Benicàssim FIB and Rototom Festival: The unofficial and complete survival guide

Bludsh0t, Far Out’s Glastonbury expert, has taken the time to explain to you in mind-boggling detail how to do Benicàssim without ending up passed with sun stroke being pissed on by drunks showing off their t-shirt tan.

I’ve been to a few festivals in my time and I’ve spent a fair few days there puking uncontrollably, unable to leave my tent, so I’ve made this guide for you to learn from my mistakes.

What?

If you don’t know, Festival In Benicàssim (FIB) and Rototom Sunsplash are, wait for it, festivals in Benicàssim! But what the heck is a Benicàssim? 

Benicàssim is a coastal, holiday town in Spain about 266km south of Barcelona and 86km north of Valencia. It’s a fairly basic but large town with shops, restaurants and bars, a couple of supermarkets, and one hell of a dope beach. Twice a year it turns into one of Spain’s sickest festivals spots with FIB in mid July and Rototom Sunsplash in mid August. 

The awesome thing about having a festival here is you can forget about taking your mud encrusted wellies: this is a beach holiday by day and a rad festival all night, and I mean all night – some acts aren’t scheduled to start until 5:45am! They’re also much better value than British festivals, both for ticket prices and once you are there. So the general rules of a standard British festival go right out the window with these ones, hence the new guide. 

As it’s primarily not a British holiday-maker hot spot outside festival season, don’t expect the locals to be great at English.

Click here to buy tickets to Benicàssim Festival. 

The festival sites are in the glamorous location of an old car park to the west of the town. I know that doesn’t sound appealing but they make it look pretty cool, and it’s a fairly good site. It’s a bit of a trek to the beach, but the festivals run regular buses down there, which cost under €20 for the whole week, so it’s quite reasonable really. There’s also a supermarket and the main town area about 20 minutes walk from the festival.

The campsite is just over the railway tracks from the festival site and consists of a large patch of scorched dirt with a few almond trees dotted about that provide some, but not loads, of shade. There are also a shit ton of ants there which mostly just mind their own business but will invade your tent if there is just a crumb of food in it. Some of the campsite provide poles for hanging tarpaulins off for additional shade, which you will need to do.

The campsite also has a bar and reasonably priced cafe / restaurant, along with battery charging station and kitchen area with sinks for preparing your own meals, if that’s what you want to do (you don’t want to do that). The toilets in the camp area are actually pretty clean, but you will need to take your own bog roll. Next to these are the showers. There are outdoor, cold water showers, where most people are naked. There are male and female ones, but there is usually a queue for these so most people just go in the mixed ones and get it all out, after a couple of days in the sun, no one gives a shit anymore.   

Size-wise, it’s way smaller than Glastonbury, but probably about the same as Reading or Leeds festival. You can expect one main stage, with a loads of other smaller ones dotted about. Like Reading, or every other non-Glasto festival, you can take booze into your campsite, but not into the festival area.

FIB is more of a Dance / Indie festival with some big name headliners aimed much more at the cool kids and in particular British festival goers, where as Rototom is a Reggae / Dub festival is popular with an older, more European hippy crowd.   

FIB is defiantly more well-known over here, but as I get older I much prefer the more chilled out vibe of Rototom, and it’s a festival that deserves more recognition. 

FIB festival is a four-dayer, while Rototom is a whopping eight days! 

Click here to buy tickets to Benicàssim Festival. 

Which one should I go to?

If you’re young and going out with a load of mates to get smashed and party like text-book Brits abroad, go to FIB. If you’re slightly older or have maybe a smaller crowd and want some chilled out vibes, check out Rototom. That said, Rototom is still a big party, and they both go on all night, so it’s not for lightweights, but there’s something about it being an 8 day festival which means everyone’s more chilled out and not in a need to get smashed every night.

Pre festival prep: 

So once you’ve got your tickets, what else do you need to do? Unlike Glastonbury, you can quickly get around the site, so meticulously studying the Clashfinder isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s still useful as you have to buy programs so you may as well print one out beforehand. Other than that, start getting your tan on at home. It’s flipping hot out there, so build up a base layer while you can.

Assuming you are getting there by plane, you are going to have to factor in the cost of additional luggage if you want to camp. Unless, that is of course, you chose to purchase the Glamping option, which you should do. It’s €90 for a two person tent, but these are bigger than your usual two person tent, and they come with a ground mat and most importantly, some shade over the top. That might seem a little step but aside from the fact that the tent is already set up, so you don’t have to sweat like a pig putting yours up in the noon day sun after a 2.5 hour flight + transfers, you also don’t need to bring a tent on the plane which could save you a fair about of money on hold luggage costs, so factor that in if you are sitting on that fence about it. It’s also right next to the main campsite, so you’re not in the arse-end-of-nowhere.

Also there is the option of getting an apartment during your stay. This is less of a cheat than doing that at a UK festival, and can be a life saver if you’ve been hitting it big. Be warned though, prices can get very high around festival time if you don’t book in advance, and make sure you are somewhere quite central, as Benicàssim town is surprisingly big and you don’t want to have to factor in getting cabs to and from your apartment every day. 

I’ve done the full eight days of camping at Rototom and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, in fact you sort of miss that lifestyle once you leave.

Also remember there are roaming data charges here, so it’s a good idea to download a map of the area onto your phone before you go.

Click here to buy tickets to Benicàssim Festival. 

What you are going to need.

Think about this more as a beach holiday than a festival, so pack light.  The important thing to also remember here is that we’re not just stuck in a festival site all weekend, you will regularly be going into Benicàssim town and you can pick up almost anything you want from there but I haven’t come across a proper camping shop there yet, so take that shit with you.

Camping equipment: 

(Assuming you didn’t chose glamping)

Essential: Lightweight tent, ground mat, camo netting / tarpaulin, gaffatape, string, ultra lightweight sleeping bag or some sheets, pillow

Optional: Hammock, extra ground mat, space blankets

Nope: Heavy duty sleeping bag, cooking equipment

If you’re not glamping, you’re going to need a tarpaulin or better yet, some camo netting to use as shade. 

Even if you did choose glamping, this is not Kate Moss glamping, and is fairly basic. You will want an additional ground mat and pillow. This ground is rock hard. 

Hammocks are also good because, er hello, hammocks! Space blankets can be good if you don’t have that much shade. Simply gaffatape some to your tent to stop the worst of the sun turning it into a crematorium at half seven in the morning. They’re cheap as chips so you may as well get some. 

String is useful not only for putting up tarps but also for making washing lines. You’re going to be showering and swimming most days, so your towels and shit will need to dry out overnight.

No cooking stoves or any crap like that. Unnecessary hassle.

I’m not recommending you take a chair with you, but I do recommend you buy one from some of the little junk shops in the town. They’re about €10 and well worth it for around the site. Just chuck ‘em out when you’re done.

Clothing: 

Essential: swimming gear, beach towel, additional towel, as many t-shirts, pants and socks as days you’re there for, shorts, thin cotton long-sleeve shirt, thin cotton trousers, one jumper, flip-flops / sandals, hat, beach bag, sunglasses

Optional: Erm more beach stuff

Nope: Wellies, water proofs

Bring what you’d take on a normal beach holiday. I’m recommending taking long-sleeve shirt and cotton trousers purely for the reason that you’re an idiot and you’re going to get sunburned, and when you do, these will be a life saver.

Strangely I have actually been there where in the evening it’s been cold enough to wear a jumper, so take one just in case.

No need for wellies or water proofs.  If it does rain, it’ll dry up in about 15 minutes so don’t worry about it.

Toiletries. 

Essential: Toothbrush, toothpaste, antibac gel, flushable wet wipes, sun cream, deodorant, Berocca, paracetamol, bug spray, shower gel /shampoo /soap, talcum powder

Optional: Sea / travel sick tablets, ear plugs

Nope: Razors

Fairly obvious toiletries really. Remember, unlike a British festival, you are going to be showering, so take shower gel or soap. 

Bug spray can also be useful as the campsite has ants, and there my be one or two mosquitos around.

Ear plugs can be good as the festival goes on until about 7am and the campsite is really close to the stages. They are loud and you will want ear plugs if you plan on getting any sleep before the music stops.

Don’t fuck about with suncream, get factor 30 minimum. We not trying to get a tan here and sun burn is a bitch in a tent. 

Click here to buy tickets to Benicàssim Festival. 

Electrical devices:

Essential: Phone

Optional: Second phone, battery pack, torch

Nope: Tablet or laptop

It’s quite a small festival and you don’t tend to get split up too much so always having a charged phone on you isn’t a massive deal.  At the campsite they also have battery packs that you can hire with a deposit so you can charge your phone on the go. Easy really. 

Again if you are camping, you may not want to bring that £800 iPhone with you and don’t forget about roaming charges. Take a cheap one with you. I’d still recommend a smart phone just in case you do need to change flight details or whatever. There are internet cafes in the town but they can get busy during the festivals.  

As for taking your own battery packs, eurogamer.net did a great review of some recently and the one in the link bellow came out tops for light weight and portable. 

The lighting in some parts of the campsite can be a bit ropey so a torch can be useful, but in reality, you’re going to be raving until the sun comes up most of the time.

Money

Budget for about £40-50 per day. That includes getting stuff from the supermarket and buying beers at the festival site.

 

Surviving the festival:

How to get there.

Plane is the easiest. Flights to Barcelona are usually a lot cheaper than Valencia, but on a personal level I prefer Valencia as a place to be if you’re planning to see a bit more than just the festival. Once you’re in either Valencia or Barcelona, you can get the pre-arranged coach that takes you all the way there from the airport on the first day, which is fine, or you can get the train. The train is actually cheaper than the coach and the subway will take you to the main station from the airports. Also the festivals often offer discount vouchers for the trains during festival time, so google this before you go. Train is probably a bit faster too and the service runs about every hour on Monday – Saturday, but is worse on Sunday. When you arrive at Benicàssim station, you can either wait for a shuttle bus or walk. Walking will take about 25 minutes. Turn right out of the station, then first left and then head right onto the highway. Make sure you stick to the right of the highway when walking, as there isn’t a proper path so watch out for cars. 

If you get the shuttle bus from the station, see if you can get an all festival bus pass from the driver, as you will need this for the rest of the week. If you can’t, get one from the info point outside the main festival ticket booths, right near where the busses drop you off.

When to get there: 

So you’re unlikely to get there in the morning due to travelling time and I wouldn’t recommend getting there during the afternoon on the first day as the queue to get your wrist bands can take ages at that time in the scorching sun. Aim to get there after five when the queues and the heat have died down a bit. 

Choosing a camp spot. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 13.46.16

The campsite isn’t anything like as big a Glastonbury, so location is less of an issue. What you’ll want is trees or shade. Also look out for any lines on the floor. These are ant trails, and even if they are not using them that day, they might the next, and they can fuck up your tent real quick. 

The toilets in the campsite have regular cleaners so aren’t as much of an issue as Glasto ones and they generally don’t smell too bad. The ones in the festival site are a bit worse, but still ok.

There is also more space, so feel free to set your tents up with a bit of a communal area in the middle. Just make sure you get your tarps to cover the tent and your communal area.

FIB also have a VIP camping area in town near the Lidl and Burger King, but it’s not really any nicer than the standard camping, and you will have to get shuttle busses to the beach and festival from there.

Now what?

So you’ve got your wrist bands and the camp is set up so it’s time to hit it! It’s probably around 6pm now so forget about going into town to buy some crap, just get your arse into the festival. Food is a bit cheaper in the campsite, but not by much.  You can get a beer at the campsite too, and it’s one of those buy a cup for €1 first, then buy refills until you get your deposit back. This operates thought the festival and campsite, but they won’t let you into the festival if there’s beer in your cup, so down it! 

Once you’re in the festival site, just party.  It’s not like Glastonbury where you have to organise your whole day with fire teams and shit.  When you leave the campsite, remember to take your rubbish with you so won’t come back to a new ant mecca in your tent.

For FIB, just have a wonder around and check out what you like, but for Rototom, I’d recommend seeing the dancehall dance classes, which are usually at about 10pm and way better than they sound, then head to the Dub Academy in the early hours for some monged out hypnotic beats.

The worst thing about these festivals is because they are quite small and they cramp a lot of stages in, you get a fair bit of sound clash. There’s not a great deal you can do about this except for sticking close to one stage at a time.

Food wise, the quality and price inside the festival is pretty good. Last year they had a Pizza place with three ovens cooking eight pizzas each all night. They don’t cook them to order, they just make a load of different ones and once they’re ready you pick the one you want, and it’s €6 per pizza. Decent. 

Aside from the main bars there’s also a craft beer stall which costs €1 more than the standard beer but is well worth it. There are also cocktail places but these tend to be a bit overpriced. 

Getting drugs whilst in or around the festival site is going to be nigh on impossible. You might get lucky, but on the first night you may as well just stick with booze and forget about it.

If you’re a legend, like me, you’ll probably be heading back to your tent around about the 6.30am time, which is great until you start seeing that sun come up and wondering if you will ever get any sleep again. The good news(ish) is you will probably get to about 8.30am before you’re roasted alive in your tent. But don’t panic! This is all part of the new life you will be leading for the next few days, and there is a workaround. 

The beach. It’s important to get up now, even though you are still pissed and totally knackered, pack a beach bag and head to the shuttle bus stop as early as possible. The beach will be much cooler than the campsite, and you can swim.

Getting around the town and to the beach:Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 13.45.11

The best way to get from the festival into town or to the beach is on the regular festival shuttle bus. They start running from about 9am until 8pm, and if you haven’t got your all festival pass yet, get it now. 

For FIB there is only one bus route but for Rototom there are two. One that goes into town and to two different beach locations, and the other goes to the The Solé bar.  At Rototom, they have beach parties everyday, but the location changes each day, so check before you leave. The standard blue bus route will only take about five minutes to get to the main town, with lots of shops, a supermarket, internet cafes, etc. The next drop off point is Playa Heliopolis, which has a smaller supermarket, (with a secret free toilet), and various bars and restaurants. The beach here is ok, but slightly narrow. This place is more lively than the next beach stop, Playa Torre San Vicente. This also has a supermarket just up form the beach, and a few restaurants, but generally has a more chilled out vibe, and a nicer beach.   

You can walk to the beaches, but it’s at least 45 minutes and you are going to need to save your energy.

The next drop off point on the buses is the Lidl and FIB VIP camping, then it’s back to the main town supermarket and back to the festival. If you are getting on the bus at the main town, always ask the driver if they’re going to the festival or the playa as it can get confusing here.

The Solé bar is ok but there is literally nothing else there, so I’d only recommend going there if there is a gig on you really must see. The buses only run once an hour there too. 

There is a water park right across the road from the festival, but this is very expensive and not really worth it unless you plan to spend all day there.  Right next to it is a Go Kart place too, although why you’d want to go Go Karting with the hangover you’ve got is beyond me.

At the beach:

Once you get dropped off I’d recommend heading to the supermarket and getting a cheap cool box, some ice, more beers along with water and some breakfast / lunch food.  Sangria can also be a decent pick-me-up, and the gazpacho soap can really help with a hangover. Unsurprisingly, the beers and shit here are way cheaper than the little shops on the beach. You should also get a beach umbrella for shade unless you plan on getting sun loungers when you’re at the beach. Shade is the key at this point as the beach is now going to be the main place we sleep at this festival.

Swimming is also one of the best ways to kill a hangover. If you are feeling ropey, get your arse in that sea and swim for 15 minutes. You’re guaranteed to feel better after that. Now we are at the beach, this is one of the places you may be able to get drugs from. Those looky-looky guys that wonder around don’t just make money selling fake sunglasses and stolen watches, you get me. The quality of the drugs will be very hit and miss, mostly miss, so if you really must get something I’d recommend just getting a very small amount first and getting the guy’s number, so if it’s OK you can get some more the next day.  There aren’t usually drug testing stations at the festival so just take the tiniest amount when you’re sober and wait at least an hour and a half before having any more to test the strength. The last thing you want when you’re on holiday is to end up in hospital or jail or dead. That will ruin your’s and your mates’ holiday. Keep your wits about you if you do this, as festival goers do get mugged and remember, drugs are illegal here too, so don’t be a dickhead. There are quite a few police wondering around. To be honest, getting a bit of hash or weed is usually fine, but I’d steer clear of anything else and just stick to the booze. It’s not really worth the effort or risk. 

You’ll want to be heading back to the campsite about 5ish as this is the best time to get yourself a nice refreshing cold shower, but if there is a big act playing that night, make it earlier. Get to the supermarket first and grab some more beers and snacks before you go but only buy stuff you are going consume that day! You do not want half empty packets of food in your tent as the ants will sniff this out and turn it into some sort of horror show in about 30 seconds. There should be a ‘no food in the tent’ rule at all times here. Bear in mind when a big act hits town, the traffic can get really bad, making your 15 minute trip back to the campsite closer to 2 hours. 

Rinse and repeat:

Once back and you’ve showered up, this is the best time for a quick chill at the campsite. The blazing sun will be setting and the festival will have started, but there’s no need to get in there early really. Then when you’re ready, repeat yesterday’s ‘bants’. Done. 

Getting home:

So it’s all done. You’ve got some pretty bad sun burn, and hopefully just temporary tinnitus, but it’s been fucking aces. Now all you’ve got to do is get back. The coach times are fairly reliable and will leave without you, so make sure you get there on time. Trains are normally good but Sunday service reduces them to only a few a day which will get packed out so be careful. You could of course spend some more time in Benicàssim, and there are other campsites, but you’ll probably be all camped out by now. Other than that, it’s fairly straight forward. Packing up a tent in the blazing sun can be a bit minging so you might want to get up a bit earlier or stay up and do it then. 

Well that’s it folks. Thanks for reading, hopefully this guide will help you on your epic trip. Don’t forget to click on those amazon links and buy some crap because when you do a fairy will get her wings. Peace.

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