Experimentation. Innovation. Technology. Essential terms to define Sonar, a three-day electronic and advanced music festival that instigates an annual take over of Barcelona in the middle of the European summer.
Sonar was first founded in 1994 by Ricard Robles, Enric Palau and Sergi Caballero, and still holds onto the original two part set up: Sonar by Day and Sonar by Night, the latter of which is hosted in a vast airport hangar. Across both, quality control is ridiculously high. The talent mix isn’t exclusively dance and electronic music focussed, and the experience is as educational as it is inspiring. Sonar prides itself on being an intellectual playground for everything cutting-edge and digital, best demonstrated through the multi-floored destination, Sonar+D. The cool tradeshow is up and running during Sonar by Day. Featured are workshops, demos and keynote speeches, alongside loads of futuristic computer gear to gawk at, and plenty of interactive displays. Want to rock out on a dance pad and see moves converted from motion into sound? Sonar+D is the place to be. Looking to upgrade gear and want the best there is? Sonar+D is a necessary stop off en route to working up a sweat.
Overall, Sonar will pull lethargy out of the body and leave it outside the ticketing gates. It will challenge stereotypes, encourage new interests and make attendees wonder what planet these new, foreign sounds came from. It will even indulge ears with some major pop moments too. All this from a city festival, where the sun is never not shining, and the beach is there to soothe those who partied their hardest all weekend long.
WORDS OF WISDOM
- Don’t rely on taxis. This is a city festival, and taxis are a rare catch.
- Carefully plan arrival time to Sonar by Night. Headliners are on around 10.30pm. Organisers recommend arriving an hour before.
- Extend the stay. Leave a few days free to check out life outside the dance floor in the Catalan capital. The city’s wealth of architectural marvels, labyrinth-like neighbourhoods and general cultural complexity is not to be missed. If the legs can handle it after a weekend of grooving, the best way to do it is by walking.
- Book ahead to secure the best. The Mercer in Barca’s Barri Gotic neighbourhood will deliver peaceful respite when needing a place to recuperate post Sonar. For a more happening scene, Hotel Omm sits perkily in the middle of the action on Passeig de Gracia, and features a rooftop bar and pool. From here, enjoy views across the city rooftops. Booking a table at Hotel Omm’s Michelin-starred restaurant wouldn’t hurt either…
- For those seeking the ultimate independent city stay, book one of Luxury Apartments Barcelona’s spacious pads. Fitting for those who prefer to cater for themselves or are looking to entertain.
- Lunch at Martinez in the hilltops of Montjuic.