I’m sure we all agree that much of the British festival scene is in tatters. Sure, if you’re willing to deviate from the likes of Reading you might catch some acts that are a little (read: endlessly) more interesting than Kasabian, but ultimately you’ll probably still be forking out far too much money to drag your wellingtons through the rainy mud as the droves of post-GCSE revellers continue to feel each other up and piss on your tent.
For these reasons, most people seem to have made the transition to the international festivals on offer around Europe. At a minimum, it’s an excuse to check out a new place and meet a wider variety of people. Added bonuses include lower ticket prices, and a better chance of sunshine. While there are many such festivals around these days, Benicassim continues to be a personal favourite. Thanks to other travel plans I’ve not been in attendance over the past couple of years, which is why I’m excited about my triumphant return to Spain’s gorgeous East coast.
Far from being just a festival, Benicassim doubles up as an excellent beach holiday: there’s great beach to be discovered if you head a little out of town, and the holiday element is made even easier by the 8 nights free camping included in the festival ticket. There’s no better way to meet new people before the festival, or unwind for a few days after the partying, than kicking back on the beach with a jug of sangria and ridiculous sun hat. It’s also possible to squeeze in a lot of beach time throughout the festival, as the music doesn’t even start until the sun sets, allowing you to recover from the night before and kick-start yourself for the evening’s affairs.
And let’s not forget the music. Rather than honing in on vegan crunk or moombahton in particular, the festival offers an eclectic mix of sounds to cater for all palettes. Between the three stages and the silent disco, you’d struggle to avoid being entertained. The fact that the music rolls on all night also means that you can dance your socks off without really worrying too much about hyperthermia or sunburn. Being a creature of the night I often find it hard to get my body moving before lunchtime, making the evening-centred music just perfect.
The town itself is also absolutely lovely, and surprisingly affordable if you’re willing to hop away from the main streets into the smaller side streets, where you’ll easily find paella and sangria at about half the price and double the quality. Having such great restaurants and countless hip bars at your disposal makes the festival camping experience a lot more enjoyable. Being quaint and small, the contents of Benicassim are also in such close proximity that any form of navigation is pretty much idiot proof.
While some festival-goers opt to travel over to the festival with the beloved folk at RyanJet, an increasing number are starting to turn the journey into a bit of a road trip. Providing you have the time, this is certainly a great way to do it. After all, Benicassim is just a short drive from the charming old city of Valencia. In addition to more great beaches, restaurants and bars, the city has countless interesting things to check out. Beyond its incredible exterior, the City of Arts and Science offers a slightly different angle on the topics covered at the institutions around South Ken, and neighbourhoods like the Barri del Carme manage to capture so well the iconic features of traditional Spanish life.
The city is now equipped with_ Valenbisi_, the city’s answer to the Boris Bike. Of course, given the sheer flatness of Valencia and the lack of lunatic city boys on the roads, the experience here is a lot more serene. It’s a great way to amble through the old neighbourhoods and stumble across undiscovered boutiques and hidden landscapes looking out of the city. And of course, the city is equipped with plenty of affordable accommodation to rest your weary head at the end of it all.
Benicassim ticks all the boxes for me: eclectic beats, fantastic eateries and sunshiny days. The international festival brings together a great mix of people in an interesting place that’ll keep you busy until your eight day camping pass expires. And if you’ve got the funds, it’s a great lead-in to nearby Valencia and the rest of Europe. It just doesn’t make sense to keep bouncing around the same old festivals in England when there’s more out there to see. As far as festivals go, Felix Travel’s mind is made up. Hopefully you won’t miss out and we’ll see you on the beach for a refreshing sangria!
Benicassim 2012 is taking place from the 12th to the 15th of July, and features over 100 acts across 4 stages. This year’s line-up features the legendary Bob Dylan and New Order, recently reunited Stone Roses, Florence and the Machine, and a huge list of other brilliant acts from across the globe. For tickets and further information visit FiberFib.com or contact the Editor.