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This year, Radiohead, The Cure and Bloc Party are just a few of the bands gracing the stage at Bilbao BBK Live music festival

The night is balmy, the mojitos are £1.50 a pop and I’ve only forked out a measly £88 for my weekend festival ticket to see music heavyweights Blondie, Kaiser Chiefs and Kasabian – a formula guaranteed to win over the most hard-to-impress festival veteran. Welcome to BBK Bilbao, a chilled-out rock festival and mud-free zone in Spain’s Basque Country.

Surrounded by brilliantly green mountains cloaked in low-lying clouds on the peak of Kobeta hill, which offers knockout views of the twinkling lights of Bilbao, BBK Live whips the ass of Reading and Glastonbury when it comes to location. This is especially important when pitching your tent as it means you can reside besides verdant rolling hills rather than cosying up to an overflowing portable toilet. What’s more, you can leave your wellies at home because it’s always mucho scorchio here in July.  

Now in its seventh year, BBK has consolidated its reputation as one of Europe’s leading festivals, regularly pulling in 40,000 punters, after attracting a string of big names including Pearl Jam, Depeche Mode, Jane’s Addiction and Coldplay. This year has a stellar line-up with The Cure and Radiohead headlining, while other top artists on the bill include Mumford & Sons, Snow Patrol, Klaxons, The Gift, Bloc Party, Garbage, Enter Shikari, The Maccabees, Pure Love and Here We Go Magic.  

Acts play alternately on the main stage and second stage, so there’s no chance of missing a band or being forced to make a tricky decision. 

The festival’s medium-size and friendly, pan-global crowd means there’s a blinding atmosphere, coupled with a mood of trouble-free fun – I didn’t witness an iota of aggro while here. Black-T-shirt-wearing ageing rockers happily rub shoulders with hip young things, resulting in a curious mish-mash of dance moves during the acts: think hip-shaking versus moshing.  

As the music doesn’t kick off until sundown, due to the sweat-inducing heat of the afternoon, there’s plenty of time to explore the city of Bilbao – well worth getting out of your sleeping bag for, and easy to reach, thanks to the shuttles that regularly run to and from the festival site. 


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Bilbao's BBK festival - Europe's most underrated music festival?
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