It’s 2017 and the festival is firmly alive and kicking. But while Glastonbury is life-changing, Sziget is an epic endurance event and Tomorrowland is a Disney-cum-EDM carnival, the trend at the moment isn’t to go bigger and better.
Tucked away on a Spanish hillside in the picturesque town of Ronda was the setting for the debut edition of UVA Festival, the country’s first truly boutique festival. It was refreshing by name (Uva is Spanish for grape) and intimate by nature with an official capacity of only 500 people.
With boutique festivals popping up everywhere at the moment, punters have come to expect, in addition to great music, exceptional food, decorations and, most of all, the Instagramability. UVA Festival offers all of that in spades. Its location is the Descalzos Viejos, a building that was originally a monastery in the 15th century and has been turned into a vineyard sunken into the hillside facing Ronda’s iconic cliffs. It offers up incredible views of golden plains and rocky sierras as well as being a situated off the beaten path, meaning noise wasn’t an issue.
The stages complimented their surroundings brilliantly thanks to architecture team Zuloark and a production team led by Ferdinand Bene, giving the feel of an extravagant house party rather than a festival. The main stage was spacious and offered the best views while the Jungle Stage fit in perfectly with it’s luscious surroundings of multi-tiered rock walls, cacti and orange trees (which actually had oranges growing on them). And with a line-up featuring Antal, San Proper and Brilliant Corners selector Donna Leake, there was no shortage of cool, obscure and sunshine-appropriate tunes.
But the essence of the festival lay with the size of the crowd. It’s what generated that house party feel, lines for the bar were basically non-existent, it was easy to get around the site and, most importantly you got to know your fellow revellers. Organisers Moody Collective labelled the event a festival for friends, by friends and that’s exactly what it felt like by the end of the weekend.
With Primavera and Sonar acting as the two big dogs on Spain’s summer circuit, UVA Festival stakes a claim as a worthwhile alternative to the big crowds and identical line-ups. Here’s to a triumphant return next year.
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