The FIB Heineken festival at Benicassim, the most international music event in Spain, was suspended for part of its four-day run because of hurricane-force winds. Headline act Kings of Leon was unable to perform.
As well as the adverse weather, the festival also suffered the last-minute cancellation of U.K. pop singer Lily Allen, who was diagnosed with gastroenteritis.
Yet the festival, held July 16-19, was described as the most successful in its 15-year history by organizer José Morán. Some 200,000 people attended the event on Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast between Barcelona and Valencia, to see acts such as Oasis, Franz Ferdinand and the Killers.
Morán said it was the third sold-out FIB Heineken fest and sold out its four-day passes quicker than ever.
But the festival was suspended during the July 17 performances of Tom Tom Club and Paul Weller on separate stages, and Kings of Leon was unable to play because of the storm that caused extensive damage, especially to the camping site, with winds reaching 75 kilometers per hour.
Some 1,500 people were evacuated from the camping area during a late-night operation and spent the night in a sports center. Tents were ripped from the ground and the site was covered in sand and dust (the festival site is close to the beach). Smoke from nearby bushfires enhanced the sense of destruction.
As the finishing touches to repairs were being completed Saturday (July 18), organizers received news from Lily Allen's representatives in London - just four hours before she was due to appear - that doctors had advised her not to fly from London to Spain. Organizer Maraworld's international communications director, Isabelle Juanco, said Allen had been diagnosed with gastroenteritis by her doctor. She was replaced by U.K. band Maximo Park, whose performance had not taken place on July 17.
Following the trend of previous years, about 60% of the audience was foreign, mainly British, and 40% Spanish, even though this year there were more domestic acts than ever. Forty out of the 100 artists and groups who played on the four stages were Spanish, said Morán.
"It was a really impressive festival despite the wind, which was very negative and caused an incredible amount of destruction," he added. "I don't know if many other festivals could have carried on - we worked through the night to repair things as best we could. We learnt that if you do things well, you can put up with a lot of adversity."
Juanco said every effort was made to reschedule the Kings of Leon concert during the festival, as happened with other acts that should have played July 17, but the band had a prior commitment in a festival in Switzerland. She said fans with July 17 tickets were able to change them for July 18 or 19 wristbands.
Meanwhile, Maraworld and Heineken Spain announced a three-year renewal of Heineken's sponsorship of FIB (Festival Internacional de Benicàssim) Heineken. Morán thanked the beer maker for its support during nine of the 15 years that Benicassim has staged the festival.