After financial problems and falling crowds, the Benicàssim Festival is reborn

The 21st edition of the famed event on the Valencia coast attracted 161,000 festival-goers, thanks to acts such as headliners Muse

Festivalgoers at this year’s Benicàssim.
Festivalgoers at this year’s Benicàssim.JOSE JORDAN (AFP)

The International Benicàssim Festival (FIB) appears to have finally put its troubles behind it. This year’s event, which concluded on Sunday night, has won the acclaim of both the critics and the public, attracting a total of 161,000 festival-goers, 46,000 of whom were in attendance on Saturday night to see UK rock group Muse, who were the headliners of the third night of the event.

The festival, which has taken place every year in the Valencian seaside town since 1995, has battled dwindling audiences since the start of the decade, while its promoter, Maraworld, recently ran into financial difficulties and faced bankruptcy.

FIB 2016 has had an effect that we have not seen for many years in Benicàssim Mayor Susana Marqués

But ever since promoter Melvin Benn took control of Maraworld he has been on a mission to diversify the public the festival attracts, as well as drawing in new sponsors, freeing the company from the financial problems inherited from past failures.

Benn himself described this year as having been “incredible,” and he said he was particularly pleased with the new layout of the site, which involves shorter walking distances between the biggest stages as well as areas such as the sponsored J&B South Beach. This year also saw the return of national broadcaster radio 3’s FIB Club tent, which had been particularly missed by Spanish festival-goers.

As for the numbers through the gate, the organizers have reported 35,000 people in attendance on the first night, Thursday, 40,000 on Friday, and the aforementioned 46,000 on Saturday. As has been traditionally the case, festival-goers from the United Kingdom and Ireland made up the majority of the public, at 48% of the total, followed by a larger number of Spaniards than in other editions, at 46%. The remaining 6% was a mix of nationalities, mostly from Europe.

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The mayor of Benicàssim, Susana Marqués, said that “FIB 2016 has had an effect that we have not seen for many years in Benicàssim,” and reinforced the idea that the event is the “highest-quality festival in Europe.”

Javier Moliner, the head of the province of Castellón, to which Benicàssim belongs, said that he trusted that the problems the festival had faced are now in the past, adding that festivals in the area are part of the “strategic approach within the tourist policies of Castellón.”

The 2017 edition of FIB will take place from July 13 to 16, and advance tickets are already on sale.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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