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. 

With longstanding mainstays like Primavera Sound as well as more-recent additions, here are all the festivals to check out in 2023. 

Primavera Sound, Barcelona
A packed house at Primavera Sound, Barcelona © Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock

Primavera Sound, Barcelona and Madrid

Dates: May 29–June 4, 2023 (Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona); June 5–11, 2023 (Arganda del Rey, Madrid)
Attendance: 175,000–190,000

Held in the sprawling Parc del Fòrum since 2005, the behemoth festival Primavera Sound has its sights set on a full Spanish conquest, with its second weekend moving from Barcelona’s seafront to the capital of Madrid.

It’s long been one of the world’s top festivals. Concertgoers from around the globe flock to Barcelona’s shores for unlikely reunions, special one-off performances and tour premieres. The lineup for 2023 is being promoted as “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” a reference to the Velvet Underground & Nico tune. Both city’s lineups are largely identical, boasting headliners Pet Shop Boys, Blur, Halsey, Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode, Rosalía, Calvin Harris, FKA Twigs and St Vincent. Highlights specific to Barcelona include Ghost and the War on Drugs, and; for Madrid, Sparks, The Mars Volta and Bad Gyal.

Primavera Porto celebrates its 10th anniversary in June in Portugal. Not only has the festival expanded beyond the Iberian Peninsula last year with a successful edition stateside in Los Angeles: it’s also grown to include 2023 Latin American versions in São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz

Dates: June 15–17, 2023; camping available
Attendance: 45,000

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 usually seek out. This year’s lineup pairs the likes of Iggy Pop, Rancid, the Pretenders, Incubus and Lucinda Williams – which means there’s something for everyone to be introduced to. The festival is known for its open and relaxed environment. 

At La Virgen Blanca, the city square in the Old Quarter that’s 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 shows. 

Sónar, Barcelona

Dates: June 15–17, 2023
Attendance: 120,000

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 Reykjavík, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Bogotá 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.

A large crowd of people sitting amidst tall trees, watching a performer at Vida Festival in Spain.
Vida Festival is an event for music connoisseurs © Joshua Mellin

Vida Festival, Vilanova i la Geltrú

Dates: June 29–July 1, 2023; camping available
Attendance: 10,000

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 – a mere 35-minute train ride from Barcelona – Vida Festival is crafted for music connoisseurs. Though grounds can accommodate up to 25,000, 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, all with improved acoustics. The low-key affair still pulls in big names, and this year’s edition doesn’t disappoint with indie darlings like Whitney, Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, Spiritualized and the Libertines taking the stage. A secret winter edition is held at the palatial Finca Mas Solers estate in December: the lineup is teased in advance through clues, but the artists are only revealed when they take to the stage to perform. 

Mad Cool Festival, Madrid

Dates: July 6–8, 2023
Attendance: 135,000

Since 2016, the Spanish capital’s flagship Mad Cool Festival has cast Madrid as the centerpiece of the summer festival circuit. It’s answering Primavera’s challenge in 2023 with an absolutely stacked lineup. Taking place from July 6 to 8, the festival offers a lineup with Robbie Williams, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Machine Gun Kelly, The 1975, The Offspring, Mumford & Sons, Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys, Sam Smith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Liam Gallagher, Janelle Monae and the Prodigy – one of the most impressive programs anywhere in the world.

A laser light show takes place over the heads of a crowd dancing to a night-time electronic music set at Bilbao BKK Live festival.
The sets at Bilbao BKK Live kick off later in the day, leaving time to check out the city  © Joshua Mellin / Lonely Planet

Bilbao BBK Live, Bilbao

Dates: July 6–8, 2023, camping available
Attendance: 110,000

Pound for pound, Bilbao BBK Live is one of the very best music festivals in the entire world. Perched on the rolling hills of Mount Cobetas overlooking the artistic heart of the Basque Country, this Bilbao event 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 the Museo Guggenheim and even visit nearby Games of Thrones filming locations

This year’s lineup see the return of fest-favorites Florence + The Machine, the Chemical Brothers and Phoenix, along with Pavement, Arctic Monkeys, Idles and Perfume Genius. The organizers are also known for making exciting last-minute additions. 

Sonar Festival, Barcelona, Spain
Confetti bursts from the stage at Sónar Festival in Barcelona © Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock

Festival Cruïlla, Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona

Dates: July 5–8, 2023
Attendance: 50,000

The word cruïlla means crossroads in Spanish – and this festival accordingly has an eclectic lineup, with an emphasis on local sounds, art and even comedy sets. Setting up shop at Parc del Fòrum in Barcelona less than a month after Primavera Sound, this year’s event brings Placebo, The Offspring, Sigur Ros, Alt-J, Franz Ferdinand and more together to the Catalonia seaside.

This article was first published Jan 20, 2020 and updated May 12, 2023.

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