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Primavera Sound in Barcelona kicks off Spain's summer of music

Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Lana Del Rey, and SZA
Pulp's Jarvis Cocker, Lana Del Rey, and SZA Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Jonny Walfisz
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With Pulp, Vampire Weekend, Lana Del Rey, SZA and The National in tow, Primavera Sound is shaping up to be the first big event of the summer.

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2024’s summer season of music festivals is set to kick off with a bang next week with the first of Primavera Sound’s weekends in Barcelona.

Primavera Sound is one of the biggest name festivals in Europe, playing host to some of the most spectacular line-ups in dazzling Iberian peninsula locations.

The first of this year’s Primavera Sound weekends runs 29 May to 2 June at the Parc del Fòrum in Barcelona, conveniently located next to the city’s glorious beaches.

After Barcelona, Primavera Sound will then relocate to Portugal’s second-biggest city of Porto for the weekend 6-8 June, with a streamlined version of the Barcelona festival’s line-up. Primavera Sound also plans to take its show on the road around South America in the second half of the year.

What makes Primavera Sound Barcelona so special?

Primavera Sound has expanded massively since its founding in 2001. Originally just a day festival at the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, it moved to the city’s Parc del Fòrum in 2005.

The festival added the Porto weekend to its calendar in 2012, and since then has gained serious momentum, beginning festivals in Los Angeles, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay along with an additional Barcelona weekend in 2022.

Last year, the festival’s first foray into another Spanish city - hosting dual festivals in Madrid - had an inauspicious start. The first day was a write-off when Madrid was hit by uncharacteristically stormy weather. While the rest of the festival was a success, the experience can’t have been a smooth one for organisers, with the Madrid weekend a conspicuous omission in the 2024 line-up that now promises a day event in Montevideo, Uruguay instead. 

Ezra Koenig, of Vampire Weekend, performs during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Saturday, April 27, 2024
Ezra Koenig, of Vampire Weekend, performs during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Saturday, April 27, 2024Amy Harris/2024 Invision

The Barcelona weekend is by far Primavera Sounds’ premier offering. It’s location at the northern end of the city’s beach promenade makes it one of the ideal spots for combining a festival with a city break.

Both Barcelona locals and tourists can enjoy the festival – which runs deep into the warm Spanish summer nights – while kicking back during the day at their leisure. Whether that means taking a dip in the beautiful Mediterranean waters, indulging in endless tapas, or appreciating the city’s bountiful cultural sites, the ball is in your court.

A line-up to die for

Festival fans in Europe will all be familiar with Primavera Sounds’ incredible knack for booking line-ups replete with some of the biggest names on the circuit. This year is no different with the three-day festival featuring multiple top tier artists.

Headlining this year’s event in Barcelona are Britpop titans Pulp, New York indie rockers Vampire Weekend and returning French disco legends Justice - and that’s just the top billing for the Thursday night. 

Across the weekend, other headliners include Lana Del Rey, The National, Disclosure, SZA, PJ Harvey, Mitski, and Charli XCX. If that’s not enough, a special public access event in the city a day before the festival kicks off has Phoenix headlining.

Matt Berninger, of The National, performs on stage at Shaky Knees Music Festival on Sunday, May 6, 2018
Matt Berninger, of The National, performs on stage at Shaky Knees Music Festival on Sunday, May 6, 2018Paul R. Giunta/2018 Invision

There’s truly something for everyone. Indie rock fans have Pulp, Vampire Weekend, PJ Harvey and the National to keep them happy, while there’s impressive pop girlies in Lana, SZA, Mitski and Charli XCX.

Delving deeper into the line-up, there’s plenty of queer representation with Troye Sivan, Ethel Cain, Mannequin Pussy and Romy, while heavier sounds are brought by the likes of Deftones. There’s also a 10 year anniversary performance from Freddie Gibbs & Madlib of their seminal Piñata album.

Euronews Culture will be at Barcelona's Primavera Sound next week, so stay tuned to hear how this stacked line-up holds up in person.

What’s next for summer festivals?

Primavera Sound is just the clarion call of a bumper summer for music festivals across Europe. Just a day after events kick off in Barcelona, over in France one of the country’s most unique festivals will also be getting started.

Les Nuits de Fourvière in Lyon runs from 30 May through to 25 July in its astonishing UNESCO World Heritage Site location at the Roman amphitheatre built on the Fourvière hill. Over the two-month long festival, the astonishing ancient stage will be taken over by tons of artists from every possible discipline.

This year’s line-up has PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem, Cat Power, AIR, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, MC Solaar, Justice, IAM, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Idles, Parcels, and the great Patti Smith gracing the stage. 

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We’re also looking forward to Australian circus company Gravity & Other Myths bringing their show The Pulse to Fourvière, as well as Venice Biennale Golden Lion-winner Christiane Jatahy offering up her gender-switched take on Hamlet.

British singer-songwriter PJ Harvey performs during her concert at the 25th Sziget (Island) Festival in northern Budapest, Hungary in 2017
British singer-songwriter PJ Harvey performs during her concert at the 25th Sziget (Island) Festival in northern Budapest, Hungary in 2017Balazs Mohai/MTI - Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund

June is when festival season truly gets going, with highlights including the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret, Belgium’s Rock Werchter, and of course, the UK’s legendary Glastonbury Festival.

Over in Spain, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into between bites of patatas bravas. First, there’s Sónar Festival, also in Barcelona and held from 13-15 of June. A more electronic and hip-hop focused line-up, Sónar will welcome Air, Jessie Ware, Vince Staples, Floating Points and Kaytranada.

Things ramp up in July as Mad Cool in Madrid and Bilbao go back-to-back from 10-13 and 11-13, respectively. Those wishing to stay in the capital for Mad Cool will enjoy sets from the likes of Dua Lipa, the Smashing Pumpkins, Janelle Monáe, Pearl Jam, Måneskin and the Killers.

Over on the northern coastal city of Bilbao, the namesake festival has an equally impressive line-up, with Massive Attack, the Prodigy, Grace Jones, Underworld, Arcade Fire and Jungle all headlining.

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