As it’s due to start this week (and I’m insanely jealous that I’m not there), I thought I’d put together a travel flashback for Benicassim 2012.
For those not in the know, FIB (or the Benicassim festival) is an annual music festival set in the Spanish town of Benicassim, about an hour away from Valencia. It’s usually held early-mid July, and the music is on for four days from Thursday to Sunday.
I could just cut a long story short and tell you that Benicassim 2012 was probably the best week of my life, but that would end the blog post here and wouldn’t be very satisfying for you or me. So instead, I’m going to try and rekindle my very hazy memory and flesh out the post a bit.
Imagine taking everything that’s good about an English festival, putting it next to the beach, making the lineup a little better and making the booze cheaper. That, ladies and gentlemen, is somewhere close to describing Beni in a nutshell.
One of the main things that puts me off attending English festivals is the cost. I love live music and being a scruff as much as the next person, but there’s a part of me that absolutely begrudges paying £250 to sit in a field in Leeds for four whilst its absolutely pissing down and my pint is being watered down by the minute.
When we booked our Benicassim tickets, we went for the super “early bird” deal which cost us £125. This entitled us to four days of music and a whopping seven days of camping. The drawback? The lineup was totally empty at the time.
As more acts get announced and the festival draws closer, ticket costs do inevitably rise. However, I’d be surprised if they went over the £175 mark.
Looking back, it could have been disastrous and I had visions of me not liking a single band on the bill. Luckily, these slight doubts were soon erased when Stone Roses, Noel Gallagher and Miles Kane were among the first acts confirmed.
It’s not just the tickets that are cheap either. A stroll to the Mercadona supermarket in town saw us pick up 12 stubby cans of local lager for just €3, and a 70cl bottle of paint-stripping vodka for €4. A stark contrast to the €7.50 litres of Heineken you are forced to drink in the arena.
Ok, so we cheated a little here. Seeing as we saved ourselves some cash on our tickets, we decided to splash out an extra £80 to upgrade to the Villacamp site. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds, but words cannot describe how grateful we were for the shaded camping pitches. Waking up in a tent to 30 degree heat is never fun, even less so when unshaded.
Other perks were private showers, an on-site bar and food kiosk, a couple of extra days of music from local bands. Oh, and its much closer to the beach.
As for the general campsite, I can’t say I had the privilege of experiencing it. Bombay Bicycle Club, however, did close their set by saying “well done” to everyone staying in the “refugee camp” (their words, not mine). Take from that what you will.
As I’ve already mentioned, this worked out pretty well for me. Alongside the previously mentioned acts, we also got to see New Order, Bob Dylan, The Maccabees, Ed Sheeran and many more. Florence and the Machine sadly pulled out at the last minute but were more than adequately replaced by De La Soul, who were by far the biggest surprise of the festival for me.
Once the headliners were done and dusted by around 1/2am, acts such as Example and David Guetta would close the night. Not my cup of tea, but each to their own.
One thing I did like was that the whole thing didn’t kick off until about 7pm every evening. This obviously allowed you to spend the day sunning yourself and recovering from the previous night, but also allayed any fears of being in a compact crowd in blistering heat. A very sensible move indeed.
This is probably where we made the biggest cock up. We decided to have a night in Barcelona before getting the train to Beni on Monday. At midday on Monday, we arrived at Barcelona Sants station to a sea of backpacks and a queue longer than I care to describe, all wanting to buy a ticket for the same train.
Not only did we miss the train, but we were told that the next one would be four hours later. I have two bits of advice to give from this. Firstly, try to book your train tickets in advance, but if you don’t, then turn left out of the station and head up the road about 200 yards. There, you’ll find a lovely little cafe that sells San Miguel for €1!
Once we arrived, it was going on for 9pm and we were still yet to collect our wristbands, buy our tents and find the campsite. It had all run so smoothly up until then! We eventually found a shop selling tents (Aldi had sold out) and then spent the next half an hour trying our best to flag down a taxi to no avail! By the time we’d done everything we needed to do, we arrived at the campsite ready to pitch up our tents…in the dark.
Next time, I’ll most certainly be learning from this part of the adventure!
That about as much as I think anyone will need to know, and as you see, you will always make your own mistakes to learn from. If you have any questions or comments, then feel free to give me a shout below and I’ll do my best to answer them!
P.S. Everyone going to Beni this year – I hate you.