The Best Metropolitan Festivals

By Miles Hardman

When you hear the word ‘festival’ the first things you think of are sodden wellies, swamp-like fields and the arduousness of tent pitching, right? Well if you’re looking for a festival experience within a mile of a McDonald’s restaurant, or just want to be able to collapse onto a hotel bed rather than a rocky tent floor, then some of these metropolitan festivals might be for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll even have time to go and check out the local culture.

Pic: Jason Paris

                Primavera Sound

Situated a three hour coastal drive away from its Spanish festival cousin Benicàssim, Primavera Sound boasts an incredible line up of acts each year on Barcelona’s exotic beach front. The festival’s site, Parc del Fòrum, is located in the eastern Sant Martí district of the city. As the second most populated district of Barcelona, you won’t have much trouble finding something to do in your spare time here.

The site offers a range of services, from tapas bars and fast food restaurants to a selection of stages housing a vast array of acts. Most credible, though, is Primavera’s exclusive line up; in 2013 the likes of Blur, Crystal Castles, Hot Chip and James Blake all played across the weekend, making Primavera unique. Already announced for 2014 are the Pixies and Arcade Fire who, after their latest album Reflektor earlier this year, should be a reason for anyone to get to Barcelona next summer.

Of course, being a metropolitan festival, finding food and a place to stay shouldn’t be a hassle in Barcelona’s business district, and though the festival offers no kind of camping opportunities, hotels are in abundance nearby.

Pic: David Berkpwitz


When it comes to the future of music, no festival comes close to being as intelligible as Austin, Texas’ own South By South West music convention. Giving over 2000 signed and unsigned artists a stage to showcase their talents to panels and conference attendees, this American ‘festival’ isn’t your usual muddy day out. It is, though, a great place to discover some of the shining stars of the industry and perhaps even start your own network of contacts in the business.

And it’s not just music that SXSW tends to; film, interactive technologies and comedy also have a place at the event. In fact, since its inception in 1987, various film and hi-tech companies have got involved with the festival as Austin has become more diversified as a city, meaning that it’s now as vibrant a place as ever thanks to their support.

SXSW 2014 is set to take place in March (11-16th) and would make for an exciting addition to the bucket lists of those who are all about finding new talents.

Berto Garcia

Priding itself on various ‘best metropolitan festival’ accolades and focusing on bringing affordable live music to the masses, London’s Camden Crawl is one of the most exciting metropolitan festivals in arguably the coolest city in the world.

As well as having hosted big name acts across Camden’s variety of venues, like Glasvegas, The Cribs and The Sopranos theme tune makers Alabama 3, this metropolitan festival, much like SXSW, lets acts sign themselves up for inclusion on the band listings.

Also on the bill are comedy showcases, performing arts & exhibitions, and other more interactive activities to bide the time. What’s more, the centre of London is just a few tube stops away, so accommodation and other services are similarly in abundance. If you live in the UK and you don’t want to travel abroad, the Camden Crawl is undoubtedly the choice metropolitan festival for you.


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