An American’s Travel Guide to Spain’s Mad Cool Festival 2019

Make the most of your upcoming visit to Europe's premier music festival and beautiful Madrid

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Editor’s Note: Consequence of Sound is an editorial partner of Mad Cool Festival.

Now enjoying its fourth year, Spain’s Mad Cool Festival continues to prove itself as a premier European music festival. Playing host to artists from The Who to Green Day to Arctic Monkeys, Mad Cool’s robust lineup has been a major selling point in years past, leading to last year’s record crowds of 240,000 over the three-day weekend. Held in the Valdebebas area of Madrid (just 10 minutes from the Madrid-Barajas airport), Mad Cool Festival offers a perfect opportunity for music lovers to travel abroad, experience stellar performances, and see the sites of the historic Spanish capital.

With just over a month before Mad Cool gets underway for the July 10-13 weekend, we’d like to offer some tips on what to expect from the festival and the surrounding Madrid experience.


The Music

The National "Hairpin Turns" song single video new music release
The National, photo by Ben Kaye

Though the previous three years’ lineups are tough acts to follow, this year’s lineup is an alternative rock fan’s dream, boasting some of today’s best, like Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, The National, The 1975, Sharon Van Etten, and Parquet Courts as well as some newer favorites like Let’s Eat Grandma and Foxing. Those looking for ‘90s nostalgia are in for a treat as well as the festival hosts The Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, The Chemical Brothers, Robyn, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Mogwai. Though alternative rock and electronic music seem to dominate the lineup, the legendary Iggy Pop and hip-hop artists Vince Staples and Prophets of Rage help round out the festival’s diversity.

For those wanting to hear local talent, Mad Cool will feature multiple artists you may not get an opportunity to see State-side. Madrid native trio Cariño will display their dreamy indie rock aesthetic during their Friday set, while cigar box-and-drum duo DobleCapa look to rock the stage White Stripes-style on Saturday. Other European groups like Irish/British rock duo Rews and Finnish pop powerhouse Alma are certain to keep crowds moving throughout the weekend and guarantee even Mad Cool’s lesser-known sets are going to be a party.


In addition to the three-day weekend, this year, Mad Cool is adding a Welcome Party on Wednesday, July 10 featuring headliners Bring Me the Horizon, Lykke Li, and Spain’s captivating star Rosalía. For just an extra €24 added to the three-day pass, festivalgoers (especially those traveling overseas) won’t want to miss out on the extra day.

Check out the entire Mad Cool lineup at their website.


The Food

Mad Cool Festival, photo by Josefina Grosso
Mad Cool Festival, photo by Josefina Grosso

Last year, Mad Cool Festival offered its guests 31 unique food options from a number of global cuisines as well as delicious local favorites. According the Mad Cool’s 2018 statement, “You can enjoy the best classic tapas, calamari sandwiches or tortilla skewers, as well as rice dishes and an array meats with certified designations of origin.” The festival also works to provide excellent options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free eaters. While no outside food or drink is allowed (except empty water bottles), those accustomed to the steep prices of American festival food will find respite in Mad Cool’s fair prices. Half-liter drinks reportedly cost €4 and food options start at just €5.

For those wanting to explore food options outside the festival, Historic Barajas’ Campanilla offers a great selection of tapas as well as highly recommended Spanish omelettes and flan. Those looking for nearby cocktails should visit local favorite Minotauro in the Hortaleza district and sip on one of their gourmet mojitos. Of course, Madrid is lush with myriad culinary options. For more local favorites near Mad Cool Festival, check here.


The Sights

Mad Cool Ferris Wheel

Mad Cool Festival is located just across the road from the 840-acre Parque Forestal de Valdebebas, Madrid’s largest urban park. The scenic attraction is home to 32 kilometers of walking trails, natural springs, lagoons, an arboretum, and a labyrinthine overlook, which is perfect for a photo op. The park is free to visitors who can even take advantage of free guided park tours on Sundays.

For those who enjoy visual art just as much as music, the Prado Museum is a must-visit. Considered one of Europe’s finest art collections, the Prado celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2019 and features stunning exhibits such as Fra Angelico and the Rise of the Florentine Renaissance. Travelers should definitely take advantage of the museum’s free admission hours from 6-8 PM every Monday through Saturday (5-7 on Sunday). If you’re looking for more music-related experiences, The Pink Floyd Exhibition, also located across the road from Mad Cool, boasts “an exceptional look at the Pink Floyd universe, which includes unique and never-displayed objects from each stage of [their] eclectic career.” For just €16 on weekdays, the audiovisual experience seems “a gas” for classic rock fans.

If you don’t have time to explore much outside the festival, no worries! Mad Cool boasts plenty of attractions besides the music from Ferris wheels to trampolines and karaoke. Of course, as we’ve mentioned, the music is sure to provide all the persuasion needed to attend Madrid’s impressive festival.

For tickets and more information, be sure to check out Mad Cool’s website.



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