There can surely be few better settings in which to listen to high quality music than some of Granada’s emblematic, renowned venues. Consequently, the annual International Festival of Music and Dance, which takes place around the third week of June, provides a perfect experience for lovers of music, dance and Granada to truly indulge themselves. Venues where events take place include the King Carlos V Palace, the open-air theatre in the Generalife Gardens, in El Patio de los Arrayanes in the heart of the Alhambra and various other of Granada’s historic churches and buildings.
The Festival can trace its beginnings back to 1883 when a series of symphonic concerts were held in the King Carlos V Palace during the Corpus Christi celebrations. Later, in 1922, the Cante Jondo contest for Flamenco singers took place in Plaza de los Aljibes Square in the Alhambra with such notable figures as Lorca and Falle amongst the intellectuals and artists attending.
The festival started to grow in an unofficial manner until, in 1955, it came under the auspices of the European Association of Festivals and since that time it has developed into the major festival that it has now become with appearances by such illustrious names as Arthur Rubinstein, Andrés Segovia, Herbert von Karajan, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev and many, many more.
The event now encompasses many differing styles and genres in its headline concerts but, equally as important for the thousands of visitors to the city are the late nights of Flamenco music and, indeed, music from all around the world that can be unofficially listened to in the areas around El Albaicín and El Sacromonte, amongst others. The whole of Granada comes alive with the sound of not only typically Spanish guitars, castanets and flamenco dancers but also with the music brought to the city by its many visitors.
Tickets for the Granada International Festival
Tickets for most of the concerts sell out very quickly- supply cannot hope to meet demand – but, if you are unlucky and can’t obtain tickets for the major venues then you can still get in to one of the 6 Café Conciertos in the Teatro del Hotel in the Alhambra Palace featuring La Familia García or Pequeñas Fantasías de Salón.
You can purchase tickets for these one hour before a performance at the Hotel Reception Desk – and you get your first drink free! There are also some free concerts where the seats are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis in Hospital Real, Monasterio de San Jerónimo, Santa Iglesia Catedral and Corral del Carbón. Even the children aren’t forgotten – well, this is Spain, after all – as there are special concerts in El Festival de los Pequeños.
If you can make it to Granada for the Festival then you’ll undoubtedly be enchanted by the atmosphere the city adopts at this special time of the year. Granada is a magical city every day, but, from the 3rd week of June for around a fortnight lovers of music and dance wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else in the entire world.