Marbella - Starlite Festival

Starlite Festival - Marbella

The Starlite Festival is a month-long music and cultural event held in July / August at the Cantera de Nagüeles, in Marbella. It is now established as one of the important annual social and entertainment events in Spain.

© Michelle Chaplow A spectator reflects the name of the festival with her dress.
Star-themed fashion at the Starlite Festival.

The stage is surrounded by 60 metre-high rock walls, which creates an interesting, intimate atmosphere, like a secret, hidden venue beneath the stars for the 2,200 guests. Access is slightly complicated, but worth the effort. Except for VIPs, cars need to be parked a mile away and minibuses shuttle guests up and down the hill.

The festival set is slightly different every year and has to be reconstructed each season. It is impressive, logistically, to appreciate that everything down to the last bottle of water, in this glamorous lounge and concert venue, has to be brought up the hill to the former quarry. In the main auditorium, VIP attendees sit in "Bubble Boxes" (eight-seater boxes) behind and elevated above the 15 rows of stalls and where waiters serve drinks during the concerts.


Starlite Festival 2018 will be held at the Cantera de Nagüeles, Marbella. This followed uncertainties caused by last year's late license dispute with Marbella Town Hall.

The festival dates are not announded but the Starlite Festival 2018 will at least run from 14th July to 23 August 2018.

Sting at Starlite Marbella Sting in Marbella

Sting in Starlite Marbella on Thursday 19th July 2018. Doors open 20:30 hrs and the concert begins at 22:30.


James Blunt at Starlite Marbella James Blunt in Marbella

James Blunt in Starlite Marbella on Friday 3rd August 2018. Doors open 20:30 hrs and the concert begins at 22:30.


Artists now confirmed are:

Charles Aznavour; 14th July 2018, Buy Tickets
Sting; 19th July 2018, Buy Tickets
David Bispal; 20th July 2018, Buy Tickets
Miguel Poveda;  20th July 2018, Buy Tickets
IL Divo: 28th July 2018, Buy Tickets
Romeo Santos;  
31st July 2018, Buy Tickets
Pablo Alboran;  
1st August 2018Buy Tickets
James Blunt; 
3rd August 2018, Buy Tickets
Pablo Lopez;  4th August 2018, Buy Tickets
Cantajuego;  4th August 2018, Buy Tickets
Joan Manuel Serat;  8th August 2018, Buy Tickets
Sara Baras; 11th August 2018, Buy Tickets.
Jorge Blass; 13th August 2018, Buy Tickets
Taburete; 15th August 2018, Buy Tickets.
Estopia; 21th August 2018, Buy Tickets
Miguel Rios; 23th August 2018, Buy Tickets.



The first use of the former quarry site, situated above Marbella, was in 1983. Alfonso Hohenlohe, who founded the Marbella Club Hotel, and singers Julio Iglesias and Plácido Domingo, decided to create the Auditorio de Marbella open-air auditorium, and to found an internationally-renowned music festival. They held a successful Tenors concert, however the annual festival didn't happen, and the venue was left abandoned for nearly 30 years. In 2012 the quarry site was cleaned up and a new auditorium constructed for the inaugural Starlite Festival.  

A parallel event, the Starlite Gala, a star-studded charity concert and dinner which started in 2010, usually takes place on second Saturday in August, and is led by Antonio Banderas

Buena Vista Social Club at Starlite Festival 2013. ©Michelle Chaplow
Buena Vista Social Club at Starlite Festival 2013.


Starlite Festival 2017

The Starlite Festival was be held in 2017 from 13 July to 26 August 2017 at the Cantera de Nagüeles, in Marbella headlined by Elton John on 20 July 2017. The 2017 edition was over-shadowed by a late lisence dispute with the town hall

Starlight Lounge

The impressive lounge has a mix of general seating and several drinks brand-sponsored cocktail bar areas serving pre-concert drinks. The Starlite Lounge opens at 20.00, and the carefully-designed lighting comes into maximum effect as the sun sets over Marbella. Entrance before midnight is free.

On concert nights, this area fills quickly to standing room only untill the concert starts at 22.00. There are several outlets, bars and other stalls selling sweets and costume jewellery. Access to Starlight Lounge is free from 20:00 to 24:00, except the nights when named artists are performing on the lounge stage.

The Starlite Festival also includes fashion shows, open-air film premier's, art exhibitions and nightclub events on nights when there is no concert. A number of smaller (and not too expensive) food stalls have also been added under the auditorium. The lounge has come a long way since 2012 when the catering was out of shipping containers, albeit chicly decorated ones.

Starlight NIGHTS

Starlight Nights (prior to 2016 called Starlite Disco) starts in the lounge area at midnight. Entrance is free before 24:00, 12€ from 24:00 to 03:00, and 20€ after 03:00 and includes one drink. Entrance is free to those exiting the concert shortly after midnight; stopping at the disco is encouraged to disperse the 'rush hour' queue for the buses back down the hill to the car parking area. The lounge can be a good place to meet up with friends who have been to the concert. The Starlight Nights has its own headline events, fashion shows and top DJs. Starlite Nights closes at 06.00. All this information about Starlite Nights is from 2016, since mention was removed from the website for the 2017 season.

On the night of 3 August 2017, following the Gypsy Kings concert at the Starlite Marbella Festival, the Starlite Lounge area was unexpectedly closed at 2am, as local police had been requested by the Jose Bernal, Marbella's then Mayor, to enforce licence opening hours. (Opening hours for bars in Andalucia are till 2am, and 3am Friday and Saturday.)   This act was widely reported in local and national press. The Starlite Marbella organisers had earlier complained about the lack of Town Council support, and had announced that they were seriously considering moving the 2018 edition of the festival (quietly re-branded back to "Starlite Festival") to another location in Spain. Read here the full story the Starlite (Marbella) Festival licensing saga.

Starlight Auditorium Concerts

The 'Under the Stars' auditorium is divided into three areas: the stalls (platea), the boxes (palcos) and the grandstand (tribuna). Each of these is sub-divided; the stalls have a super premium area (centre front), premium (centre), platea (sides), and the boxes have Platinum, Gold and Silver, and the grandstand Tribune Club (front row centre), Tribune A (front), Tribune B (centre) and Tribune C (back).


In 2017 there were four restaurants, one in each of the VIP areas around the Starlite Lounge, and each giving access to the VIP area of the same name for the five persons dining.  Table reservation vary in price according to the night but range form 250€ to 3500€. LE CLUB tables are the most exclusive, LE PRIVEE is placed above the stage and dancing floor, LE PLUS is located on the other side of the stage, and LA RESERVE a larger elevated area with best views of the entire ensemble.

In previous years the restaurants were run by famous restaurateurs such as MIL LUNAS BY MILLESIME (2015 & 2016) or Danni Garcia, this was dropped in 2017.  


There are VIP areas adjoining the lounge. In 2015 they were called  LE PRIVEE, is the liveliest VIP area and where the celebrities tend to go. Tables can be reserved for 4-6 people with a minimum consumption of 150€. Le Club is the most exclusive VIP zone and it where the clients of the concert boxes meet after the concert. Tables can be reserved for 4 persons with a 225€ minimum consumption. In 2016 Le Club was called The Stage where one could share the space with the DJs on the moonbeds (no sunshade  needed.)  Bed booths for 4 - 6 persons were 225€ minimum consumption.


Starlite Festival is a major event in the Marbella cultural and social calendar. ©Michelle Chaplow
Starlite Festival is a major event in the Marbella cultural and social calendar.


From centre of Marbella, at Plaza Bocanegra near the Palacio de Congresos (Exhibition Centre), take Avenida Don Jaime de Mora, cross the motorway and turn into Avenida Buchinger, which becomes Avenida Albinoni. Keep going up, following the other cars, and look out for Starlight signs. On reaching the checkpoint you will be directed left into an unmade car park - the VIP area is first, and then the public car park. Don't wear your best shoes and have your mobile phone light or a torch ready, as you'll need them when you return to the unlit car park. Here is the location map of the car park that you have to drive to.

After parking the car, walk back (gently uphill) to the astroturf corridor entrance where a fleet of minibuses ferry the visitors one mile up the steep hill to about 50 steps which you have to climb to reach the Starlight entrance. There is a VIP car park near the venue and this is only available to those reserving a bubble box for the concerts or a table in the restaurant or lounge.  The entrance area is much enlarged and improved since the early years.  After midnight (Starlite Night guests), valet parking is available for 10€ which saves you getting the bus. Pay cash, card or online.


From 13 July to 26 August 2017  starlite organised a bus service. In 2016 the bus service was from San Pedro Boulevard and Bus stop at entrance to Puerto Banus to Starlite festival, and another from Farmacia Berdaguer in central Marbella and Edificio Portillo and Piruli to starlite.   

All this sounds complicated to first-timers, but once in the venue you will see it was worth the effort. 



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