Back in the mid nineties, more precisely in June 1994 the journalist Ricard Robles together with musicians and visual artists Sergio Caballero and Enric Palau, laid the foundations of what has become one of the best Dance music and Multimedia Art festivals in the World Sonar Festival. At the beginning it was known as “Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art”. The first edition took place at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, where it was Sonar by Day, and Sonar by Night at the Apolo Club. The first DJ performances were by none other but, Sven Väth, Laurent Garnier, Mixmaster Morris, Holger Czukayand others. The first event had moderate recognition by the Spanish media with over 40 members and 6000 attendees. The event included two fairs “Technology Fair” and “Record Fair”, which are now known today as SonarPro.
In the next 2 years to follow, the festival’s attendance tripled from 6000 to 18 000 visitors in 1996. In the years to come the attendance grew even further to over 53 000 people, immersing in the art and tech scenes, and parties of Sonar Festival. In recent years, annually there are over 80 000 visitors of the festival.
After the 2000’s Sonar grew into a more colorful festive with Brazilian dancers, dogs on wheels, and twins with extrasensory powers. The organizers have always focused on a diverse line-up together with the likes of Squarepusher, Goldfrapp, DJ Zero, Fennesz, Bruce Gilbert and many others.
Soon after Sonar by Night became more and more popular, leading to an expected decision of moving the location of the event to a larger one. The new place was and still is the Fira Gran Via area, in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona’s Zona Franca area. With the now bigger event area, Sonar Festival increased the scale of its night-time parties, with more artists, additional audiovisuals, all of which concluded in more visitors of the festival.
What to Expect at Sonar Festival Barcelona
Today Sonar by Night offers different even locations such as SonarLab, SonarPub, SonarCar and SonarPark. Some of Sonar’s epic parties have taken place in that location, including Bjork (2002), Pet Shop Boys (2002), The Chemical Brothers (2005), Chic (2006), Beastie Boys (2007), Grace Jones (2009).
The Sonar by Day events include movie screenings at SonarCinema, installations at Sonarama, tech activities at SonarPro and exhibitions at SonarMatica. In 2013 Sonar by Day followed Sonar by Night, in moving into a greater area, the Fira Montjuic facilities at Plaza d’Espanya. SonarPro expanded furthermore by giving a new beginning to its evolution and creating Sonar+D.
The Sonar crew is also focused on other showcases and presentations which are not strictly related to the festival. By supporting them, they have managed to attract around 70 000 visitors yearly.
In the years to follow more iconic performances included the likes of Krafwerk with a special 3D show, Richie Hawtin who as we all know is always stepping up the game with his incredible visuals, Paul Kalkbrenner bringing in his own melodic Techno sound, the infamous Nicolas Jaar, as well as the established artists such as, Todd Terje, Seth Troxler and Lindstrøm, and many other artists.
By 2007 Sonar Festival has contributed to Catalonia’s economy with more than 52 million euros. The festival has a great impact on the local tourism, with hotel occupancy of over 83% in the last few years.
Sonar Festival Worldwide
With the increased interest of Sonar Festival, the organizers decided to expand its borders Worldwide to new locations such as, London, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Rome, Tokyo, Osaka, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Buenos Aires and many other.
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TICKETS FOR SONAR
If you are interested in purchasing tickets for the Sonar festival, you can find general information here.
HOW TO GET TO SONAR FESTIVAL
You can pretty much book a flight from almost every city on Earth to Barcelona’s main International airport- El Prat. The airport is in close distance of the city, around 12-14km from the city center.
If you are looking for a cheap flight, there are several low cost carriers such as Norwegian, EasyJet, Wizz Air, Air Berlin, Ryanair, Monarch Airlines, TUI Fly and others. An even less expensive option is to take the RyanAir (available from all major cities in Europe) to the city of Zaragoza, for around 35 euros and then take the train to Barcelona, which only lasts for around 1.5 hours.
Additionally there are three other airports- Girona Airport, which is north of the city, Reus Airport which is to the south (they are around 1 hour by car from the city), as well as Lleida Airport which is the furthest away, with just over 2 hours from the city.
There are 3 main train stations in the city- Barcelona Sants, Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia and Barcelona Estació de França. Most train routes are linked to Portugal and France as a border countries, but there are many other train-connections to cities Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, England, Netherlands, Belgium.
Barcelona is well connected with main roads towards rest of Spain, as well as France. Traffic is moderately intensive in peak hours, as in all major cities. There are free parking spaces, but beware where you park. Blue parking spaces must be paid for M-Sa 09:00-14:00 and 16:00-18:00. At some crossroads the free time ends at 08:00. Anyone can use a blue space but they aren’t that easy to find. You pay at the meter and put the ticket on the dashboard. Green parking spaces are for residents only. White parking spaces are free at all times, but there aren’t any in the city center.
Barcelona’s port is one of the busiest on the Mediterranean coast. If offers 9 passenger terminals, 7 intended for cruise liners and 4 intended for ferries. There are options to take bus shuttles to the city center. Barcelona can be reached by sea from several International ports, Rome, Genoa, Sardinia, Balearic Islands, Livorno, Tangier and Algiers.
ACCOMMODATION AT SONAR FESTIVAL
Sonar Festival does not offer specifically designed for the event accommodation, but is providing useful links and information regarding, where to stay on their website.
Nevertheless, there is a grande choice of accommodation to choose from in Barcelona. Some useful websites to search from are:
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to Sonar Festival Barcelona and to see you there next year.
Images copyrights Sonar Festival