Summer at Starlite Festival Marbella – one of the best boutique festivals in Europe

We remember when Starlite started out many years ago, as this new concept of a music festival up in the mountains at a venue most people only knew from the 70s – so not us then! We were blown away by the location of the Auditorio de Nagüeles, this old quarry, that’s been brought back to life with a huge refurb programme. As any young festival, it struggled to get real superstars to come down in the beginning, starting off with mainly Spanish acts.

Today, Starlite Festival has made its mark good and proper, not just as a musical but also a cultural reference point on the European map of summer festivals! They have grown so much by now, that holidaymakers and regular visitors to the Costa del Sol know, they’ll have a fabulous time when they come to Marbella, as world-class artists and entertainers now flock down to ‘sunny Marbs’ to perform at a boutique festival, that feels more like a giant party than a huge gig.

All three acts featured in this Starlite cover are well-known regulars, as people just love to see them performing live. The mix and variety across the music genres amongst those global superstars, including many great Latino acts, who might make this their only performance in Europe, is hard to match and very impressive indeed! Not many festivals can offer such a varied programme, that is highly entertaining from classical acts like Placido Domingo to Sara Baras (internationally renowned flamenco dancer) to Nicky Jam, Enrique Iglesias & Juan Magán, all of them Latino megastars, to Pet Shop Boys, Anastacia, Sting, Jessie J, Jamie Cullum and Simple Minds, as well as ever loved, die-hard performers like Sir Tom Jones, Iggy Pop and Rod Stewart, plus countless other names, who these days are keen to be part of such an exclusive event.

The British jazz sensation Jamie Cullum likened performing at Starlite to what it must be like playing on the moon a direct reference to the rock surrounding the auditorium. We agree! And it becomes even more surreal, when gigantic DJ acts play the very cool sessions area with its separate stage, which is when the party really starts – if this were a spaceship, we might as well take off from here. There’s always a great atmosphere in the sessions part of the venue, with its countless bars and gastronomic experiences. It’s mega cool to hang out there, whether there’s a concert going or not. So, hit that play button now to find out what this festival is all about and then start planning to come down to Marbella to sample it yourself!


As one of the best boutique festivals in Europe, Starlite Marbella, or Starlite Catalana Occidente, offers two months of the most varied and exciting summer entertainment in live music there is! Every July and August, it is the focal point on the Costa del Sol for outstanding shows and top-class acts to perform in the old quarry, a place that so many of the superstars, who have been part of Starlite over the years, have described as totally unique in the world.

The exclusive feel and private party atmosphere is what performers and spectators alike absolutely love! With the main stage set up around 60 metre high stone walls, which get lit by coloured spotlights, the festival goers immediately feel this intimate atmosphere, that makes every single concert an unforgettable experience. And the fact that the sessions stage in front of the auditorium also hosts its famous DJ nights means that ravers can go clubbing under the open skies – beautiful! With plenty of bars and gastro experiences in the Sessions area, it is just very cool to hang out with your friends up there, even on non-concert nights

Variety is a key word in Starlite’s programming, and it is absolutely true, when we say that ’there’s something for everyone’! From classical Spanish performances in music and dance, to rock and pop, and from electronic dance music to Latino EDM, hip hop and more, it is impossible to not find a show or live gig to your liking. Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo and Il Divo have all graced the stage there, but Elton John, Christian Aguilera, Diana Ross, Maluma, Ricky Martin, David Bisbal, Sting and Luis Fonsi, Alejandro Sanz, Gipsy Kings, Maná, as well as Hardwell and many other top-notch DJs have also been part of incredible line-ups over the years.

If you’re in beautiful Andalucia and happen to be on the Costa del Sol, you simply must go and sample this incredible summer experience. But first, hit that play button to watch our programme and catch the flavour of this hugely eclectic festival, that’s always worth a visit.


Many years ago, three men had a vision: they wanted to convert the quarry above Marbella, with to-die-for views of the Med, to a live music venue. They were Prince Alfonso zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Julio Iglesias and Placido Domingo! They presented their vision and project with an original tenor concert in 1983 – and what a concert that must have been! The rest is history…

Today, La Cantera de Nagüles is home to an absolute jewel of a festival, Starlite Marbella! It is one of the biggest summer attractions on the Costa del Sol for holidaymakers and residents alike, making you feel as if you were ‘on the moon’, as Jamie Cullum described it once (watch our programme about his concert on our Art & Culture channel in the EVENTS – EUROPE section)! The platform, on which the festival gets erected every year anew is surrounded by 60m high natural stone walls, holding an auditorium of about  3500 seats. Apart from only 20 or so rows in the stalls, where you can watch your favourite star at arm’s length, 8-seater ‘Bubble-boxes’ also offer a full VIP experience with waiter service throughout the concert. The podium, or tribune, holds the rest of the seats, arranged in a viewer-friendly way. Sitting in the very last row at the top makes you think, you could be on a roller coaster (so not that great for people with a fear of heights)!

It is also home to the Sessions area, with a further stage for live shows and DJ sets, as well as restaurants, VIP lounges and bars, offering delicious food and drink under the stars. Access to the Sessions space, which is also home to a shopping area, can be obtained separately. All in all, this brilliant festival feels like a mini-planet on its own, and although it has been compared to the Red Rock amphitheatre in Colorado, what the festival organisers are doing to this quarry in the foothills of the Sierras Blanca above Marbella, is something altogether more special due to the design-orientated lifestyle concept that gets rolled out in a different look every year. No wonder, that this place attracts 150.000 music & dance fans, who flock up to the quarry every summer, so don’t miss out #mustgo

Access has been a particular issue that needed solving, and over the years, the organisers have been able to sort this subject out too: apart from VIP-packages, which will drive you straight up to the entrance, the main public is carried up to the quarry by a fleet of buses. These drive frequently and all the time, so you might incur a bit of a queue when making your way up or when leaving. But the waiting lanes move permanently and clear quickly in order to get all festival goers back to the car parks safely and swiftly.


When you think summer, sun, beach and nightlife, Ibiza is certainly not the only place to have a great time during the day and a brilliant night out to boot on top! Here’s your cue: MARBELLA. The glitz & glamour of the 60s has made way for quite a bit of ‘Life on Marbs’, but the fact is, that apart from the Brits, it is still a place visited by a huge number of Spaniards, Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, French and many holidaymakers from the Arab countries, who make their way to the beautiful city at the foot of La Concha (mountain above Marbella) every summer to enjoy life and generally have a brilliant time!

We can talk about sunny Marbs being this highly exclusive spot for the super-rich forever – however, the picturesque nature of the city perched between the Sierra Blanca and the Mediterranean Sea appeals to all sorts of people. Yes, you have Puerto Banús with its luxury yachts and designer shopping, local and international food to-die-for, exclusive living and great hotels, but the charm of the Old Town, with its orange trees and countless tapas bars attracts holidaymakers and sun seekers from all over the world.

With 27km of sandy beaches, famous beach clubs like Ocean Beach, Nikki Beach or Opium Beach Club, the Puente Romano Hotel Resort and Marbella Club Hotel, you can live it large to your heart’s content. Entertainment at night does not fall short either with famous clubs like Olivia Valere and world-class festivals like Starlite. However, daytime fun can be had on the water with a wide range of water sports or on land on one of over 70 top-level golf courses, that gained fame when Sean Connery still lived on the Golden Mile. Not to mention the equestrian sports, as well as hiking and whatever the beautiful Sierra Blanca has to offer, will keep you busy without having to travel far.

Marbella is where old & new glamour exists side by side, and that makes it very special indeed. It’s a real pearl of a place in Andalusia, about half an hour by car from the airport in Málaga and just under an hour by car from Gibraltar. Beautiful towns like Granada, with the Sierras Nevada for skiing, are just over an hour away. If you prefer to head down South, you’ll find Tarifa, Europe’s most Southerly point only just over an hour away. From there, the next stop is the African continent by boat, or drive up the Costa de La Luz along the Atlantic to visit historic cities like Cádiz, Vejer or Puerto Santa Maria in deepest Sherry country.

We think, you might be busy enough to discover all that Marbella has to offer in one trip, but then…there’s always another visit in the offing 🙂

1st Andalucia BIG Festival: awesome music event in Malaga, Costa del Sol/ Spain

Woahhh, this is what Málaga has been waiting for: a festival, that offers international acts in mega-size! Think 3 huge stages, 45.000m2 of artificial grass, bars at every corner, dozens of food trucks offering local cuisine, VIP areas with terraced views, 100.000 festival goers over the three days and a line-up to totally die for – yep, you’re almost there…Málaga itself is the third-most visited touristic hot spot in Spain by now (after Barcelona & Madrid), and is just a brilliant place for a city break. The September sun is still warm and summer certainly hasn’t finished by then. Yet, this festival has catapulted it all up a notch, as you’ll have global superstars coming to town, when you fly down South.

Organised by the lovely people behind the iconic Mad Cool festival in Madrid, this was going to be a huge gig for the city, the Costa del Sol and for Andalucia. We loved the eclectic mix of bands and singers, who made the very first edition of the Andalucia BIG Festival one to remember. Mad Cool’s co-director Javier Arnaiz thinks that Málaga ‘has everything to have a first-class festival’, and so they went to work on a line-up like no other for their first edition.

The first day kicked off with Franz Ferdinand, Suede, Biffy Clyro and Stereophonics headlining. On Friday, 9 Sept, Jamiroquai was headlining, as well as the gorgeous Michael Kiwanuka, the Glass Animals and Paolo Nutini. Claudia Peifer clocked in on Sunday, when Muse, Years & Years, Los Planetas, Nikki Hill and Aurora topped the bill, amongst many others. The sheer size of the place was incredible – people were hanging out everywhere, completely relaxed, everything was easy, everyone was welcoming. So watch our cover of the very first edition NOW, when Norwegian pop princess Aurora delighted the crowd, Nikki Hill delivered solid rock and R’n’B, and Years & Years brought London’s Camden Town to Málaga. What a glorious 3 days it was!


So, if Mad Cool co-director Javier Arnaiz thinks, that Málaga has what it takes to stage a music festival of the tallest order, you better listen up! Covering the city’s Recinto Ferial with 45.000m2 of artificial grass is inspired, as making over 100.000 festival goers feel welcome to relax and chill out just about anywhere in the festival area is no mean feat. Sponsored by the Junta de Andalucia to the tune of 3.5 Million Euros (of which 80% came from the European Feder funds), it was clear the Andalucia BIG Festival as a music event HAS to be a success.

And no doubt, it was! With a world-class line-up including Franz Ferdinand, Stereophonics, Biffy Clyro, Jamiroquai, Michale Kiwanuka, the Glass Animals, Paolo Nutini, Muse, Years & Years, Los Planetas, Aurora, Nikki Hill and so many more artists on stage, there was always something going on to guarantee you to have a good time. Food and other amenities were brilliantly carried out, with a water fountain that had hardly any queues (another great thing)! Food stalls and trucks offered great nosh from Thai to veggie & vegan, to Indian and South American/Latin cuisine (Mexico, Venezuela & Cuba), not forgetting festival favourites like great pizzas. The organisational experience of Mad Cool’s team definitely shone through!

Supposedly Andalucia’s biggest festival to date, they want to make this brand new festival an annual event – yes please, is what we say! At the same time, synergy with the community, sustainability and respect for the environment are high up on the list of priorities. The organisers have a vision of linking people from all over the world through culture and music, wanting to make it such an experience, that it will attract music fans from all over the globe. Featuring genres such as pop, indie, rock, electronic dance music, R’n’B and new trends with emerging talent, they should be well on their way to achieve this!


If you’ve been watching the city of Málaga’s progress during the last few years, you might feel slightly dizzy by now. Steamrollering forward on a cultural and entertainment level, Málaga is the third most visited city in Spain by now, after Barcelona and Madrid! No wonder that the guys behind Mad Cool said ‘yes’ to organising the debut event of the Andalucia BIG Festival! Classic attractions like the Alcazaba Castle, the Picasso Museum & his birthplace, the Encarnación Cathedral, the Thyssen Museum, as well as the Centre Pompidou are all huge cultural references for a visit.

However, the gazillions of tapas bars and little restaurants situated in narrow, cobble-stone alleyways and roads will charm you no end. World-class cuisine and Michelin-starred eateries (Byoko, Vino Mio, La Antxoeta Art Restaurant, Kaleja & Taró) are there to ‘bowl’ you over, whilst theatres like the Teatro Cervantes will quench your thirst for experiencing and ‘feeling’ not just Spanish culture and dance, but offer shows by global stars in performance arts and music too. Street art, murals and sculptures also make the capital of Andalucia such an exciting experience, whilst fairs and fiestas here are legendary, so they definitely know how to party and be merry.

With many European destinations just a couple or three ours flight time away, Málaga is the ideal city break offering on average over 300 days of sunshine a year. All major European airlines fly to Málaga airport (Air France, Air Lingus, British Airways, KLM, Scandinavian Airlines, Air Europa, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa, ITA Airways, Iberia, Swiss & TAP Air Portugal), so there are no excuses. And apart from the city’s fabulous sights and hugely attractive calendar, there’s also 14km of coastline, which is home to 16 beaches…so don’t forget to pack your swimming trunks! Heading the Costa del Sol, you’ll find another 150km of beaches when you head South, peppered with great holiday destinations such as Fuengirola, Mijas, Benalmadena, Marbella, Estepona, Sotogrande, all the way past Gibraltar to Tarifa.

Being a cool 2800 years old, Málaga is one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe. Founded at around 770 BC by the Phoenicians, they already knew then that this was a great place to go, so if you haven’t been yet, start planning for your ultimate Andalusian holiday experience pronto!