It’s just under a month to go until Spain’s, if not the world’s, best electronic festival beams down on Barcelona. Our resident dance music aficionado Kate Hutchinson picks out her second lot of highlights from this year’s event...

The newcomer: Offshore

Big Dada’s latest signing, London-based Scotsman Offshore, rocked Razzmatazz at Off Sonar last year with his glitchy Numbers-influenced hip-hop, jungle flourished, Warp-influenced electronica and deep bass-driven bangers - one of our group even crowned him as the UK’s answer to Diplo. But now he’s part of the festival proper, showcasing just what you can expect from his debut record on the label, ‘Pacer’, out this autumn, alongside fellow signings DELS, Shuttle and Eskmo. Get in the mood with his exclusive Sonar mix, featuring the likes of Guido, Redinho, Enchanté and Roll Deep.

The parties: Off Sonar

There are plenty still to be announced, but our pick for 2011 include the Highlife Sonar Beach Party, presented by ace Glaswegian party Huntley & Palmers Audio Club, Visionquest v Lola's aural sandstorm and The Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 live at Razzmatazz all on June 16 and the Bpitch Control Showcase Boat Party tops the lot on June 17. Here's the full list of Off Sonar parties.

The art: OFFFMàtica

There’s plenty more to explore than just international electronic sounds at Sonar. Sonar by Day can be a bizarre experience: there you are, getting steadily tipsy before the rave-in-an-aircraft-hangar later on, traipsing around one of the many gallery and museum spaces that make up the Sonar complex (Barcelona’s centre of contemporary art). This year, the art programme focuses on “the concept of the portrait” with interactive installation (in 2010, there were robotic dogs), printed design works and “online works”, which are only available on the web. Sound barmy yet? Wait till you read this: some of 2011’s pieces include ‘The Yelling Room’ by Joshua Davis, where you can paint a self-portrait based on the sounds you make, and Aram Barthol’s ‘0.16’, a light installation that turns your shadow into pixels. Go easy on the psychedelics, then…


The city: Barcelona

There are few better places than the Catalan capital for a festival: there’s great weather, divine food, a beach and a fantastic party spirit. Make the most of your trip and stay a few days either side of Sonar, if only to make the most of the hundreds of pre-parties and carry-ons that pop up around the capital. And don’t miss out on your five a day from the huge, kaleidoscopic market Boqueria, which is just a stone’s throw from the Sonar complex itself.


The stage: Red Bull Music Academy at SonarDôme presents

We couldn’t very well mention Sonar without slipping in that the RBMA crew are taking over the SonarDôme once more for hours upon hours of international new talent and DJ legends. The venue is the large tent to the left of the Sonar by Day complex, boasting a large outdoor area in which to soak up the sounds in the sun. Notable mentions go to mighty soundclash legend David Rodigan, queen of the UK underground Katy B, Manchester’s Hoya Hoya club’s luminescent resident Ilum Sphere, Star Eyes from NYC label camp Trouble & Bass, Teebs from Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder collective and so much more representing the most exciting labels from around the world.

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