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Starlite Festival Marbella 2023

Starlite Festival - Marbella

by Chris Chaplow

The Starlite Festival is a two 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.

Star-themed fashion at the Starlite Festival.

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 2023

Starlite Festival 2023 will be held at the Cantera de Nagüeles, Marbella between Fri 30th June and Sat 30th August 2023, although there are also concerts on Fri/sat 23/24th June. 20 auditorium concerts were announced in 2022 for Summer 2023 including international artists such as Lionel Richie, Rod Stewart, Gypsy Kings and Norah Jones, Anastasia, Zaz.

Lionel Richie returns on 6th July 2023. His concert was postponed in 2020 and later rescheduled for 26th July 2022 but this was also cancelled. Anastasia's concert was rescheduled from 2022 to 12 July 2023.

2023 Artists line up:

Artists Date
India Martinez Sat 24th June 2023
Sebastián Yatra Wed 5th July 2023
Lionel Richie Thu 6th July 2023
Gypsy Kings
featuring Nicolás Reyes
Sat 8th July 2023
Anastasia Wed 12th July 2022
Ludovico Einaudi Tue 18th July 2023
Rod Stuart Fri 21st July 2023
David Bispal Mon 24th July 2023
Norah Jones Thu 27th July 2023
Andrés Calamaro Sat 29th July 2023
Carlos Rivera Mon 31th July 2023
Farruquito, Israel Fernández
& Diego del Morao
Fri 4th August 2023
Zaz Mon 7th August 2023
Sara Baras Wed 9th August 2023
Taburete Tue 15th August 2023
Antonio José Thu 17th August 2023
Vincente Sat 19th August 2023
Lola Indigo Fri 25th August 2023
David Bispal Wed 30th August 2023
   
   

History

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.

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

Starlite Sessions

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).

Starlite Restaurants

In 2022 dining in 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). There are two menus;  Menu Starlite 4 course for 70€ per person and Menú Glut a complete selection from the munu for 100 € per person. 

In 2018 the restaurant featured a gourmet market concept. Previous years reatured up to four different 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 reservations varied in price according to the night but 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

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.

Starlite Lounge

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.

Starlite Events

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.

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.

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.

BUS SERVICE

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.   

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:

Booking.com

Destinations

See and Do