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FIB - Festival Internacional de Benicassim

fibHow civilised can a festival be? Well, if you are prepared to pay for a hotel during FIB it can be deliciously so. This established event runs each year in the middle of July in the Spanish town of Benicassim. Fill your day with tapas and cañas, the beach and siestas. By night, eat surrounded by the true Spanish buzz of the old town, and for desert see big name bands and party til dawn within the happy hype of the festival. Even the toilets are manageable, with a girl handing out loo paper. A manageable stroll then takes you back to air-conditioning and a comfy mattress to sleep it off. I've seen the obscene taxi queues at dawn - try to stay within walking distance.

For those on a budget, there is camping included in your festival ticket.  But with temperatures tipping over 30 degrees and no shade I would think this through. Although described as 'camping by the sea' its a good walk to get there. Plots are on rocky, ant-hill ridden, unforgiving ground and within earshot of many a snorer (at best).  There is little sleep to be had there.

fibsleepAnother option is to pay around €80 to stay in a shaded camp with a better standard of facilities.  This is probably money well spent, but still don't forget to bring your ear-plugs. A techno club close by dominates until 7am.

It is, therefore, not surprising that random spots of shade throughout Benicassim will be filled with bodies catching 40 winks. Even at the festival, with drum rolls and guitar gymnastics and people everywhere, you will see those unable to resist getting their heads down in the sparce grass for a nap.

Is the hotel idea sounding more appealing by the minute?

FIB is fundamentally a rock festival with an impressive line-up - with some current pop thrown in including extra guitar bursts.  This year there was The Stone Roses, New Order, Bob Dylan, The Maccabees, Ed Sheeran and David Guetta to name a few.  Unfortunately Florence and the Machine and Bat for Lashes pulled out at the last minute leaving some noticeable holes on Thursday night. Much as the organisation and atmosphere were hard to beat for me, the music was not from my usual playlist. But we got into the swing of things and we felt the full joy with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Chase and Status and Maverick Sabre which were personal highs.

fiboutfitsIt is not a child-friendly festival - I only saw a handful of kids throughout the whole thing. The bands start performing around 7pm, but the place only really starts filling up past 11, ending with the hardcore DJs at dawn. The crowd are generally in their 20s, friendly and out there whilst rarely appearing to be overly messed up.  Although a few make the effort to stand out with themed outfits, most of the girls seemed to be wearing a uniform of too-short shorts and flower head-bands. Predominate are the Brits (about 12000 of them) and Spanish with a smattering of other European nationalities. The British are more then ever willing to travel a bit further afield to get their festival highs in the sunshine.

For other festival options throughout Europe, go to Eufest who will smooth the way.

As for accommodation at Benicassim which allows you to make the most of the old town whilst being within walking distance of FIB and the beach I recommend that you stay at the fun and eclectic Hotel Benicassim. (This hotel has unfortunately had to close.)fibhotel

The other thing that I was overwhelmingly impressed by about this event compared to its UK counterparts is the hassle free nature of it.  We drove in on the first day of the festival without hold-ups, parked the car without charge, and could have driven in and out of FIB itself had we felt able.  The town seemed to continue unhindered by the whole process.  This gave us the opportunity to realise what a great holiday destination it would be outside its mid-July moment in the limelight.  If you are looking for a real Spanish beach town with plenty going on I would put Benicassim on your destination list.  Each meal we had gave a positive twist on typical Spanish cuisine (often lacking in the British-frequented tourist towns.) If you don't have the lingo, give it a go and locals will be keen to help you out. The beach was attractive and the sea even more so as temperatures soared.  There is nightlife, lively streets with bars and street dining and passing musicians, plus a waterpark and karting track.  All this around an hour from Valencia.

I like it. I will go again and take the kids. And I hope to get to FIB again too, but most definately without them!