone Spain and Barcelona. A city festival that takes place in late May, early June of each year Primavera has several things going for it, that many other similar events worldwide can't compete with. First of all there's the arena: a vast and surreal urban landscape in the form of Parc del Forum, that seems almost purpose-built for the job of hosting the party. Secondly there's the almost-guaranteed great weather (take that Glastonbury!). And thirdly, call us biased, but there's the fact that the PSF takes place in none other than Barcelona...
Unlike Barcelona's other renowned modern music fest, Sonar, which concentrates almost solely on electronic beats, Primavera Sound boasts a diverse line up year after year of artists that cover genres such as alternative, indie, pop, rap/hip hop, electro/dance, folk/world music, jazz and pretty much anything else you can think of. To name all the greats that have taken centre stage over the years would take more space than is allowed here, but just a few names you've missed would be Orbital, Pulp, Smashing Pumpkins, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, White Stripes, Motorhead and Primal Scream. And whilst the headliners every year may be household names, the real strength of the festival is the depth of great music provided by the bands that you love, but your mother has never heard of. Think Caribou, Warpaint, Of Montreal and Battles and Death Cab for Cutie. The one thing all the artists have in common is that they are pioneers and experimenters, and the festival takes pride in promoting new sounds and up and coming bands, as well as celebrating those legends that have broken through into the mainstream.
Above: Looking over the crowds from way back of the main stage
The dates of the festival can be a little confusing for the first time visitor, as they are often quoted as an entire week. However the vast bulk of the event takes place at the main venue, the Parc del Forum, over a three-day weekend of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The extra dates include the annual additional programme, which sandwiches the main three-day roster. In recent years there have been gigs on the Wednesday before and Sunday after, which were paid-for concerts taking place at Poble Espanyol, whilst in 2012 there were free concerts take place on Passeig de Lluis Companys, a beautiful pedestrianised street under the Arc de Triomf near Citadel Park. For 2013 expect a series of gigs at Sala Apolo (and its smaller sister La  de Apolo, which is the room downstairs), a new venue called BARTs on Paral-lel avenue and at the Parc del Forum itself. In fact this year these concerts start on the Monday before the festival begins, so take some extra time of work if you can!
Getting to Primavera Sound
The huge concrete 'park' is on a small hill by the coast on the Northern border of the city and easily accessible by the yellow line of the metro. Just alight at Maresme el Forum, which is a few minutes away from the venue. After that you can follow the crowds (you can't miss them!). A one journey ticket costs 2 euros, or you can buy a T10 card which gives you 10 journeys for less than 10 euros. The last metro leaves at midnight on Thursdays, 2am on Fridays and runs all night on Saturdays.
Other options include taking the red line of the metro to Glories, where you can change onto the tram which will take you down the long Diagonal avenue to the Forum. Otherwise you could just fight the crowds for taxis, which are pretty cheap in Barcelona, or look out for a special Primavera Sound shuttle bus which leaves from the central Plaza Catalunya every 10-15 mins and costs 2 euros per leg (as in journey leg, not per leg you want to bring on board... just in case that wasn't clear!).
Primavera Sound Accommodation
The clever festival-goer might want to put a bit of thought behind the location of their PSF accommodation. Essentially you want to be on a metro stop near the yellow line for easy access to and from the Parc del Forum. El Borne is a cool, albeit slightly touristic district, where you can hop onto Jaume I, and depending where you stay in the Gothic District that same metro stop could be close by. Either Vila Olimpica or Poblenou is perfect, especially if you fancy staying by the beach. Whilst if you are literally coming to Barcelona for the festival and the festival alone, then you could opt for one of the big high rise hotels around Diagonal Mar... within easy walking distance of the entrance gates, and miles away from the rest of Barcelona's attractions. Check out our hotel guide, hostel guide and article about short term apartment rentals for some of the best beds in town.
Primavera Sound Tips
It's the little things that make a difference between enjoying a festival and spending half of it in a queue, or shivering from cold for 10 hours on the first day. Our memories from last year are already a bit hazy, but we do encourage any readers to post any helpful information on making the most of Primavera in the comments section. One thing that's well worth doing is getting there early on the first day when everyone is collecting their tickets and exchanging them for wrist bands. Time this wrong and you could spend well over an hour with a close up view of the back of someone's neck. In terms of what to bring an extra layer is definitely helpful come the evenings, and a sea breeze means things can get pretty cool at nights. A festival bag with snacks and, depending on the weather forecast, small umbrella, might be handy too. Large cameras and drinks are forbidden... although if your alcohol budget is tight you can sink a few cheap cans before entering.
Buying Tickets for Primavera Sound
Where can you buy tickets? Start by checking out the official website, click on English version and look for the tickets section. It will give you a tonne of options to buy via Ticketmaster, Atrapalo etc., but the cheapest - and therefore best - option is via the official Primavera Ticket Portal. Full priced three-day festival ticket for 2013 costs 195 euros, although if you book early enough in advance you can get them for considerably cheaper. Typically early bird tickets go on sale around the start of the year and prices start rising shortly after. You can also buy entradas for just one day, which cost in the region of 65-75 euros.
2013 Line Up & Dates
The big news for 2013 is that Brit-pop legends Blur will be headlining the festival, which is something to excite indie kids and ageing musos who remember them first time around alike! However as always with Primavera Sound there's no shortage of big names and exciting newcomers to rock the mics... some bands that Barcelona Life are particularly excited about are Hot Chip, The Knife, Crystal Castles, Deerhunter, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Four Tet, Foxygen, Simian Mobile Disco, My Bloody Valentine, Wu-Tang Clan, The Knife, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Phoenix, The Postal Service, Fiona Apple, The Breeders, Swans, Band of Horses, James Blake, Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, John Talabot, Disclosure, Dead Can Dance, Titus Andronicus, and Fuck Buttons. For a full list of acts check out the line up on the official site, where they also have an awesome video introducing the bands (embedded above)! The dates are 22nd to 26th May 2013.
Wanna know who came in previous editions? Check below..
2012 Line Up & Dates
Right so who's coming to Barcelona this spring? Here's a little teaser of headliners and highlights of the line up for 2012: Bjork, The Cure, Death Cab For Cutie, Saint Etienne, Death in Vegas, Erol Alkan, The Field, Justice Live, Kings of Convenience, Mazzy Star, Mudhoney, The Rapture, Spiritualised, Franz Ferdinand, The XX, Yann Tiersen, Yo La Tengo. For the full monte head to the official website, innit. The dates for the diary are May 30th to June 3rd.