Benicassim 2011 Preview

Being a cash-strapped student, I often approach the long awaited summer holidays and think: cheap holiday abroad or music festival? After much deliberation, I always reach the same answer year after year. Music festival. As the line ups begin to trickle out in early January, I find myself endlessly checking rumour forums and festival websites trying to decide which festival to attend with my limited budget. However, this year I thought I’d try and get the best of both worlds. Festival International de Benicàssim (FIB) is one of Europe’s largest music festivals and takes place on Spain’s east coast, just north of Valencia.

With the campsite opening on the 11th of July this year and scheduled artists not starting until the 14th, there is ample time to enjoy this music festival as a holiday. The intense July heat also means the acts do not start until after 6PM, so festival goers can enjoy a siesta on the beach while anticipating the night ahead. There are not many festivals that replace cold showers and muddy campsites with bathing in the Mediterranean Sea and relaxing on the beach, but at Benicàssim this is certainly possible. However, for us traditional festival goers, staying in the grounds of FIB presents the same festival culture experience crave every year, with the added bonus of beautiful sunshine.

The real fun begins on Thursday the 14th where UK rap giants The Streets, who recently announced that this would be their last ever tour, top the bill in a first day line up worthy of any festival. This announcement makes Mike Skinner a “must see” this summer as he may never perform as The Streets when this tour is over. Other highlights on the first day include Paolo Nutini, Chase and Status and one of my favourite bands, Pendulum, who never fail to put on an unbelievable show. With the late announcement of Plan B only last week, the hopeful music fans among us will have visions of Ben Drew joining Chase and Status on stage to perform some of their collaboration tracks including UK top ten hit, “End Credits”.

Friday brings the much anticipated return of The Strokes after a five year hiatus during which frontman Julian Casablancas recorded his solo album. Elbow, James Murphy and The Stranglers will also be performing along with Brandon Flowers following his hugely successful solo album “Flamingo” which debuted at number one in the UK. Saturday sees Arctic Monkeys headline another incredible day of music which also includes a unique opportunity to see Primal scream playing their entire “Screamadelica” album from start to finish, marking twenty years since its release. Mumford and Sons exploded into the mainstream last year following the release of their debut album “Sign No More” in late 2009. They shall also be performing on the Saturday at Benicàssim and if they produce a set half as good as some of their performances at last years major festivals, we are all in for a treat.

Arcade Fire top the bill on the fourth and final day of live music at Benicàssim. This is the band that many festival goers will have been waiting on, myself included. On the back of their latest album “The Suburbs” winning a Grammy Award and the band also picking up two BRIT awards this year, Arcade Fire are the band to see this summer. Along with Portishead, Noah and the Whale and Tinie Tempah, this is the perfect end to an amazing summer festival experience.

Festival International de Benicàssim is the ideal combination of a relaxing beach holiday and a mind-blowing music festival. Being one of the largest music festivals in Europe, its reputation continues to grow every year, making it one holiday that students like myself cannot afford to miss.

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