The Best of Bilbao: BBK Live Music Festival

The United States has the Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo music festivals. Not to be outdone, Bilbao has the BBK Live Music Festival, complete with its’ own custom built venue.

Like its’ music festival cousins in the United States, BBK Live features mainly rock and alternative artists. The festival attracts some big name artists from the U.S. top 40 charts. The Police, Kiss, Pearl Jam, Coldplay, Radiohead, Metallica, and Depeche Mode have all played the festival. Many of these artists, including Coldplay and Radiohead, choose BBK Live as their only tour appearance in Spain.

Promotional banner for Bilbao BBK Live Music Festival
Promotional banner for Bilbao BBK Live Music Festival

Mount Cobetas, a ten-minute drive southwest of downtown Bilbao, is the home of BBK Live. A huge 40-acre park at Mount Cobetas provides the setting for the three-stage festival. It’s sort of a Woodstock-sized park at higher elevation, with a better view.  The setting’s convenience to the airport and downtown area make it a favorite of many concertgoers in Europe.

BBK Live also has a reputation of being a more laid-back and friendly music festival experience. This may be due to the later concert starting times, which are often after dark. Similar festivals in the U.S. go all day.  The combination of location, reputation, and friendliness bring plenty of people and business to Bilbao.

The BBK Live is held annually in July, when the high temperatures are a concert friendly 75F-80F. July in Bilbao is the least rain-filled time of the year, but the concert has been known to see some rain nonetheless.

The 2015 edition of BBK live will feature headliner Muse; a British rock band known for high-energy live performances and their top 10 album “Black Holes and Revelations”. The remainder of the 2015 BBK Live lineup will be announced in the coming months, but the event typically attracts five to six well known radio artists.

Of course, during the festival, the artists themselves need a place to stay. It is common to see some big name artists staying at downtown hotels such as the Gran Hotel Domine. You may even see them at the rooftop breakfast, or mulling around the lobby before they head out to their next gig.

As sort of a teaser for BBK Live, promoters have developed the BBK Live Specials. The Specials are a series of smaller concerts spread throughout the year, and held in downtown Bilbao. The Specials feature up-and-coming artists rather than the current day headliners.

Attendance at BBK Live typically reaches over 100,000 visitors across the three-day duration. Three-day tickets for the upcoming 2015 festival go for 90€ (about $112 U.S.), with festival-goers paying another 8€ ($10 U.S.) for access to the campgrounds. The BBK live is more competitively priced than its’ U.S. competitors. Bonnaroo music festival tickets, as an example, are $345 U.S.

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