Sonar

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Page was last changed Jul 4th, 2018 @ 09:00:02

Sónar festival is billed as a festival of "music, creativity and technology", which translates to cutting-edge electronic music, multimedia art and the latest in musical tech. Sónar was founded in 1994 in Barcelona and recently celebrated its 25 event in its home town, while the organisation has expanded to include festivals in cities such as Istanbul, Reykjavik, Buenos Aires, Bogotá and Hong Kong.

Sónar Barcelona remains the most important of the Sónar events. It typically takes place in mid June over four days and is divided into Sónar by Day, Sónar by Night and Sónar+D, Sónar's professional event.

Sónar+D and Sónar by Day take place in the Fira Montjuïc, located by Barcelona's huge Plaça d'Espanya. Sónar+D, a collection of talks, panels, networking events, product demonstrations and exhibitions, typically opens on Wednesday, the day before Sónar by Day. It requires a special pass and is aimed at music industry professionals. Sónar by Day, which takes place on the afternoon and evening of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, plays host to a more experimental line up of DJs and electronic music acts over five stages.

Sónar by Night takes place just outside of Barcelona, in the Fira Gran Via L'Hospitalet. Open from 9pm to around 7am on Friday and Saturday nights, it has more of a party atmosphere than the experimental Sónar by Day and attracts its own distinctive crowd, many of them local. The line up tends to reflect this, favouring big international DJs and electronic acts (think Laurent Garnier, Richie Hawtin etc.)

Lineup

Sónar's line up could perhaps best be described as the biggest and best of electronic music in a world where EDM never saw the light of day. While Skrillex did play Sónar in 2015 and 2013, the event largely ignores crowd-pleasing EDM names, relying instead on the legendary electronic acts likes Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Gorillaz, Thom Yorke and LCD Soundsystem. Recent years have seen Sónar increasingly book UK grime MCs and the SonarXS stage relies heavily on local trap acts.

Vibe

Sónar by Day has an adventurous if relaxed international crowd, happy to take in some avant-garde sounds on a sunny Barcelona afternoon, before dancing the early evening away to energetic (rather than pounding) four four beats. It is a friendly, fashionable crowd that knows a lot about music.

The Sónar by Night crowd tends to be more local and party hungry. While the Fira Gran Via is huge, the most popular stages can get rammed, leading to the occasional moment of ill humour. The huge crowd means that some musical subtleties can get lost, with Thom Yorke's 2018 headlining set proving too downbeat for the late-night crowd.

Stages and other entertainment

Sonar by Day

Sónar by Day takes place in Fira Montjuic, an urban event space and venue situated by the Plaça d'Espanya. It hosts four indoor venues - SonarHall, SonarDôme, SonarXS and the seated SonarComplex - plus the outdoor SonarVillage stage. In 2018 and 2014 the Despacio sound system also created a club space within the Fira Montjuïc for their exclusive use. As well as the musical line up, Sónar by Day typically plays host to pieces of digital art and interactive content, designed to showcase the cross over between music and technology. VIP ticket holders can also - for a price - enjoy meals cooked by renowned international chefs.

Sonar by Night

Sonar by Night hosts Sónar's larger shows. It takes at the eye-catching Fira Gran Via de L'Hospitalet, located, as the name suggests, in easily accessible neighbouring city of Hospitalet. Areas include the SonarPub, SonarLab, SonarClub and SonarCar, the latter typically hosting one DJ all night.

Off Sonar Parties

During the four days of Sónar, Barcelona is transformed into a city that is full of electronic music parties, many of which are (unofficially) branded "Off Sónar" and have nothing to do with Sónar itself. The Poble Espanyol, in particular, has become an important venue for Off Sónar parties, playing host to DJ line ups that challenge Sónar's own in terms of popularity, if not adventurousness. Many party goers come to Barcelona during Sónar week just to go to these parties, without even checking the Sónar line up.

Tickets

  • SonarPass Earlybird Tickets. Pass includes access to Sónar Day, Sónar by Night and a selection of activities at Sónar+D
  • SonarPass Ticket. Pass includes access to Sónar Day, Sónar by Night and a selection of activities at Sónar+D
  • 2-Night Ticket.
  • Sónar by Day. Includes 1 Day entrance to Sónar by Day activities at Fira Montjuïc. Times: Thursday from 12 noon to 11pm. Friday and Saturday from 12 noon to 11pm
  • Sónar by Night Ticket. Includes 1 night entrance to Sónar by Night concerts at Fira Gran Via L'Hospitalet. Times: Doors at 9pm, concerts start at 9:30pm
  • Premium Day Pass Ticket. Includes access to Sonar Day, Sonar+D and VIP bar/areas and more
  • Premium Day & Night Pass Ticket. Includes access to Sonar by Day & Night, VIP bar/areas, free bus and exclusive access to the Área Pro in the SonarClub stage and more.
  • Sonar Pack Ticket. Includes Sonar Pass and Sonar VIP.

Tickets can be purchased from Sonar Tickets, Ticketmaster, Ticketweb, FNAC France, FNAC Switzerland and FNAC Belgium. Single Day/Night tickets can only be bought from Sonar Tickets and Ticketmaster. Premium Passes can only be bought from Sonar Tickets.

VIP

The SonarPass VIP includes:

  • Exclusive access to the Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night Venues
  • Luxury menu options by three Michelin starred chefs in the VIP Area Restaurant of Sónar by Day
  • Access to the Sónar by Day VIP Area
  • Access to the Sónar by Night VIP Areas
  • Special view of shows in the SonarClub and SonarPub VIP areas, plus to a walkway linking both
  • Free bus from Sónar by Day to Sónar by Night
  • Free bus from Sónar by Night to Pl. Espanya and Pl. Catalunya
  • Exclusive bar and restaurant services in both venues
  • Free cloakrooms
  • Free wifi access in the VIP areas

Premium Day Accreditation Ticket includes:

  • Access to activities exclusive to Sónar+D
  • Access to concerts at Sónar by Day
  • Online check-in system to avoid long lines
  • Exclusive access to move comfortably throughout the venue, Fira Montjuïc
  • Exclusive access to VIP area/VIP bar
  • Access to networking events with profiled businesses, developing projects and participating companies
  • Free Wifi

Premium Day & Night Accreditation Ticket offers all the advantages of the Accreditation by Day in addition to:

  • Access to concerts at Sónar by Night
  • Exclusive access to the free bus to Sónar by Night
  • Exclusive access to Área Pro in the SonarClub stage at Sónar by Night with an insider view of the shows, plus a walkway linking the Pro de SonarClub and SonarPub areas

Children

While you do see families at Sónar by Day, the event isn't particularly child friendly, with electronic music acts and performances mainly suited towards adults. However children are allowed access to Sonar by Day provided they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and have completed a ‘letter of authorization and liability for admittance of minors' found on Sónar's website. Children under 7 can be admitted to Sónar by Day for free. 16-17 year olds are allowed access to Sónar by Night but are prohibited from consuming alcohol and tobacco.

Disability Access

Disability access is available at the Sonar Festival entrances and throughout the venues of both Sonar by Day and Sonar by Night. However there are no suitable areas directly next to the stage. The Sonar website suggests contacting them on email if you have any specific needs or need more information.

Weather

Barcelona weather is generally pleasant in the early summer months, with an average temperature of 25oC / 77F and 9.5 hours of sunshine daily. Temperatures at Sónar by Day can get slightly uncomfortable, although there are two giant shaded areas by the SonarVillage stage. Sun cream, sun glasses and hats are recommended, although there is the occasional possibility of rain and even storms, something many foreign visitors are ill prepared for..

Location

Barcelona is on the North Eastern coast of Spain in the Catalonia region. Sónar is located in two separate locations. Sónar by Day takes place in central Barcelona at the Fira Montjuïc, an exhibition space that regularly hosts international social and cultural events. The venue is easily accessible from the airport and is well connected to the public transport network.

Sónar by Night takes place in L'Hospitalet, a neighbouring city that joins onto Barcelona, at the Fira Gran Via de L'Hospitalet. The Fira is one of the largest and most modern venues in Europe, designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito, winner of the Pritzker prize. It is easily accessible from central Barcelona and well connected to the public transport network.

Local Information

Barcelona is a vibrant, modern Mediterranean city dotted with colourful buildings and urban culture. Gaudi’s iconic architecture, including the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló, are must sees, while the city also has an impressive range of art galleries. The Barceloneta beach is about 20 minutes’ walk from La Rambla (itself a tourist trap that is best avoided) and is beautifully scattered with random pieces of art and sculpture glistening in the Spanish sun. It can get busy, though, and you may be better off at some of the city's other beaches, such as Bogatell and Nova Icaria, situated further north. The city's Gothic Quarter is well worth a visit on foot and Barcelona is well sticked with restaurants, bars and clubs. Popular nightlife districts include El Born and Gràcia.

Barcelona basics

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and Catalan is the main language, although most of the city’s inhabitants speak Spanish and English. The currency is the Euro and electricity supply is 220 volts with 2 pin wall sockets. Barcelona is generally a safe city although, as with most large cities, pickpocketing and bag snatching can be a problem, particularly in overly crowded, tourist areas.

Politics

Images of police charging peaceful voters at the Catalan Independence Referendum on October 1 2017 travelled around the world, creating unease among many festival goers as to whether Barcelona would be safe to visit, a situation hardly helped when the Catalan government unilaterally declared independence from Spain a few weeks later.

Since then, the situation has calmed down greatly. Many leading Catalan politicians remain either in jail, awaiting trial, or in exile and there is a great deal of lingering bad feeling. However, new governments in both Catalonia and Spain and the end of a period of direct rule from Madrid have helped to de-escalate the situation, without coming close to resolving it.

Visitors to Barcelona will notice the presence of yellow ribbons (a symbol worn in support of jailed Catalan politicians), the official Catalan flag of red and yellow bars and the estelada a flag flown by supporters of Catalan independence. The Spanish flag - which used to be fairly rare in Catalonia - is also more in evidence, with many supporters of Spanish unity making their voices heard.

While the situation remains very much up in the air, the chances of tourists being caught up in any problems due to the political situation are incredibly rare. Most locals are willing to talk about the situation with foreigners if it comes up in conversation. But you should be wary of drawing conclusions: support for Catalan independence runs at around 50%, which means many Catalans are in favour of remaining part of Spain.

Travel

BARCELONA

  • By Plane: Barcelona Airport (BCN) for international and domestic flights is very close to both of Sonar’s locations, Montjuïc and Gran Via. Both venues are easily accessible from the airport with taxi and shuttle links. Public transport links from the airport to Barcelona city centre are plentiful.

  • Taxis: Uber returned to Barcelona in early 2018 although waiting times can vary. There are far fewer Uber cars in Barcelona than cities like London or New York. Another option in Barcelona is Cabify, a similar service to Uber but cheaper and quicker. The standard city taxies are, on the whole, fairly cheap.

Travelling to Sonar By Day

Sónar by Day is in a central Barcelona location is easily accessible by all transport routes.

  • Airport bus: Direct connection to the venue (15km distance)
  • Metro: Destination stop: Espanya – take the Green (L3) or Red (L1) lines
  • Train: Destination stop: Espanya - Line L8 (Molí Nou-Ciutat Coorperativa), Line S33 (Can Ros), Line S4 (Olesa de Montserrat), Line S8 (Martorell), Line R5, R50 (Manresa), Line R6, R60 (Igualada)
  • Bus: TMB Lines: D20, H12, H16, V7, 13, 23, 27, 37, 46, 50, 65, 79, 91, 109, 150 and 165
  • Car: Connected by roads: AP-7, AP-2, A-2, C-16, C-58, C-31, C-32, C-33 Parking is available at: Avinguda Mistral 99, Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina 16, C/ Entença 61, Avinguda Rius i Taulet, 4-12
  • Taxi: Taxi firms include: Book Taxi BCN: (+34) 936 936 936 & Join Up Taxi: (+34) 932 250 000

More detailed information on all transport options and routes to the festival can be found on Sonar's website.

Travelling to Sonar By Night

It is slightly trickier to get to the Sonar by Night location, please follow the below advice on the best transport routes:

  • SonarBus: The Sonarbus line 1 is a shuttle bus that takes you from Sónar by Day (Av. Rius i Taulet) to Sónar by Night, running Friday and Saturday from 8.30pm to 11pm. Line 2 is an uninterrupted bus service from Plaça de les Drassanes in the city centre and runs Friday and Saturday from 8:30pm to 8am.
  • Train: Destination stop: Europa/Fira. Can be reached via all trains leaving the FGC station located at the Espanya metro station. Journey time is only 5 minutes and trains run four times an hour. Last train from Espanya station is 2.00am and first train from Europa/Fira is 5.54am.
  • Day & Night Bus: H12, V3, 9, 37, 46, 65, 79, 109, 125, N1, N15, N16 and N17
  • Car: The Gran Via venue is located in a new business development area, connected to the main motorways and roads to Barcelona: AP-7, AP-2, A-2, C-16, C-58, C-31, C-32, C-33. Please note parking is not available at the Sonar by Night venue.
  • Taxi: 15-20 Minute journey from the city centre. Taxis will be in high demand over the festival period, especially at night, after midnight fares can soar to €60. Only use taxis as a last resort. Taxi firms include: Book Taxi BCN: (+34) 936 936 936 & Join Up Taxi: (+34) 932 250 000

More detailed information on all transport options and routes to the festival can be found on Sonar's website.

Local Accommodation

Barcelona has a vast range of tourist accommodation, to fit every shape, size and budget. Aparthotels are ideal for large groups of friends and hostels offer great value for money. Airbnb is also a very popular option. Over the festival period accommodation can get booked up fast, ensure you have somewhere to stay before you arrive to avoid disappointment.

What to wear

Encapsulating the festival’s cutting edge and forward-thinking ethos, the style at Sónar is cool, edgy and modern. Unlike field/camping-based music festivals, Sónar’s attendees are lucky enough to have a shower and electricity to return to each night, resulting in a more trend-led, urban look compared to the usual carefree festival style.

Sónar’s party people are likely to hit the city’s beaches, bars, terraces, art spaces and clubs in-between festival activities. Consequently all these varied urban hot-spots need to be considered when planning your outfit. Stash a cardigan or loose shirt to throw over your outfit when heading into the city for Off Sónar activities; as with most major cities, it’s not considered appropriate to walk around flaunting bikini straps or super short skirts. Keep a pair of flip-flops handy in your bag in case you spontaneously hit a beach after-party. Temperatures are likely to be high, although it is probably worth keeping one item of clothing on hand in case it should rain.

Camping

No camping is available at Sónar Festival, however there are many hostels in Barcelona that offer cheap accommodation and a large number of Airbnb apartments.

Site Information

SonarCashless is the only method of payment accepted at the festival. Festival goes must top up their wristbands using card or cash and use it to pay at Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night. The Cashless process generally works very well and there are few queues.

Sónar by Day (Montjuïc)

  • Food & drink are available to buy (bringing your own is prohibited)
  • Tobacco is NOT available to purchase, bring your own
  • Free WIFI at the SonarVillage area
  • Smoking is allowed in uncovered areas but not indoors
  • Enter and leave the festival as many times as you wish
  • Parking is available

Sonar by Night (Gran Via)

  • ATMs NOT available
  • Food & drink are available to buy (bringing your own is prohibited)
  • Tobacco is NOT available to purchase, bring your own
  • Smoking is allowed in uncovered areas but not indoors
  • One-time entry allowed only, you cannot leave the festival if you want to return
  • No Parking

Food and drink

BARCELONA:

The food and drink options at Sónar are generally pretty impressive (especially for VIP ticket holders). However, Barcelona's enviable reputation as a gastronomic centre means eating out in the city is recommended. Restaurants like Disfrutar and Tickets will serve incredible gastronomic experiences at high prices, although the general standard of food in the city's restaurants and bars is high.

Sónar by Day venue is within easy access of the city’s countless eateries and you can exit and return to the festival site as often as you like. However, the Sonar by Night venue in L'Hospitalet is not so well served and does not allow re-entry, so it is advisable to eat before you head towards the night-time festival.

Perform at the festival

You must be an electronic act to perform at Sonar Festival. Contact Sonar on email between October and February with demos to be considered.

Drugs and security

On Sónar’s official website it states that any person attending the festival may be ejected without any entitlement to a refund in the event that they are found carrying or consuming drugs.

In reality, drugs are in evidence at the festival, with many festival goers smoking cannabis, taking cocaine, ecstasy pills or MDMA. In recent years third-party stands have also offered drug testing at Sonar, as well as advice on the consumption of drugs and alcohol.

Cannabis

Visitors to Barcelona over the last few years will doubtlessly have noticed the growth of cannabis clubs in the city, where members can legally buy and consume cannabis. It is important to note that these clubs are very strictly members only and often require some kind of Spanish ID to join. Some clubs will accept foreign members but anyone who wants to take advantage should contact the club in question in advance, rather than just turning up on the day. Despite the presence of these clubs, people should be wary about smoking cannabis in the streets.

Trivia

126,000 attendees from 119 countries attended Sónar 2018. For one year only, Sónar 2019 will take place one month later, on July 18, 19 and 20. The following year Sónar 2020 will return to its usual dates, June 18, 19 and 20. 

Past lineups

2018 + Barcelona: Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem, Thom Yorke.

2017 + Barcelona: Björk (DJ set), Justice, Eric Prydz

2016 + Barcelona: Jean-Michel Jarre, New Order, Fatboy Slim

2015 + Barcelona: The Chemical Brothers, Skrillex, Duran Duran

2014 + Barcelona: Massive Attack, Chic Featuring Nile Rodgers, Rudimental. +Reykjavik: Skrillex, Jamie XX, SBTRKT and many more +Cape Town: Pet Shop Boys, Too Many DJs, The Bloody Beetroots.

2013 + Barcelona: Kraftwerk (3D show), Pet Shop Boys, Skrillex. +São Paulo: Cancelled +Reykjavik: James Blake, Simian Mobile Disco, Trentemoller. +Tokyo-Osaka: Karl Hyde, LFO, Alec Empire and many more

2012

  • Barcelona: The Roots, Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, Hot Chip and many more.
  • Cape Town "A Taste Of Sonar": Modeselektor, Byetone, Brodinski and many more.
  • Tokyo: Squarepusher, The Cinematic Orhestra, Clark, Vincent Gallo and many more.
  • Sao Paulo: Bjork, Justice, Alva & Ryuichi Sakamoto, James Blake and many more.

2011

The 2011 programmes included Underworld, M.I.A., Aphex Twin, Magnetic Man, Die Antwoord, The Human League, Dizzee Rascal, Cut Copy, James Murphy, Janelle Monáe, Paul Kalkbrenner, Chris Cunningham, Boys Noize, Four Tet, Buraka Som Sistema, Katy B and Steve Aoki.