L Fest Del Mar takes place in La Manga, just outside Murcia, in Southern Spain, between 29 - 31 May.
Tickets: £99; accommodation from £8 pppn.
Having attended the first L Fest Del Mar in 2014, including the fringe festival throughout the following week, we went back to L Fest Del Mar this year knowing what to expect... or so we thought. With a change in venue, the second edition had enough changes to keep things interesting.
The location of La Manga is ideal. A narrow peninsular off the coast of Murcia (accessible via Murcia San Javier airport with flights from Gatwick, Luton and Stanstead every day), it feels like an escape from the real world daily grind. There's enough life with the locals and Spanish holiday makers so it doesn't feel like a ghost town but no cheesy holiday resort entertainment leaving the area feel like Benidorm.
La Manga is beautful - plain and simple, with a dual coastline throughout of the calmer and saltier Mar Menor and the wilder Mediterranean Sea and unbeatable sunsets nightly.
It is a short distance via water taxi or regular taxi to the La Manga apartments that are one of the settings for the festival.
The selected apartments, brokered through Pierre et Vacances are self catering, offering excellent value at approximately £10pppn (depending on how many share, and there are 1 bed, 2 bed and 3 bed apartments each with a balcony that offers a sea view or two) - they are clean, spacious and well equipped including dishwasher and washing machine alongside standard cooking facilities and a fridge/freezer combo (and it is possible to hire a hair dryer and iron/ironing board too).
More importantly, there are 3 lovely pools, two jet baths and direct access to a clean beach (Menor side). The pools are heated by the sun, and even at pre season May the sun is more than hot enough. The festival itself takes place in the final quiet pre-season week which is perfect timing. The apartments and pool do get busier later in the week as more and more regular holiday makers (usually families) arrive.
The main L Fest Del Mar parties take took place this year at a hired villa - aka the lesbian playboy mansion (and a move away from the private beach club further up the peninsular from last year).
Starting on the Friday night and carrying right on through to the wee hours of Monday morning, the setting offered a sense of space and privacy with split level access, outside roof top and beachside terraces, beds galore, space for massages and performers green room a bar and food options, rustic rather than sterile in style, and direct access to the beach with plenty of loungers (Med side).
This Year there was a shuttle bus option between the apartments and villa following feedback from last year. This worked well (although it was an additional ten euro charge).
The Friday night opening party allowed everyone to get the lay of the land with the villa, taking advantage of nooks and crannies. Solos (given green ready to mingle wristbands) and all were welcomed wth a pre drink at the apartment bar Dracula, before bussing down to the villa, decked out ready with sound systems and candles galore.
DJs Pauli (Norway) and Promiss (Holland) and co kept the party atmosphere buzzing all night through until 2am, with some mega drinking and dancing (although spirits and mixers were on the pricey side at €7 they were generous portions). The first night produced many sore heads for the next morning...
The villa opened again around 11am but with no urgency to get down there sharpish, instead allowing everyone to take it at their own pace. We stopped by the apartment pools and a refeshing swim helped clear out the hangover, and then mosied on down to the villa (we had a hire car which meant not relying on the shuttle coach) to catch some rays from the loungers, play beach volleyball, take part in power ballad innuendo yoga or salsa dancing, and for the football inclined watch Arsenal knock the hell out of Villa in the FA Cup Final. All whilst drinking mojitos and eating freshly cooked veggie paella. Class.
It was then back to the apartments for quick shower & change and dinner, before taking the coach back down to the villa for the Saturday night party.
With two live music acts: Rosie and the Pirates and a rousing Greymatter lined up to get the evening off to a fine start with their acoustic sets, followed by killer DJ tunes from DJs Hazel, Amy B (UK) and Ania Bruster (Spain) that kept the party going til around 5am!
Sunday was a little quieter, with two heavy nights under our belts things started a little slower but continued in the same vein. DJs Stersi (Croatia) and Highness (Norway) kept the mood chilled out.
Sunday night's live music was provided by Underground Annie (Norway) who delivered intense ballads on matters of the heart and life in Swedish and English (including a fantastic arrangment of Brandi Carlisle's The Story) and a Spanish 4 piece acoustic flamenco band Los Flacos, giving the sense of something more European than just brits abroad.
This was all just enough to take the Planet crew back to the apartments and enjoy the warm late night air with a skinny dip in the Menor sea. Beautiful.
Monday commenced the "fringe" activities, optional bolt on fun and games (at extra cost but only available to festival ticketholders), although they were subject to minimum numbers meanign the kayaking was unable to take place. We watched 'Submerge' on the inflatable cinema beachside with sangria, pizza and nachos, and had massages from the official L Fest Retreat masseuse (sorry no pics of this!).
Tuesday gave us a day to have a little drive down the peninsular coast and do some shopping (new bikini, why not?!) and to try a little snorkelling with Mandy who patiently guided us through the use of a snorkel and around the marine life of the Menor. Followed by karaoke on the marina - back by popular demand from 2014.
After a couple of days recuperation Wednesday was party time again and a private hire boat party allowed us to have the feel of the jetsetting life drinking beers and cocktails at sea, dancing topless to DJ PJ, and swimming off the boat (amongst some jelly fish!).
L Fest Del Mar is ideal for:
- A great value (and low cost) early Summer holiday with plenty of sun and fun in an excellent location
- Groups of friends who want more than just a beach holiday
- A very chilled out house party feel, with no pressure to do absolutely everything
- Live music by the beach
- Feeling safe being out abroad
- The feel of L Fest in the sunshine; mostly familiar faces but some new ones too including some ex-pat Brits living in Spain
- Pieters Restaurant for excellent quality food at reasonable prices
Further information: www.lfest.co.uk