Friday, June 23, 2006

Kulture Korner....Summer Festivals

With summer having started this week, and with the temperature in Madrid predicted to reach 36 degrees today, it’s perhaps not surprising that I start thinking about escaping from the city from time to time. July, apart from being the hottest month of the year here, is also the best month for summer festivals in different parts of the country. Two of my favourites, mostly oriented towards “world” music, are the festivals of Pirineos Sur and Mar de Musicas.

Pirineos Sur takes place in the small village of Lanuza in the province of Huesca. Deep in the heart of the Pyrenees and only a few kilometres away from France, the festival features a stage built on a lake at the edge of the village surrounded by mountains. The highlight of this year’s festival for me is a rare chance to see African reggae star Alpha Blondy. This festival is a perfect opportunity to combine music with good walking – the refuge of Respumoso or the lakes of Panticosa are both within relatively easy reach of this area and provide stunning high Pyrenees landscapes. There is a campsite in nearby Sallent (take earplugs if you don’t like all night drumming) as well as several hotels – it doesn’t matter how hot the temperature might be in the centre of the country, in Lanuza it’s almost always cool at night and you need clothes to keep warm.

Mar de Musicas takes place in Cartagena in Murcia. This year the emphasis is on South African music, although there is always a mixture of acts from different countries. The great location for the concerts on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean helps take your mind of the state of the town itself. With a bit of money spent on it, and there is plenty of money being made from the sea of plastic sheet agriculture in the surrounding area, the town could be quite pleasant. Unfortunately, the local authority doesn’t seem to have much interest in maintaining Cartagena, and parts of the centre look as if they are falling apart. This shouldn’t put anyone off the concerts themselves, and the lack of attractions in the town means that it’s hardly ever difficult to find a hotel. This festival combines well with a day or two by the beach, La Manga is not far away.

Here in Madrid in July we get concerts in what used to be an old barracks, and is now the Conde Duque cultural centre. Despite some increasingly repetitive programming, the patio of the barracks is perfect for concerts with excellent acoustics, and can be one of the few places where the air actually moves a bit on a hot summer night in Madrid. Time for a cold beer.

1 comment:

Tom said...

We're off to FIB at Benicassim in July. It's never the healthiest week of the year, but by jingo it's fun!