At a time of political uncertainty and in an atmosphere of economic precarity it is great to get a break from the doom and gloom and see that one thing at least is thriving
Summer is the most important time of year for Catalonia. Last year, more than two million people visited the country in July alone. The weather, the beaches, the food, the landmarks, the landscape, the culture, the list of attractions goes on, and one of the most important is the festivals. In recent years, Catalonia has become something of a specialist in summer festivals. As even a cursory glance at our coverage of the main summer events (pages 21 to 33) shows, culturally speaking, there is something for just about every taste, at just about any point during the summer months. It all adds up to a three-month extravaganza of music, theatre and dance that covers the entire country.
It all began with the Sónar festival, the music and media arts festival in Barcelona from June 14 to 16, which saw record attendances of more than 120,000 people this year. The Grec, Cruïlla, Mas i Mas, Peralada, Cambrils, all are still to come, and thousands upon thousands of people will pack these festivals out to see their favourite artists perform, often in the open air and under a balmy summer sky, in an experience they will never forget. At a time of such political uncertainty and in an atmosphere of economic precarity it is great to get a break from the doom and gloom and see that one thing at least is thriving.
If only it were so simple. While it is true that Catalonia’s summer festivals make something like 300 million euros in all (according to government data for 2015), only the biggest of them can survive independently on ticket sales, such as Sónar and Cruïlla, dispensing with a reliance on sponsorship and investing in innovation and expansion. For the many smaller festivals around the country things are not so rosy. The annual report from the music promoters association for 2015 found that fewer than 14% of people in Catalonia visited a festival, a drop of 3% compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, a study carried out by the UOC open university found that people are increasingly attending individual concerts in a festival rather than the whole event. The same experts also found that publically funded festivals have seen a drop in attendances of more than 6%.
So, I guess that means you can’t take anything for granted, and if we want Catalonia to continue to enjoy its golden age of summer festivals, we’ll just have to make the effort, check out what’s on offer and reserve those tickets. Did I mention that we have a comprehensive round-up of the main cultural events available this summer ?
- Catalonia Today 02-07-2017 Pàgina 62