Rototom Sunsplash is one of Europe's biggest reggae festivals. Originally hosted in northern Italy, the festival has migrated to the resort-town of Benecassim. Lasting 8 days, the festival brings some of the biggest names in roots reggae, dancehall, dub and ska to the sunny shores of the Spanish coast.
2013: Damian Marley, Alborosie, Dub Inc, Robbo Ranx
2012: Alborosie, Morgan heritage, Michael Rose, Johnny Osbourne, Barrington Levy
2011: Toots and the Maytals, Lee Scratch Perry, Shaggy, Ziggy Marley
Fittingly for a reggae festival, the atmosphere at Rototom Sunsplash is relaxed and accepting. The festival brings in a diverse crowd, from dreadlocked and hemp-sporting rastafarians, to local residents of the town with children in tow. Every year the theme of the festival changes; last year it celebrated Jamaica's 50th anniversary of independence, and this year it will mark the 20th year since the festival was founded. Red, green and gold, the colors associated with reggae, are festooned around the stages, which are also decorated with other traditional rasta symbols, such as the lion of Jah.
The festival area is spacious, and includes plenty of seats and tables around the food stalls, as well as hammocks and bean chairs where festival goers can relax. During the day there are shuttles that go from the festival area to the surrounding beaches, so that everyone attending can make the most of the sunny weather and the coastline.
It has to be said that temperatures are grueling. Campers staying for the full week will probably feel burnt out towards the last couple days due to the heat and lack of sleep. Frequent showers are a must.
The festival hosts five stages, each dedicated to a different style. After the headlining acts finish on the main stage, the other stages start playing, usually until the morning.
There is a little something for everyone. As well as the big names roots reggae, there is a dub stage for the lovers of electronic music, a dancehall stage, showcasing a genre of music that is growing increasingly popular in the UK, and a ska stage for those who go in for a more punky sound, as well as a stage dedicated to new and emerging artist.
Ticket prices vary according to the duration of the stay and whether they include a camping space or not, and prices go up in August.
Free entrance for children under the age of of 12 and adults over 65, as well as for all disabled people in wheelchairs, as well as deaf people and blind people.
Average temperatures in August are 30 degrees in the day and 20 at night.
A list of hotels and hostels and apartments can be found on the Benicàssim tourist board website.
The Valencia airport, located 90 kilometers from Benicàssim, is the nearest to the town. There are buses and trains that connect Valencia to the Benicàssim train station.
Alternatively, festival goers flying into Barcelona can get a train from there as well. However the ride can take from 2.5 to 4 hours.
The campsite includes various amenities, including a wi-fi zone, power outlets, two cooking zones with 40 cookers each, free showers, as well as basic toilet facilities.
There is a family zone for campers with children. This area is slightly separate, in a quieter part of the camp, and has more shade.
Campervans, caravans and vans (but not cars) are allowed to camp in the campsite in a special designated area.
There are several supermarkets located 20 minutes away in the town itself. Food and drink can be brought into the campsite but not into the festival grounds.