Sónar, the electronic and advanced music festival, is an established perennial on the Barcelona festival calendar.
For a long weekend in the middle of June every year for more than two decades now the city has played host to some of the most important figures on the contemporary music scene. With a frenetic programme of activities organised both ‘on’ and ‘off’ Sónar, Barcelona becomes the epicentre of electronic music scene and its numerous subgenres. The dates for the 2018 edition of Sónar are June 14th, 15th and 16th – it will be the 25th anniversary of the festival which nowadays is a global brand and cultural phenomenon with editions spread over the five continents.
The electronic music reference festival
Much more than simply a music festival
Founded in 1994 Sónar is much more than simply an electronic festival and has, from its very beginnings aimed at becoming a promotional and interpretive platform for emerging musical and urban culture. This ambition is reflected by the founding figures behind the festival Ricard Robles, a music journalist together with Enric Palau and Sergi Caballero both musicians and visual artists. In fact the first edition was sub-titled “Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art” and took place at the CCCB (Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona) and the adjacent MACBA ( Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona) right at the heart of the city underscoring the confluence of electronic music, graphics, art and urban culture. A museologial approach that considers its subject matter from an holistic perspective. Including the business aspects of the industry which under the brand Sónar+D offers professionals a 3 day intensive course of activities with featured guests speakers, that in the past have featured musical icons such as Brian Eno, Jean-Michel Jarre and Richie Hawtin.
Night and Day
Sónar festival has since its first edition been divided into Sónar Day and Sónar Night, with the former providing a showcase for exhibitions, talks, trade fairs and other ancillary activities, while Sónar Night is entirely focused on the musical and performance aspects. Over the years these two strands of Sónar have occupied several spaces within the city and its environs reflecting the festival’s success and growth in terms of numbers, 6,000 visitors at the inaugural edition and the 115,000 attendees which is typical for more recent years. Since 2013 Sónar Day has been accommodated at the Fira Monjuïc, the precinct of trade pavilions located between Plaza España and the MNAC originally constructed for Bracelona’s 1929 World Exposition. Sónar Night on the other hand has since 2001 been held within the Fira Gran Vía area in the L’Hospital de Llobregat municipality located between the city centre and the airport, (before then it took place at the sala Apolo, the Mar Bella sports pavilion and Poble Espanyol).
A spectacle of visuals and lights
Due to the nature of its unusual venue Sónar Night offers invited artists a unique opportunity to perform to a crowd halfway between stadium and club. Organised over several spaces that are interconnected, each with their own physical and programmatic characteristics, some large enough to be able to accommodate up to 15,000 festival goers and incorporate visuals and lighting spectacles that are considered an integral part of the festival. The advertising graphics and merchandising for the festival have also been an integral part of the festival’s philosophy. Initially presided over by Sergio Caballero (one of the tree founders) the image is marked by an ironic and often provocative approach that breaks with the more traditional corporate campaigns of other similar festivals.
Although the programme for the 2018 edition has yet to be announced tickets go on sale from September 14th 2017 onwards and are available through SonarTickets by StubHub. Season tickets or the SonarPass which gives access to the day and night events as well as a selection of activities costs 165 Eur. while the SonarPass VIP is being promoted online at a special price of 250 Eur. This year for the first time Sónar Night (June 15th and 16th) will be accessible via Barcelona’s extensive underground Metro system, La Fira on the L9-S which links the city centre with the airport and opened late 2016. Sónar Day is easily accessible by metro, bus or the ferrocarril lines stopping at Plaza España.
Sónar as travelling ambassador for Barcelona
Sónar is a very important festival for the city of Barcelona, not only because of the revenue and the visitor numbers it generates but also because it projects an image of the contemporary and progressive city that Barcelona has for some years now aimed to foster. The festival is a pioneer in terms of having launched a slew of other music festivals held over the summer months throughout the peninsula, an estimated 200 in total, that benefit from the climate and other established attractions offered by Spain. Sónar has also exported its brand around the world with 47 events held in over 27 countries since the first international edition was held in London back in 2002, in cities like Chicago, Buenos Aires, San Pablo, Hamburg, New York and Seoul. To this day the Barcelona edition still retains its cache of attracting world class artists that give locals and visitors alike an opportunity to experience live performances from genuine musical icons and emerging artists.
How to get there are other useful information
Bus Lines - 23, 27, 46, 150, V7 / Metro, Metro Stop: Plaza España – L1 (Red Line), L3 (Green Line) / FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya) – L8, S3, S4 S8, S9, R5, R50, R6, R60
Bus Lines – H16
Metro, Metro Stop: La Fira – L9-S
FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya) – L8, S3, S4 S8, S9, R5, R50, R6, R60
There is also a specially laid on bus for professionals and attendees, check Sonar web for details; www.sonar.es
Telephone No. and web for TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona); 93 318 70 74 / www.tmb.cat
Information for Barcelona’s night bus network, Nitbus; 902 023 393
General info about restaurants and bars in Barcelona; Guía Punto
Photo by Daniele Dalledonne, CC BY 2.0