20 Years of Primavera Sound: The Story So Far

20 Years of Primavera Sound: The Story So Far

Primavera Sound Barcelona 2020

Few festivals command as much respect on a global scale as Primavera Sound. The Barcelona festival – which celebrates a 20th anniversary edition this summer – is now undeniably one of the world's finest, but it hasn't always been the eclectic and expansive giant that it is today. Here's how it got there.

2001 - A Modest Debut

Primavera Sound had existed as a concept during the 1990s in Barcelona, as a series of club nights across the city. But it was in 2001 that the festival as we know it today was born. Held on a single day in the Poble Espanyol – an open-air architectural museum built in the style of a historic Spanish town – the debut attracted around 8000 fans with performances from the likes of Armand van Helden, UNKLE and a number of Spanish acts including Los Planetas and Manta Ray.


2002 – Two Days

Following the success of the debut edition, the festival expanded to two days in their second year. With that change came a bigger lineup that included Pulp, Aphex Twin, Spiritualized, Echo & The Bunnymen, Andrew Weatherall and Green Velvet.


2004 – Three Days

In just their fourth year the festival upped the scale yet again, transforming the event into a three-day affair for the first time. Highlights included PJ Harvey, Primal Scream, Wilco and the first European performance in twelve years from alt-rocks icons Pixies.

2005 - A New Home

By the fifth edition, Primavera Sound had outgrown its Poble Espanyol home and it was time to move. The destination: Parc del Forum, the festival's home to this day.

2008 – Primavera als Clubs 

After increasing their audience and earning a growing number of international fans, 2008 saw the addition of a new feature of the festival that is still going strong over a decade later. Paying tribute to the festival's roots in the clubs of Barcelona, an additional programme was added that saw artists perform across the city in the days leading up to the main festival.

2010 – A Six-Figure Audience and Primavera Pro

The start of this decade brought a landmark edition for Primavera Sound, not only did audiences across the weekend top 100,000 for the first time in the festival's history – watching the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Pixies, Pavement, The xx, Beach House and more – but the Primavera Pro concept was born.

This side of the festival brought together labels, agencies, promoters and other industry figures for a programme of talks, panels and workshops focused on the issues facing festivals and the broader music industry as whole.

2014 – Artists' Favourite Festival

In 2014, following a memorable edition that featured headline sets from Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Pixies, Nine Inch Nails and Kendrick Lamar, Primavera Sound earned itself the accolade of 'Artists' Favourite Festival' at the annual European Festival Awards.

Speaking about the festival, Interpol's Daniel Kessler said that "Primavera Sound is one of those events that all musicians look forward to playing. It’s not just another festival."

2017 - 200,000

Now undeniably sitting at the top table of European festivals, Primavera Sound welcomed crowds of over 200,000 for the very first time in 2017. And despite Frank Ocean pulling out of his headline appearance, the festival was nonetheless a success with the likes of Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Aphex Twin, Solange, Van Morrison, Grace Jones, The xx and Slayer putting in memorable performances.

2019 – The New Normal

Last year saw the organisers of Primavera Sound take a big step, and make a bold statement, with regard to the make-up of their lineup. In the wake of widespread criticism of the festival industry as a whole over the historic and ongoing gender imbalance on festival lineups, and in accordance with PRS For Music's 'Keychange' initiative to deliver a 50/50 gender split on lineups by 2022, Primavera Sound took the lead on the matter by delivering on this promise years ahead of target. Branding this change as 'The New Normal', the organisers made it clear that they were going to be industry-leaders in changing the festival landscape.

2020 - A 20th Anniversary

Now, nearly two decades on from that modest debut just after the turn of the millennium, Primavera Sound is ready to celebrate a landmark 20th anniversary edition as one of Europe's biggest and most widely respected music festivals.

With another gender-balanced lineup consolidating the new approach to curation, and a wealth of diverse talent from all manner of genres (see the full lineup here) the latest instalment is set to further cement the festival's place as one of the world's best.

Book tickets, packages, accommodation and extras for Primavera Sound 2020 here


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