The 2008 Rock in Rio festival is to be held for the first time in the Spanish capital, Madrid, organizers have confirmed.

The giant concert event will be staged over two weekends, from June 27 to 28 and July 4,5 and 6, near the town of Arganda del Rey (population 45,000), some 20 kilometers from central Madrid.

Moreover, the festival will be twinned with a previously-announced Lisbon, Portugal leg, making it the first time Rock in Rio will be held in two countries in the same year. Rock in Rio Lisbon is to roll out over five days in May and June 2008.

To date, the event has taken place just five times; in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1985, 1991 and 2001, and in Lisbon in 2004 and 2006, and has attracted a total of four million festiva-goers. The 2006 festival included performances by Red Hot Chili Peppers, the re-formed Guns N' Roses and Roger Waters performing "Dark Side of the Moon"

During a launch event Tuesday (Feb. 6) in Madrid, Rock in Rio founder Roberto Medina said some €30 million ($39 million) will be invested in the Spanish festival, for which a 200,000-square meter "Rock City" is to be built. The event is expected to attract 100,000 people each day.

Medina says, "We expect top international stars to perform, as in the past". Organizers expect some 20 international artists to perform on the World Stage at the Spanish Rock City, and 25 local stars to play at the Spanish Stage. There will also be an Electronic Big Top venue where 25 top DJs will play "everything from samba to rock", and a so-called Radical Zone, featuring an ice-skating rink, a snowboard area and other sports.

The only confirmed artist for the Madrid event in Spain's Miami-based pop star Alejandro Sanz. Sanz has also been appointed "social ambassador" for the event's social cause, which in 2008 will involve raising awareness of climate change and the need to reduce toxic gas emissions.

Sponsors will have a pivotal role, Medina says, and will be named in due course as will the artists. Brands sponsoring the five previous festivals have included Vodafone, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, Toyota, British Petroleum and America Online.

Artistic VP for Rock in Rio Madrid is Gay Mercader, who in December sold his Gamerco concert promotion company to Live Nation in the United States. Asked by Billboard.biz if this meant Live Nation will be involved in the Madrid festival, Gamerco said, "Part of the deal was that I would retain total independence. Roberto Medina is the creator of all this, and there is no conflict at all. Neither Live Nation or anybody else will be deciding anything."

Rock in Rio's executive VP Roberta Medina (the founder's daughter) says the main social theme of the festival will be a program called Carbon Zero. "We will reduce our own emissions during the setting up, staging and dismantling of the festival, and compensate for the amount of carbon dioxide we send into the air. In Lisbon last year we planted 19,000 trees after Rock in Rio".

She said between 2%-5% of entry income will be spent on education programs on climate change for Spanish children and youth.