Sónar is an arts, design, and electronic and advanced music festival, founded in Barcelona in 1994 by Ricard Robles, Enric Palau, and Sergi Caballero. The festival has been divided into two parts since its inception: Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night, with Sónar+D, a three-day congress dedicated to Creativity, Technology and Business running concurrently since 2013. As well as the flagship event in Barcelona, Sónar hosts events around the world, with annual festivals currently taking place in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Reykjavik and Istanbul.
Artists to have performed at Sónar include: Björk, Thom Yorke, Jean-Michel Jarre, Duran Duran, Grace Jones, Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Kraftwerk, Gorillaz, New Order, Skrillex, Diplo, M.I.A., Chic, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Aphex Twin, Richie Hawtin and Laurent Garnier.
Writing in 2017, the New York Times states that “Sónar has built itself into a European institution... It’s a festival of the experimental and the crowd-pleasing, the subtle and the unsubtle, scaled from quiet small-auditorium performances to seismic stadium dance music.
Sónar was founded in Barcelona in 1994 as the “Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art”, by music journalist Ricard Robles and musicians and visual artists Enric Palau and Sergio Caballero. The first festival took place on 2, 3 and 4 June at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (Sónar by Day) and the Apolo club (Sónar by Night), with performances by Holger Czukay, Mixmaster Morris, Laurent Garnier, Sven Väth, Atom Heart, and Trans Global Underground, among others. This first event, which included the Record Fair and Technology Fair - the forerunner of what is now known as Sonar+D - was attended by nearly 6,000 people and 40 representatives of the Spanish media.
Over the next two years, the festival expanded considerably: the number of accreditation holders doubled in 1995 and tripled in 1996, and the number of visitors rose from 6,000 to over 12,000 in 1995 and 18,000 in 1996. Sónar by Night relocated in its second year, moving to various areas in the Poble Espanyol, where it was based in 1995 and 1996.