Now in its fifth year, BBK  in the Basque city of Bilbao has become a firm fixture on the festival circuit, thanks in part to good timing (it follows the Running of the Bulls in nearby Pamplona), and its proximity to some of the best surf in Europe.

This year acts include Paul Weller, Rammstein, Pearl Jam, Manic Street Preachers, Faith No More, Jet and Slayer.

But while you’re there, there’s also plenty more to see and do in the city.

Explore the Guggenheim Bilbao

Modern art gallery Guggenheim Bilbao was built in 1997 by architect Frank Gehry.

A cross between a huge tin-foil corsage and a space age ship it stuck out like a sore, titanium thumb when it opened in the rundown port.

But it put Bilbao on the tourist map, sparking regeneration, and looking at the chic, modern city today, it seems the gamble more than paid off.

After taking in the art and lunch on the terrace, cross the footbridge over the river to gawp at the building itself, its futuristic arcs and planes glinting in the midday sun.

Immerse yourself in Basque culture

Despite its emphasis on modern design, Bilbao hasn’t forgotten its medieval roots and Casco Viejo remains an important part of the city, home to the Basque Museum and the gothic Santiago cathedral.

After wandering the narrow alleyways of Las Siete Calles (seven streets), refuel on pintxos (the Basque take on tapas) among the arched arcades of Plaza Nueva.

Have fun at the BBK festival

A quick tram ride to the bus station and you’ll be on a bus to the festival at Kobetamendi.

With two stages and a dance tent, the site seems too small for the big names it attracts, but the beauty of this is you don’t spend hours traipsing between stages and, thanks to acts alternating between stages, you don’t miss a band.

What you need to know about travelling to Bilbao

When to go Bilbao BBK Live 2010 is on July 8-10.

Getting there Vueling flies from Heathrow to Bilbao, while EasyJet leaves from Stansted.

Getting around Choose from buses, trams and the metro. During Bilbao BBK Live, a free shuttle bus runs between the city’s main bus station and the festival site or it’s a 15-minute walk.

Visas South Africans need a Schengen visa.

Currency Euro. 1 GBP = 1.14 EUR. At the festival, you’ll need to buy tokens to pay for food and drink.

Language Spanish (Castilian) and Basque.

Going out A small beer is ¤2.

Accommodation A three-day ticket to the festival (£65) includes camping. Hotel doubles in the city start at ¤30.

SEE and

Other European festivals

Sonar, Barcelona, Spain (June 17-19)
This dance music spectacular combines electronic beats and art exhibitions in one of Spain’s most attractive cities.

Exit, Novi Sad, Serbia (July 8-11)
Head to the Serbian town of Novi Sad for three days of rocking out in the grounds of a medieval fortress.

Sziget, Budapest, Hungary (August 11-16)
Jump on a water taxi from this island festival to ease your hangover in one of Budapest’s thermal spas.