Muse headlined at the Andalucía Big Festival this summer. / HUGO CORTÉS

Sun, sea and music, music, music...

This summer the Costa del Sol has enjoyed events presenting alternative rock, pop, blues, jazz, urban rhythms and indie music featuring young stars of today, along with some of the pioneers of the modern music scene


The Costa del Sol has long been favoured for its gastronomy and wines, world-class golf courses and museums of international renown, and now it is making its mark as a top music festival destination.

This summer, the province has enjoyed events presenting alternative rock, pop, blues, jazz, urban rhythms and indie music featuring the young stars of today, along with some of the pioneers of the modern music scene, making it a benchmark for cultural and musical activities.

The Costa has exploded onto the international music festival circuit this year with three large-scale events that have debuted in the capital, Mijas and Torremolinos, adding to the already consolidated programme of Starlite Marbella, Marenostrum Fuengirola, Rockin’ Race (Torremolinos), the Cueva de Nerja Festival and the Weekend Beach Torre del Mar festival, among others.

The five big summer events (Starlite, Marenostrum, Weekend Beach, Cala Mijas and Andalucía Big) attracted hundreds of thousands of people, consolidating the province as one of the top European destinations for music-seeking tourists, while also offering locals the chance to see some of the most influential bands and performers on their own doorstep.

The successful inaugural edition of the three-day Andalucía Big Festival organised by the regional tourist board took place in the three-stage arena located in the fairground in Malaga in September. The new music event lived up to all its expectations and attracted more than 100,000 music lovers.

Muse, Jamiroquia, C. Tangana, Stereophonics, Franz Ferdinand and Suede headlined the festival, while supporting bands included Glass Animals, Years & Years, Paolo Nutini and Lucy Dacus.

The organisers have already announced that the festival is scheduled to take place again in September 2023, so it looks as though this innovative event will be here to stay.

Cala Mijas

Mijas town hall announced that the first edition of the Cala Mijas Festival also exceeded all expectations, positioning Mijas as a reference within the circuit of festivals at an international level and as a leader on the Costa del Sol.

The three-day musical extravaganza held in the purposely erected Sonora venue - as well as the series of free concerts staged on the beach on the same days as the rest of the main programme - attracted more than 107,000 attendees of more than 50 nationalities.

The festival featured hip-hop, electronic, pop and rock music. The main crowd-pullers were The Arctic Monkeys, Nick Cave and Liam Gallagher, although organisers had secured the performance of other celebrated bands and musicians such as Kraftwerk, James Blake, and The Chemical Brothers.

However, the success was not limited to the stars of the stage, but to the whole experience. As with the Andalucía Big festival, the event was well organised with high levels of staffing, security and associated services.

With the intention of surpassing the experience of its first edition, organisers have recently announced that the second edition of the festival will take place between 31 August and 2 September 2023.

The two-day Puro Latino de Torremolinos festival made its debut in July and was quickly crowned as the most important reggaetón, trap and international Latin music gathering in southern Europe.

The festival was headlined by Daddy Yankee, the celebrated Puerto Rican rapper, composer and actor known as the King of Reggaetón by music critics and fans alike.

Building a reputation

However, for several years Malaga province has been building a reputation as a serious music festival location with large-scale music festivals such as Starlite Marbella, a three-month cycle of concerts held in the Cantera de Nagüeles quarry during the height of the summer.

This festival, which has just celebrated its tenth year, is now established as one of the important annual social and entertainment events in Spain.

In 2012 the quarry site was cleaned up and a new auditorium constructed for the inaugural Starlite Festival. Since then, the event has gained momentum for the quality and variety of music on offer, attracting upwards of 250,000 people each year.

Over the years, Enrique Iglesias, Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli, Ricky Martin, Tom Jones, Alejandro Sanz, The Beach Boys, Plácido Domingo and Anastacia have all performed at the quarry.

This year’s edition was the biggest so far, presenting 88 concerts and attracting 362,000 visitors, 80,000 more than in 2019. Plans have already been put into motion for next year’s event.

Spectacular settings

Another of the anticipated series of concerts is the Marenostrum Fuengirola, a festival held in a most spectacular setting due to its proximity to the sea and the view of the Sohail Castle.

Like Starlite, this coveted show attracts top national and international artists with a series of concerts offering everything from heavy metal, rock and pop, to flamenco, jazz, classical and hip-hop. These have included Sting, Bob Dylan, Santana, Simply Red, Jennifer Lopez, Alejandro Sanz, José Mercé and Ara Malikian,to name just a few.

Since its inception in 2016, the festival has introduced a series of environmental sustainability policies, including making the enclosure free of single-use plastics, which is one of the SDGs of the town hall.

This year’s festival, which returned to its normal format after the difficulties caused by the pandemic, presented more than 60 concerts between May and September, which were attended by thousands of music lovers from all over Andalucía.

Retro extravaganza

The Costa del Sol is also the location for two of the biggest rock and roll and American-roots music festivals that are staged during the autumn and winter months.

Torremolinos is the destination for lovers of good old-fashioned rock and roll during the first weekend of February, when the town hosts the Rockin’ Race Jubilee.

The four-day retro extravaganza is the most important American-roots music festival in Europe. Nominated ‘best music festival’ by the Ameripolitan Music Awards in Memphis, the event presents live performances by some of the genres most celebrated artists. The festival, which offers around 30 different concerts, has become popular over the years because it presents musicians from all over Europe, the USA and Latin America.

The gathering focuses on rock ‘n’ roll, swing, rockabilly and beat music, and concerts are held in various locations in the town.

Along with the music, the great thing about this festival is the fact that Torremolinos is thrust back to the 1950s, as rock and roll fans dressed in retro-style clothing and with quirky hairdos take over the town.

Blues at Moonlight in Benalmádena, held in November, is an international rockabilly and American-roots music gathering that has become one of the most prestigious events of its kind in Spain.

Along with these, another well-attended festival is the Weekend Beach Festival in Torre del Mar, which, this year, attracted 135,000 people who came to enjoy more than 80 rock, pop, reggae and indie concerts.