Bilbao is unlike any city I’ve been to, and the Bilbao BBK unlike any festival I’ve experienced. I was amazed at the enormity of it (typical me not doing my research) as I expected it to be a small, traditional town. On the contrary, Bilbao is a bustling hive of activity, with both modern infrastructure and rich cultural heritage to explore. In the days after the festival we stayed in a hostel in the centre of town and tried to cover as much ground as possible to see everything we wanted to.
The Old City is a beautiful area located past the river, featuring cobbled, winding streets and coloured terraces with pretty balconies. Little alleyways would immerse you in the heart of stunning plazas and squares, giving a true feel of the traditional Spanish side of Bilbao before it’s urban sprawl. We visited the world-renowned Guggenheim, a innovative, unique museum showcasing a range of intriguing contemporary art and exhibitions by artists and designers such as Bill Viola and Andy Warhol. The building itself was a work of art; gold and creatively designed by Frank Gehry. Sculptures outside were as impressive as those inside (maybe even more so): as you approach the museum you’re met with a giant ‘Puppy’ covered in blooming plants created by Jeff Koons. My favourite piece is the one shown below, ‘The Renowned Orders of the Night’ by Anselm Kiefer portraying himself as a lone figure beneath the night sky.
Bilbao is home to some incred parks as well, ideal if (like us) you’re done with all the adventuring and just want somewhere to chill for a day. We did this on our last afternoon while killing time waiting to get our bus back to the airport, and it was a great atmosphere to read, listen to music and play with the adorable abundance of dogs the city’s people have.
DRESS Cheap Monday at Urban Outfitters | BOOTS Doc Martens | BAG Topshop (old)
Wearing this dress always makes me feel like I’m a starman, so what better place to wear it than a festival? Especially on the gloomiest of days to brighten spirits when expecting sunny climes! It also enhances glitter perfectly, so that’s a win/win for me. My bumbag decided to break on this day, so I switched to this patchwork cross-body bag that came with me to my first ever festival back in 2014 and have dutifully hauled with me since. I think it adds a splash of that trusty, boho style without having to go full on hippie. My hair managed to remain relatively normal without a wash for the whole festival, so I could experiment with a range of styles. I wore it in these plaits for a good two days though – they hide any greasy/dry spots and look really cute (cuter still sprinkled with glitter).
I’d consider myself a seasoned festival-goer by now, and so I’m confident in admitting that Bilbao is the best one I’ve attended yet. Let’s face it, it’s not worth going if you fancy some hot holiday relaxation, because as for the weather we could have still been in Wales! There were a few scorchers and luckily this year I’ve been blessed with a tan (a miracle considering my snow white complexion) but overall assets included the killer line up, amazing scenery in the fab location of Mount Cobetas and the friendly folk we met out there. Downside: a considerable lack of tasty veggie food.
The campsite was set right in the heart of the mountains, with free twenty four hour busses transferring crowds to the arena and down into the city of Bilbao and back again. The festival site was minute in comparison to major British events, but this meant it was easy to secure a good spot for watching acts. Due to the enormity of some of the headliners I was surprised at what a well-kept secret Bilbao BBK is; the relative smallness of it and how laid back the vibe is. The 5 stages are easily accessible and only a short distance from each other, with two being dance tents for party people that want to make the most of their time and disco into the sunrise. There’s a forest (where everyone swarmed when it rained) with a DJ, coloured lanterns and a tiki themed bar, and there’s plenty of freebees that get dished out on a daily basis (think free Heineken samples, Chanel and t-shirts).
As for the music, I was super impressed. We danced to the likes of Circa Waves, Two Door Cinema Club, The Killers, The Lemon Twigs and Fleet Foxes – some of my all-time favourite bands. I was mostly exhilarated to watch The 1975 (anyone who knows me knows I’m a total fangirl) for the fourth time, particularly because we managed to stand at the very front and I don’t think I took my eyes off the stage for the whole set, and I definitely didn’t stop singing!
If you’re stuck for festival inspo next year, I’d seriously suggest you consider Bilbao. I had a great week with some great people, and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. For fun-loving, music obsessed disco travellers this is 100% the place to be. It’s a travel experience and a musical bonanza (and being honest, it totally beats five nights in a muddy, smelly field in the middle of England).
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my time in Bilbao as much as I loved going!