Starlite Festival, Marbella - 14th June to 31st August 2024
by Chris Chaplow
The Starlite Festival is a three month-long music and cultural event held in June and July and August at the Cantera de Nagüeles, in Marbella. It is now established as one of the important annual social and entertainment events in Spain. First and last dates of currently confirmed concerts are 14th June to 31st August 2024.
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 3,500 seat auditorium. 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 5 open air 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 2024
Starlite Festival 2024 will take place at the Cantera de Nagüeles in Marbella between 14th June and 31st August. Eight auditorium concerts were announced in November 2023 and by end of February 35 were anounced including international artists such as Sheryl Crow, Mike Towers, Camilo, Christian Nodal, Take That, Diana Krall, Keane, Gypsey Kings, Simple Minda, Tom Jones, UB40, Luis Miguel and Sara Baras. Other, mainly national, artists continued to be announced in spring 2024. There are still 28 'coming soon' dates on the Starlite calendar, if all filled making festival total of 63 concert nights. Last year, 2023 the full line-up of 56 artists was completed in early May.
2024 Artists line up:
|Fri 14th June 2024
|Fri 21st June 2024
|Sat 22nd June 2024
|Sat 29th June 2024
|Wed 3rd July 2024
|Thur 4th July 2024
|Sat 6th July 2024
|Mon 8th July 2024
|Tue 9th July 2024
|Sat 13th July 2024
|Sun 14th July 2024
|Mon 15th July 2024
|Tue 16th July 2024
|Wed 19th July 2024
|Mon 22nd July 2024
|Tue 23rd July 2024
|Wed 24th July 2024
|Mon 29th July 2024
|Tue 30th July 2024
|Wed 31st July 2024
|Thur 1st August 2024
|Fri 2nd August 2024
|Sat 3rd August 2024
|Tue 6th August 2024
|Wed 7th August 2024
|Thu 8th August 2024
|UB40 featuring Ali Campbell
|Fri 9th August 2024
|La Oreja de Van Gogh
|Wed 14th August 2024
|Paula Mattheus / Marlon
|Thur 15th August 2024
|Abraham Mateo / Nil Moliner
|Fri 16th August 2024
|Sat 17th August 2024
|Mon 19th August 2024
|Tue 20th August 2024
|Fri 23rd August 2024
|Sat 31st August 2024
About the Artists
by Alex Cutts
Aitana is a 24-year-old Spanish pop princess from Barcelona who rose to fame in 2017 on Spain’s X-Factory-style reality TV show, Operación Triunfo. In 2019 she received the Best Pop Vocal Album award at the Latin Grammys and has since held four number one spots in the Spanish music charts. She first performed at the Starlite Festival in 2020 and returned to perform in 2021. Aitana is best known for her electropop tunes “Lo Malo”, “Telefono”, “Vas a Quedarte”, and “Mon Amour”.
Local singer-songwriter Vanesa Martin, from Malaga, joins the Starlite Festival, taking to the stage on Friday 29th June. 18 years after the launch of her first album “Agua” in 2006, Martin has released a further seven studio albums, her most recent being named “Siete Veces Si”. Her music is full of passion and emotion allowing her fans to relate to her on a personal level; her poetic songwriting often captures meaningful topics such as self-love and female empowerment.
Michael Torres from Puerto Rico, better known by his stage name Myke Towers, is one of the biggest and most current Latin artists in the world. He has collaborated with some of the most well-known names in Latin music, featuring on songs with global stars Bad Bunny and Becky G. His discography is a combination of reggaeton, Latin trap, and dancehall, and features salsa and hip-hop influences. He began rapping in his late teens and almost three decades later topped the Latin Album Charts with his hit record “Easy Money Baby” in 2020.
Luis Miguel is a Mexican singer and producer, also known by his nickname “El Sol de Mexico”. He was the best-selling Latin artist in the 1990s and popularised the bolero genre with hits such as ‘Hasta Que Vuelvas’, which received a nomination for Record of the Year at the 2003 Latin Grammys. He is one of the world’s top-selling Latin music artists, having sold over 60 million records worldwide. Miguel’s voice spans three octaves earning him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Los Secretos are a rock band that formed in Madrid in 1978, often associated with the Movida Madrileña; the punk movement in Madrid in the 1980s following the death of dictator Franco. The band is currently made up of five members; frontman Álvaro Urquijo, Ramón Arroyo on the guitar, Jesús Redondo who plays the keyboard, bassist Juanjo Ramos, and drummer Santi Fernández. Over the years eight other members have been a part of the Los Secretos band, but Urquijo is the only one of the three original members who remains. They are considered one of the most influential groups in Spanish rock history for their participation in the “New Wave” popular music revival.
Andalusian pop group, Siempre Asi from Seville will take to the stage of the Starlite Festival on Monday 19th August. This band of 8 boasts powerful vocals with half of its members being singers! Their Sevillan flamenco roots shine through in their music, having made them a staple in Spanish popular music for more than 25 years.
The first use of the former Puerto Banus stone 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. David and Elizabeth Brockman did try and revive it with the Festival International de Music Marbella in 1989. The quarry was then left abandoned for 23 years.
In 2012 the quarry site was cleaned up and a new auditorium constructed for the inaugural Starlite Festival. It has been held annually ever since and grown to become on of Spain's leading music festivals. Over the years Enrique Iglesias, Elton John, Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli, Ricky Martin, Tom Jones, Pet Shop Boys, Alejandro Sanz, Eros Ramazzotti, Luis Fonsi, Plácido Domingo and Anastacia have all played. The 2017 edition was overshadowed by a late license dispute with the Marbella town Hall, and 'Marbella' was removed from the Starlite Festival name and logo. The Lounge concept was subsequently dropped in favour of Sessions stage and VIP areas to avoid alegations of unfair competing with Marbella nightclubs. Due to the nature of the open air all-seated venue the Starlite festival was able to continue in Summer 2020 and 2021 albeit with social distancing few international performers.
A parallel event, the Starlite Gala, a star-studded charity concert and dinner which started in 2010 at villa Padierna Hotel and moved to the present venue, usually takes place on second Saturday in August, and is led by Antonio Banderas.
Starlite Sessions (called Starlite Nights in 2017 and prior to 2016 called Starlite Disco) start in the lounge area at 22.30. On some nights (13 in 2022) an artist performs on the sessions stage and tickets need to be purchases. On other nights when there is an artist in the Auditorium one may enjoy a drink and dance in the sessions area. Pre 2017 entrance was free before 24:00, 12€ from 24:00 to 03:00 hrs, and 20€ after 03:00 including one drink). Entrance is also open 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. o the concert. However the open session area is quite small and the former open lounge areas are now six different VIP areas and table must be reserved. The Starlite Sesions closes at 05.00. On nights that there is no concert in the Audirorium (most non August Sundays in 2022) the Starlite sessions in closed as well.
Starlite Auditorium Concerts
The 'Under the Stars' auditorium is divided into three areas: the Stalls (plateas), the six seat Boxes (palcos) and the Podium (tribunas) which used to be called Granstand. Each of these is sub-divided; the stalls have a Super Premium area (centre front), Premium (centre), General (centre/side) and Lateral Stalls (sides). The boxes have Platinum, Starlite (was Gold) and Gold (at the sides) and Silver (further sides), and in the rear Podium or grandstand there are Podium Club (front rows centre), Podium A (front), Podium B (centre) and Podium C (back).
Dining at the 'Starlite Restaurant' is in two sittings: one before the concert (20.00 to 22.00 hrs) and one after (23.00 to 01.30 hrs). In 2023 the restaurants were rebranded as Temazo (grill), Anima (Mexican), Tana Bata (Japonese) and Sandra’s Caviar Bar Temazo is the most economical, there are two menus; Menu Starlite 4 course for 70€ per person and Menú Glut a complete selection from the menu for 100 € per person (plus drinks). The other three are a la carte with a 30€ per person reservation.
In the last few years restaurants had been unbranded, and prior to 2018 the restaurants, were aligned to each of the VIP areas in the Starlite Lounge, and each giving access to the VIP area for the five persons dining. Table reservations ranged from 250€ to 3500€.
In earlier years the restaurants were run and branded by famous restaurateurs such as MIL LUNAS BY MILLESIME (2015 & 2016) or Danni Garcia in 2012.
VIP areas adjoining the lounge were introduced in 2015. Since then these have been expanded into areas previously open to concert ticket holders and visitors. Names and locations have also changed.
LE PRIVEE, is the liveliest VIP area and where the celebrities tend to go. The Mezanine area within Le Privee is called Up le Privèe (not to be confused with a classic Carry On film) and TOP Le Privé Tables can be reserved for 4-6-8 people with a minimum consumption of 150-300-400€ respectively. Le Plus and Le Plus Up is more select and located on the quieter side of the session stage. La Reserve over the entrance has 6 person tables for 300€. Le Club is the most exclusive and largest VIP zone located on a raised platform overlooking the sessions stage and the dancefloor. This is where the clients of the auditorium concert boxes meet after the concert. Tables can be reserved for 8 persons with a 400€ minimum consumption. In 2016 Le Club was called The Stage where one could share the space with the DJs on the Moonbeds where no sunshade was required.
The impressive former Starlite lounge concept had a mix of general seating and several drinks brand-sponsored cocktail bar areas serving pre-concert drinks. The Starlite Lounge was replaced in name after 2017 with the Sessions dance floor and the VIP areas. It opens at 20.00. The carefully-designed lighting comes into maximum effect as the sun set.
On concert nights, this area filled quickly to standing room only, now that it is much smaller concert goers hang out under the grandstand. The lounge also featured retail outlets, bars and other stalls selling sweets and costume jewelry. By 2017 shopping had increased to 21 stands and were being called Starlite Shopping and Starlite Gourmet. Both are now located under the grandstand. The shopping is now closer to a brand display in a upmarket department store. In 2017 when the licensing dispute with Marbella council erupted the lounge concept disappeared from the Starlite website.
The Starlite Festival had also included fashion shows, open-air film premier's, art exhibitions and nightclub style events on nights when there were no concert. There has been less focus on the parallel events since 2017. Starlite TV seems to be the future now. The lounge had come a long way since the opening year in 2012 when the catering was provided out of shipping containers, albeit chicly decorated ones.
ACCESS AND PARKING
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 Starlite 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. It looks a bit shabby in daylight. 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 the bottom of about 50 steps which you have to climb to reach the Starlite entrance. There is a VIP car park nearer the venue and this is only available to those with Gold and Silver boxes for the concerts. The entrance area is much enlarged and improved since the early years. Valet parking is for Platinum box ticket holders.
Since 2016 Starlite have provided a free shuttle bus service from Marbella town. The bus route is from Marbella Alameda, Farmacia Berdaguer, Edificio Portillo, Porcelanosa near Plaza Bocanegra to Starlite. It runs about every half hour from 22.30 hrs to 05.30 hrs. Link to timetable for this local bus number 10 on Marbella bus page.
All this sounds complicated to first-timers, but once in the venue you will see it was worth the effort.
All editions of Starlite festival
Line up and notes about the other editions of the Starlite festival: