I recently went to Primavera Sound Porto, Portugal. This was my first music festival outside the UK, and it was a brilliant experience. Read on to find out what makes Primavera Porto so good and find out if upgrading to a VIP ticket is worth it.
I paid for my trip to Primavera Sound Porto myself. This post contains a few affiliate links – all that means is that if you buy something as a result of clicking on a link in the post, I’ll receive a small commission that helps me with the costs of running this site. Thanks!
About Primavera Sound Porto
Primavera Sound Porto is the Portuguese edition of the legendary Primavera Sound festival. Primavera Sound (often referred to as just Primavera) has been held in Barcelona since 2001 and attracts big names like Pulp, Björk, Kendrick Lamar, Pixies and PJ Harvey, along with up-and-coming bands from a wide range of music genres.
Primavera Sound Porto had its first edition in 2012, and since then Primavera has expanded to hold versions of the festival in Madrid, Los Angeles, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Asunción and Sāo Paulo.
Each version of the festival has its own lineup, and they vary in size, attendance and length. There’s usually a significant crossover between the acts that perform, particularly with Barcelona, Madrid and Porto, and again with the Central and South America festivals.
In 2023, around 45,000 people went to Primavera Sound in Porto (compared to 253,000 for Barcelona). About 30% of visitors came to the festival from outside Portugal.
Primavera Sound Porto is a smaller version of Primavera Barcelona, with fewer acts performing, but what it loses in the lineup, it gains from being more chilled out and easier to navigate. Primavera Porto’s beautiful setting, cheaper accommodation prices, and a generally more relaxed feel make it a great option for a festival break in Europe.
Reasons to go to Primavera Sound Porto
1. It’s small, but still gets great acts
The big attraction for me at Primavera Sound Porto was Pet Shop Boys. I’ve loved them since I was a kid, but missed out on tickets for their arena dates in the north of England.
I happened to look at the tour website to see if they were playing anywhere interesting in Europe that I could combine with a little holiday (we’ve done this before when we went to see Fleetwood Mac in Berlin) and happened to see that they were playing Porto. Then I checked out the Primavera website and saw that Blur were playing too and that was it, we were booked and off to Porto.
What makes a great lineup is of course totally subjective but there’s a good mix of genres across the weekend and the combination of Pet Shop Boys, Blur and New Order (a late addition) made it unmissable for me.
Tickets for Primavera Porto don’t tend to sell out until just before the festival, so you have a bit of time to decide if the lineup is worth it for you. If you want the full Primavera experience, with every headliner and all the smaller acts, then you should go to Barcelona, but if you’re happy with a more edited experience, then Porto is a brilliant alternative.
2. The setting is beautiful
Primavera Sound Porto takes place in the north-west corner of the city’s Parque da Cidade, one of the largest urban parks in Europe.
The park is on the Atlantic coast (you can see the sun setting into the ocean behind the main Porto stage) and is just across the road from a stunning wide, sandy beach.
The entrance, food court and the main stage are on a mostly concrete area called the Queimódromo do Porto, but the other three stages (Super Bock, Vodafone and Plenitude) are inside the grassy part of the park. Each one of the stages in the park is in its own natural amphitheatre so everyone gets a decent view. For less popular acts you can even sit on the grass to watch them.
Inside the park there are nice walkways, trees, lots of places to sit and relax between sets and even water features.
3. You can combine Primavera Sound in Porto with a city break
I’d already visited Porto, but I was very pleased to be going back to this lovely city. Porto is the very definition of the perfect city break; gorgeous scenery, loads to do, great food and a lovely atmosphere.
We’d been out to the seaside at Foz do Douro, at the mouth of Porto’s river, but this trip was my first time visiting Matosinhos, a little further up the coast. I was amazed that there was such a beautiful beach so close to Porto – wide, with soft, pale yellow sand and great views of the ocean.
Porto is also a great base for day trips to the “Venice of Portugal”, Aveiro, the historic cities of Guimarães and Braga, and trips to the Douro valley wine region.
4. It’s easy to get to (and home from)
Parque da Cidade, the location for Primavera Porto, is around 5 miles or 7.5km from the centre of Porto. That’s a bit of a trek on foot, but the public transport to get people to and from the festival site seemed pretty well organised.
We left after the headliners finished on two of the nights (so peak time for people leaving) and there were buses lined up waiting to take people back into the centre of Porto.
You can also get to the festival site on Porto’s excellent modern tram system, the Metro, which has a stop around 15 minutes’ walk away from the entrance.
We’d originally planned to stay in Porto city centre in an apartment as we had done for our last trip to Porto, but once we realised that festivals in Spain and Portugal go on until the early hours, we swapped to a hotel in Matosinhos.
There are a few hotels within walking distance of the festival site; the Four Points Matosinhos is the closest, but you’ll need to be either very quick or very lucky to get a room over the Primavera weekend.
Two other good options in Matosinhos are the Harbour Inn Design Townhouse, and the Eurostars Matosinhos, which has a pool, spa and gym for lazing away the afternoon before it’s time to head to the site.
5. It’s family-friendly
Apart from the late nights, Primavera Sound in Porto seemed pretty family-friendly, and I saw lots of children of all ages. In 2023, children aged 9 and below got in free with a paying adult. If your children are aged 10 to 15, they’ll need their own ticket but will still need to be accompanied.
Because there aren’t all that many people at Primavera Porto and it’s a big space, there’s lots of grassy areas for children to run about.
The Porto City Hall provided a dedicated space for families at the festival, with a children’s bathroom, a nappy changing area and activities for children on the themes of environmental awareness and the city of Porto.
6. The weather is (mostly) really nice
Porto’s June sunshine and a nice breeze off the sea keeping temperatures in the warm-but-not-scorching range is the perfect combination for a music festival. That said, Porto does get quite a lot of rain, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for showers as well as sun.
When I went to Primavera Porto in 2023, the weather forecast looked pretty bad, with rain predicted for all four days. In the end, only one day had significant rain.
On the Thursday night, the heavens opened and there was torrential rain for several hours. There wasn’t anyone we playing that we were desperate to see, so we went back to the hotel – another advantage to staying nearby. The following day was damp but better, so we packed our (small) umbrellas and went in.
I had brought old trainers for muddy days, expecting them to get ruined, but it reallly wasn’t that bad. Because some of the site is paved, and the rest is a public park with paths, it does ok in the rain – there was no Glasto-style mud-fest!
The worst place for mud was in front of the main stage, where the rain had run down off the paved Queimódromo do Porto area. For some reason, the wet ground was really stinky with a sort of manure-y smell, and it stayed that way for the rest of the weekend.
Some of the stalls on site sell ponchos, but they were really expensive at around 12 euro, so if you’re coming to Primavera Porto, bring waterproofs. Small umbrellas (the sort that fold away and fit into a small bag) were allowed at the security checks, but large ones were confiscated.
7. It’s pretty clean
I’m going to caveat this by saying that my other festival experiences have been in the UK, and that Primavera Porto was my first international music festival, so perhaps everywhere outside the UK is like this, but I found Primavera pretty clean.
The festival uses reusable drinks cups, so your first drink has an extra 1 euro fee, but it means you don’t get that crunch of plastic beer glasses under your feet at the stages. We were so pleased with our Mateus Rose reusable wine glasses that we brought them home. There were plenty of bins and I hardly saw any litter.
We had VIP tickets (more on that below), with access to the VIP area’s toilets, but the other toilet blocks dotted around the site all seemed pretty clean. I didn’t experience any toilet-based horrors.
8. The VIP option is great
I do feel really guilty about this, as I’m usually pretty egalitarian, but I did think that the extra fee for a VIP ticket was worth it.
A friend won VIP tickets for Leeds Festival a few years ago and the nice experience (there were flowers in the toilets!) has kind of ruined me. There weren’t any flowers in the toilets at Primavera Porto’s VIP area, but it was a good package and if we go back, I’ll get VIP again.
VIP tickets at Primavera Sound Porto in 2023 included:
- a dedicated desk for getting your wristband – we didn’t have to queue at all
- a Primavera Porto cotton tote (which you could also buy at the merch stands, it wasn’t really anything special)
- a souvenir book
- a 15 euro bar credit on the wristband
- entry into the VIP area, which was next to the main Porto stage – no other stages had a VIP area
The VIP area had:
- an under-cover bar (good for when it rained)
- marginally nicer toilets with soap, paper towels (sometimes) and slightly shorter queues
- a terrace with a good view of the main stage
- access to an area right in front of the main stage
While the bar was nice and the toilets were ok, the big benefit with VIP was the terrace and the area in front of the main stage. I’m a bit of a fainter and get stressed in crowds, so I would never risk standing for hours to be at the front for a performer. I’m also not particularly tall so if I end up standing behind someone who is, I’m not going to see anything.
The VIP area meant we could get really close to the stage for Pet Shop Boys and Blur – we were there about 30 minutes before Pet Shop Boys started and were one row back. We were a little later for Blur but I could still see really well. For a couple of non-headliners we started off on the terrace and moved down to the stage when we started really enjoying it.
The stage layout in 2023 was different to previous years, when the main stage had been in the grassy area. For 2024, the organisers have said that the main stage will stay where it was this year, so I’d expect that the VIP area will be similar too.
When is Primavera Sound in Porto 2024?
In 2023, Primavera Sound Porto was held the weekend after Primavera Sound Barcelona, from Wednesday 7 June to Saturday 10 June.
In 2024 the Porto festival will be held between Friday 7 June and Sunday 9 June. Luckily Monday 10 June is a bank holiday for Portugal’s National Day so the last day won’t be a school night – excellent planning there by the organisers!
I hope you’ve found this guide to Primavera Sound Porto useful – perhaps I’ll see you there!