UPDATE 12/05/20: Organisers have confirmed Mad Cool Madrid 2020 will be postponed until at least 2021. MadCool 2020 festival postponed. Mad Cool festival Madrid.
In July 2019, I took a flight from Tenerife to Madrid to go to MadCool (Mad Cool) festival for the first time. I already had an idea what to expect from Spanish festivals having been to Benicassim’s FiberFIB a few times in the past but really had no clue about MadCool. Read on for a few tips on how to make the best of this fantastic festival, held on the outskirts of Europe’s greatest party city. Scroll past the booking deals for a review.
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Mad Cool festival camping
First things first – and important to know – MadCool is not a traditional festival with campsite on the doorstep. Rather, you stay in Madrid city and commute out to the site (which is a fair hike from the city centre). There’s a wealth of accommodation options in Madrid ranging from budget dorm rooms up to five-star opulence. Use the booking form above to find the widest range of places of stay at the full range of prices.
Personally, any time I’m in Madrid, I’ve stayed in cheap hostels – albeit in a single room as I don’t particularly like sharing my room at night. Madrid has a massive range of pension hostels located right in the city centre. They’re convenient yet cost a fraction of the price of a hotel. In a city that really doesn’t come alive til after midnight, there’s very little point wasting money on an expensive room you’ll barely stay in. Perhaps more to the point, MadCool goes on til early morning. You’ll barely be in your room.
Getting to Mad Cool from Madrid
Obviously, get yourself to Spain – specifically – Madrid. Getting to the festival itself all depends where you start from but, in general, taking the metro is probably the easiest route. It means a longer walk near the festival – but nothing major – 15 minutes or so. By metro, you’ll want to get to Nuevos Ministerios – probably going via Tribunal first (though, as stated, it really does depend where you start). From Nuevos Ministerios, take the pink line 8 in the direction of the airport. You need to get off one stop before the airport at Feria de Madrid. Follow the throngs from here. You can’t go wrong. It’s about a further 15 minutes walk to the gate from the subway station.
If you’re keen to arrive at a particular time (or, more likely, for a particular act), you should probably factor in a journey time of at least an hour (again, depending on where you start from). The other option is via train to Valdebebas on the main C-1 line. This has connections from Atocha and Chamartin (the two biggest rail stations in Madrid) as well as from the airport.
Getting back to Madrid after Mad Cool
Getting to Mad Cool festival is easy compared to getting home. You would think with an event this large the powers that be would keep the metro running at least part of the way back into Madrid – sadly, no. There are buses – though they are rammed full. Your only other option is an Uber – which costs in the region of 50€ back into town. Another idea is to try and find others going your way and sharing the cost. Doing that meant my trip back on Thursday night cost just 10€.
When is Mad Cool?
As with previous years, the 2019 Mad Cool started Thursday night and ran through to Saturday night with a huge number of bands playing across 6 stages. There was also a ‘welcome party’ on the Wednesday night which involved a ticket upgrade – but the line-up wasn’t that enticing. It’s worth remembering, Mad Cool only started in 2016 but, in that has time, has grown to become a serious contender in the European festival scene. All previous editions have taken place in the first/second week of July.
What is the demographic at Mad Cool?
All ages, all sorts. Old and young mingle freely – though it’s refreshing to not just be surrounded by gap year students (Benicassim has turned a bit like that these days, unfortunately).
Food and drink prices at Mad Cool
In 2019, a large beer from the main tents set you back 10€ (11€ for the first which includes your plastic glass – so don’t throw it away). Other drinks are an equally high price. It’s annoying when festivals do this after you’ve already paid a fairly hefty amount for the ticket. Food ranged around the 8€-12€ mark – mainly burgers, kebabs, pizza slices, noodles etc. Pretty much all the stuff you’d expect at a festival. If you want a take-home memento, a t-shirt will cost you around 30€.
Is the VIP area at Mad Cool worth it?
For once, the VIP area actually looked well organised and something you might be worth spending money on. Also, it’s not in the back of beyond. MadCool’s VIP area is lined up alongside the right side of the main stage – so pretty much perfect if the acts you want to see are playing there. If not, it’s much too far away from the other stages (though you could see across to the Madrid Te Abraza stage – even if it’s highly unlikely you’ld be able to hear anything).
What time does Mad Cool start and end?
You’re in central Spain in the middle of July. Under the blazing sun, it’s too hot for anything to happen during the day. You’ll find the first acts don’t come on til around 18.30 – and even then, it’s pretty warm. The main acts tend to be placed between 22.00 and 02.00 – with the final acts playing til around 04.30.
Advantages of Mad Cool over other festivals
In a nutshell – the biggest advantage is not having to stand at stages between acts. This is a huge factor. Normally at a UK festival, you have to hang around all day at the main stages to stand any chance of being anywhere near the front for the main acts. Not so at Mad Cool. As one band is setting up on the Main Stage, another will be playing on the Madrid Te Abraza stage just to the side meaning there’s a constant ebb and flow of people going from one stage to another.
Probably another factor is it’s too hot to just stand around waiting for bands. Instead, people either go to see other bands or get food / drink during set changes. The philosophy of taking turns is probably best exemplified in the Consequence of Sound / Mondo Sonoro tent which features two stages facing one another. As one band is setting up, another is playing at the opposite end of the tent. Such a great idea.
Where to stay at Mad Cool festival
Madrid is a huge city with all types of accommodation, in all price ranges. A cheap hostel (shared) will cost about 10€ a night – 25€ if you prefer to have your own room. As for hotels, really, there is no set price – you can spend as much or as little as you want, from high-end luxury to more budget pricing.
For convenience, try and find somewhere with easy metro/train access. The city is vibrant and, if you’re here for a few days, you’ll probably want to be somewhere relatively central to take in the sights and soak up the culture. If your main attraction is just the festival itself, it might be worth looking at accommodation nearer the site. As mentioned above, getting back into Madrid at night is difficult.
Where to buy Mad Cool tickets
Ticketmaster.es and Festicket.com are both authorised resellers. There may be others but online ticket scams are rife and real these days and these are two companies I’d personally recommend (from my own experience).
Cost of Mad Cool tickets
The 2019 ticket cost 187€ for three days. There is also an option to upgrade for the ‘welcome’ party on the preceding Wednesday night.
A summary of Mad Cool festival
I said after my first year at Benicassim I really couldn’t understand why people still do UK festivals. I still don’t Yes, you might get lucky and get good weather but there are so many factors that come into play with the UK climate that it really is a lottery.
Mad Cool is incredibly well organised (apart from the late-night buses back to town) and good weather is virtually assured in Madrid in July. Even if it were to rain, they have a thick layer of astroturf across the entire site – meaning the typical UK mudfest would be unlikely.
Most staff have (at very least) basic English but you’ll find you’re surrounded by Brits anyway – while most of the big-name acts are from the UK or US so are English-speakers anyway. Yes, the on-site food and drink prices are a bit of a rip-off – but what festival isn’t like that these days? If you’ve never tried a Spanish festival, give it a go. It’s very likely you’ll never look back.
Video: The official MadCool “Aftermovie”
Images from MadCool festival Madrid 2019
Music: MadCool 2019 Spotify playlist
The fine, fine people at MadCool put together a playlist of the best bands appearing this year. Have a listen. For a festival which has only been running three years, this really is a mighty line-up. See below for the line-ups from previous years.