The Starlite Festival in Marbella

by Thomas Harper

In just two editions it has become the cultural festival of reference in Europe, being compared to the Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Festival. The Starlight Festival, situated inside the quarry in Cantera de Nagüeles, in Marbella, is a month-long music and cultural event held between months July and August.

It is located in the most spectacular natural outdoor space surrounded by 60-metre high rock walls, which create an intimate atmosphere like a secret, hidden venue beneath the stars. It is the only club in the world inside a quarry and its auditorium only counts 2.200 seats where the audience lives a unique experience with the stars. Starlight also dedicates one night to philanthropy celebrating Starlite Gala which brings many politicians, intellectuals, and athletes. This has become the largest charity event in Spain and is hosted by Antonio Banderas.

The first use of the former quarry site, situated above Marbella, was in 1983. Alfonso Hohenlohe, who founded the Marbella Club hotel, and singers Julio Iglesias and Plácido Domingo, decided to create the Cantera de Marbella open-air auditorium and to found an internationally-renowned music festival. They held a successful Tenors concert, however, the annual festival didn't take off, and the venue was left abandoned for nearly 30 years, until 2012. The quarry was then cleaned up and a new auditorium created for the inaugural Starlite Festival.  

Access to the venue may be slightly complicated, but worth the effort. Except for VIPs, cars need to be parked a mile away and minibuses shuttle guests up and down the hill.

The festival set is different every year and has to be reconstructed each season. It is impressive, logistically, to appreciate that everything down to the last bottle of water, in this glamorous lounge and concert venue, has to be brought up the hill to the former quarry. In the main auditorium, VIP attendees sit in "Bubble Boxes" (eight-seater boxes) behind and elevated above the 15 rows of stalls and where waiters serve drinks during the concerts.

In the 2015 edition, we saw Andrea Bocelli, Sara Baras, Lionel Richie, Lenny Kravitz, Placido Domingo, India Martinez & Pitingo, Alejandro Sanz and Melindi.

In 2014 we hosted The Beach Boys, Ricky Martin, Tom Jones, The Pet Shop Boys and Kool & the Gang.

In 2013 those performing included Bryan Adams, Jaimie Cullum, Noa, Julio Iglesias, Buena Vista Social Club, Alejandro Sanz, Malú, Enrique Iglesias, Paco de Lucia, UB40 and David Bisbal.

Amongst many others, The Starlite Festival 2016 will be hosting Carlos Santana, Charles Aznavour, Tom Jones, Il Divo, Alejandro Sanz, and Malú.  


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