One of the concerts at the Cala Mijas festival this summer. Hugo Cortés
Andalucía, a global stage for major music and sports events

Andalucía, a global stage for major music and sports events

The region is selected time and time again to host festivals and championships, from the Latin Grammy Awards to the Solheim Cup

SUR in English


Monday, 18 December 2023, 09:32


Andalucía has been proving recently that it is more than just a holiday destination for those looking for beautiful beaches, rolling mountains and breathtaking views and of course sunshine. What’s more its attraction goes further than its monuments, museums and galleries and exciting culinary scene. Andalucía attracts big name musicians, hosts huge events and festivals and lands major sporting deals.

This year’s highlight on the music front for Seville comes this autumn, when the city will be the first venue to host a Grammy Award ceremony outside the US. The 2023 Latin Grammys, an event that carries enormous prestige with large television audiences, will be hosted in the Andalusian city this November. In addition to the awards ceremony, there will be a week-long festival of top Latin music featuring big name artists. The Latin Grammys are the version of the main Grammy Awards for songs in Spanish and Portuguese and have been running since 2000. More than 5.3 million people tuned in to watch last year’s ceremony.

Still on the music scene, the region hosts several summer festivals. Among the most successful and international is Cala Mijas, which goes into its third year in 2024 and this year attracted names such as The Strokes, Florence + the Machine and Arcade Fire.


The region is also finding a place on the itinerary for top business congresses and events. On a global level bigwigs from different sectors are eyeing up Andalucía, and especially Malaga, as a business opportunity and the perfect destination for their international conference, festival, awards ceremony or expo. Malaga’s street-art-cloaked lanes of the edgy Soho district and the cobbled streets of the old quarter have set the scene for a string of major events this year, consolidating the city’s position as a top location.

This year Malaga entered the top 100 for international conference destinations in the annual rankings released by the ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), which represents the world’s leading providers in organising professional events. The city has climbed 59 places since 2021, and has moved up considerably since 2018 when it occupied the 218th position. Now, it is placed as the 64th city in the European ranking and the fifth in Spain.

The Costa del Sol set a sunny scene this year for an international conference on travel into outer-space. NASA officials landed in Marbella for the annual Sutus event, which unveiled exciting details about projects aiming to make sustainable and safe journeys into space from 2025 onwards, with zero-emission commercial flights.

International bids

Malaga came very close to being selected to host the international exhibition Expo 2027. The city earned itself a place among the final candidates but it just lost out, coming a close second in votes at a ceremony this year.

All eyes turn now to Andalucía’s next pending bid, to host another major event: EuroPride 2027. If successful, the important LGBT festival will be held in Torremolinos, what used to be a poor fishing village that is fast-becoming a priority location for the gay community in Europe and the world.

Sport showcase

Malaga and Andalucía’s surge into the globe’s most sought-after destinations for tourism has not gone unnoticed in the world of sport. The region has played host to some of the biggest events on the sporting calendar this year, further showcasing what the location has to offer all over the globe. And the future looks bright, following Spain, Portugal and Morocco’s successful joint bid to host the 2030 men’s football Fifa World Cup, where Malaga city is now in the running to become one of the 14 hosts for the most important tournament in the sport.

Solheim Cup

Golf is a staple among the many activities available on offer in Andalucía and players often go out of their way to make the journey to Europe’s best location to play the sport. The Costa del Sol hosted one of the most prestigious international women’s golf tournaments for the first time this year. Some of the world’s best golfers competed on the green at Finca Cortesin in Casares for the 2023 Solheim Cup in September.

Spectators at the Solheim Cup in Casares in September.
Spectators at the Solheim Cup in Casares in September. Josele

More than 80,000 tickets were sold for the tournament, which, like the men’s Ryder Cup (itself held on the Costa del Sol in 1997), pits a star-studded European team against a US team. It attracted a global audience of 461 million people and generated about 500 million euros. More than 13,000 rooms in 75 hotels along the coast were booked, with the support of 20 official tour operators, making it a huge affair.

Davis Cup returns

Tennis has always been a huge sport in Spain, but the major tour tournaments have always been claimed by Barcelona and Madrid; however that changed in 2022 when the Davis Cup tennis championships returned to Malaga for the first time since 2003. Malaga hosted the tournament, dubbed the world cup of tennis, this November at the city’s Martin Carpena sports arena.

But the tennis action doesn’t end there, the Davis Cup equivalent but on the women’s side, the Billie Jean King Cup, was hosted in Seville for the first time this year. Formerly known as the Federation Cup, the biggest national team tournament in women’s tennis was staged in the Andalusian capital from 7-12 November, and big names took to the court.

Malaga province is fresh off hosting the European Cricket championships (ECC). Dubbed the biggest cricket tournament in the continent, 31 teams started competing at Cártama Oval in Malaga province in September. It is the third year in a row the province has hosted the championships.

Spain’s SailGP sparked global interest in Cadiz in October.
Spain’s SailGP sparked global interest in Cadiz in October. A.V.

Other international competitions that put Andalucía in the spotlight on a global scale include the Spain Sail Grand Prix, held in Cadiz in October, and the motorcyling MotoGP, which takes place every year at the track in Jerez de la Frontera.

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