Cala Mijas Festival 2023: The Three-Day Musical Odyssey

Beneath the radiant skies of Costa Del Sol, the Cala Mijas Festival 2023 emerged as a three-day musical odyssey that promised to ensnare the hearts of its attendees. With the allure of sun-drenched days, an extraordinary musical lineup, and the unmistakable charm of southern Spain and its people, the festival beckoned as an experience bound to leave an enduring imprint on all who gathered there. And, without a doubt, it delivered on that promise and passed with flying colours.

We arrived in La Cala de Mijas on Wednesday evening, a day before the festival started, which is what I recommend doing at festivals located in such beautiful surroundings. That’s why we had the chance to settle in our tent and take the bus from the camping site to the village and indulge ourselves with some local beer and delightful cuisine, which always makes me feel at home since my grandfather used to spoil me and my cousins with the recipes his mother taught him before they moved from Andalucía to Barcelona. Taking a walk along the shore guided by the Blue Supermoon, the biggest and brightest of the year, was surely a great start of the festival experience.


Thursday, August 31st, marked the festival’s grand opening, and it did so with a flourish. After a day at the beach, we kicked off the evening with Amaia, as we did at BBK Live, a Spanish songwriter and astonishing musician who set the tone for the first day with her deeply sensitive melodies and authentic personality. Later, as the sun began its descent, Arcade Fire took centre stage, captivating the audience with their genre-defying sound and with an impeccable selection of their greatest hits. Call me basic but, without a doubt, to me the best track was The Suburbs, I still remember when I discovered it in my emotionally intense teenage years and was like “Wow, this people get me.” A lot has happened since, but the song still manages to make me feel like that every time. 

After one of the most awaited performances, I ran to La Caleta stage, the electronic music stage surrounded by trees and with a giant dancefloor. Nicola Cruz brought an electronic mystique to the place, and I was lucky to get a glimpse of that before getting to the Sunrise stage to see Pablo Vittar, who delivered an impeccable show alongside the dancers and made us feel like we were attending a ballroom show in Brazil. I could picture RuPaul introducing the show like “Category is: Musical Extravanganzaaa”. Prosumer rounded off our night at La Caleta with an electrifying performance. If I didn’t have to wake up early the next day, rest assured I would’ve stayed until they kicked me out of the premises after the last show.


Brits, Aussies, Dutchies and people from all over the planet soaked up the sun and the music at the heartwarming festival, as if they were photosynthesizing. I believe Spaniards and the rest of Mediterraneans were the ones avoiding it the most, after the heat haves we had all over the summer. It was such a gift to be able to enjoy the daylight at the charming and spacious beach of El Torreón, were festivalgoers, locals and tourists merged to enjoy the free and local line-up by the beach.  

My day started off by having a coffee with the unique Ben Yart during an amazing interview you’ll be able to read in a few days. Then we enjoyed the feel-good set by Rocío Saiz by the beach. To be vibing so high with her tunes and energy after a swim was priceless and it brought a lot of us back to life after an intense first night of the festival. It was such a powerful set and, as she always does, she was in pursuit of the freeing of the nipple, tired of the censorship in both social media and in Spain in general. She joked about it, but she made it very clear what she advocated for. After that, Ben Yart delivered a funny, intense, and shameless performance, that kept the vibrations high after Rocío’s DJ set. 

A few hours later, after resting a bit and getting tidied up, we got to the festival site, called Sonora Mijas, for the local indie-pop band Cariño (meaning “darling” in English), which delivered a heartwarming performance at the same time as the setting of the sun.

Amyl & The Sniffers brought an infectious energy that set the crowd on fire, my Australian neighbours I met at the camping site made sure to be right in the middle of the mosh pits and let themselves go crazy with the punk sound and the rest of the enthusiasts. 

After that, I saw a little bit of Ouri’s experimental live set, and it was a great decision. I recommend watching her Boiler Room in Montréal. Nu Genea’s live band performance was, to me, a great easter egg in the festival. With a huge orchestra and great enthusiasm, the Italian duo combined the Italo-disco sound and house music with tribal and afro influences. It was such a great moment, and the first time in my life I saw a giant conga that didn’t make me cringe and without anyone forcing me to join because it was somebody’s birthday or wedding. I joined the jolly crowd and I actually enjoyed that moment a lot. That’s one of my favourite parts of festivals, the anonymity of a big dancefloor, for someone a bit shy when it comes to dancing, it was like hiding at plain sight. 

As dusk fell, I immersed myself in M83’s symphonic masterpiece of a set that left us in our feelings with their soundscapes and featured an amazing saxophonist who stole the show. The night continued to pulse with Call Super, the visionaries Acid Arab and the local band Playback Maracas with their live sets, keeping the dancefloors alive and vibrant. 


The final day began with a leisurely morning by the sea, complete with the quintessential Spanish iced coffee. Festivalgoers revelled in the laid-back atmosphere of the beach, accompanied by the melodic sounds of Safety Trance on the background. 

Metronomy’s arrival was met with an adrenaline rush, especially because me and my friend sprinted towards the sunset stage as soon as we heard the first distorted high-pitched chords of The Bay. Their performance was an exhilarating climax that kicked off our night. 

Florence + The Machine’s emotionally charged set, coupled with a discussion of her recent surgery, was a poignant festival highlight. If you ask me, it was the best concert of the festival. The singer interacted a lot with her passionate audience and was extraordinary during the whole performance. She seemed so grateful and so happy to end her tour like that. 

The discovery of Baiuca added to the festival’s charm, making the choice between their set and Belle & Sebastian’s a delightful dilemma. Oh, how I wish I could borrow the Time-Turner that Albus Dumbledore handed to Hermione Granger in The Prisoner of Azkaban to travel back and forth in time. I apologize for my nerdiness, but that would have been an absolute game changer.

The festival reached its zenith with The Blaze, Arca and La Élite, each offering a unique musical experience that left an indelible mark. After an incredible three days, it’s easy to say that Cala Mijas Festival 2023 not only lived up to its promise but exceeded all expectations. With just two years under its belt, it has already earned a reputation as one of the finest festivals in the circuit. The festival organization deserves a resounding 10/10 for its impeccable execution, from a stellar lineup to a seamless schedule that minimized overlaps, ensuring that attendees got the most out of every moment. Furthermore, their commitment to offering free local programming in the town showcases their dedication to the community and enhances the overall festival experience and its impact. On top of that, the logistics were meticulously planned, there weren’t long lines for anything, the prices were pretty good and the transport between the camping area, different points of the village and the festival area was frequent and fast. As summer bids farewell and we transition into the routines of daily life, Cala Mijas provides a perfect bridge, leaving us with charged spirits and lasting memories. Rest assured, if they continue down this path, which I think they will, they will set the standard for medium size festivals, both new and old. 

So, mark your calendars, for next year promises yet another opportunity to revel in the warmth of the Spanish sun and people, to dance until dawn, and to experience that inevitable “emotional hangover” that only the best festivals can deliver. I, for one, am already looking forward to it and wholeheartedly recommend that everyone joins the celebration next year.

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Words: Mar Rubio Boné
Photography: Sharon Lopez, Judith Næss