23 May 2011

Festival Club

Festival Club is being taken over by pine trees.
Up in the hills above the small town of Sant Josep lies an incredible monument to Ibizan overconfidence, it's name is "Festival Club" and it is a massive concrete ruin.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Mediterranean island of Ibiza began to embrace package tourism and in 1969 work started on this huge hillside development. The isolated location in the midst of a pine forest meant that the owners needed to construct an access road and connect the site up to the electricity grid. Upon completion in 1972 the spectacular hillside venue was named "Festival Club" ad opened to the public. In those days tourists were happy to be bussed about wherever the tour guides would take them and for a few summers in the early 1970s a holiday to Ibiza almost certainly meant a trip up into the hills near Sant Josep for an evening at Festival Club.

The Festival club amphitheatre, now in ruins.
This immense development featured an amphitheatre which hosted performance art and even mock bull fights, a large music venue at the top and in between there were several bars and a restaurant with rows of concrete tables lining the slope of the hill like contours. It was a popular venue with tourists and locals of all ages too but looking at it now, it is quite difficult to imagine it full of happy revellers and as a place that provided employment to dozens of people.

The good times at Festival Club did not last long and losses began to pile up in the wake of the 1973 fuel crisis which caused dramatic rise in airfares, discouraging tourists from taking foreign holidays and making it increasingly uneconomical to bus the few remaining tourists up into the hills and back again each night. The venue closed in 1974 after only two seasons in operation and never re-opened despite being on the market for many years.

The site is the graveyard to many a joyridden vehicle.
After 37 years of disuse the site is rapidly going to ruin. Vandals have wrecked some of the infrastructure but the majority of the major structural damage is being done by nature. Pine trees are growing up through the concrete all over the site and their roots are slowly tearing the place apart. The place is covered in Grafitti of varying degrees of interest from fine works of street-art to scruffy tags and pathetic scribble and the whole site is strewn with the remains of wrecked cars. It is beginning to resemble the set of some low budget post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller.

Festival Club has quite an has an intimidating atmosphere if you venture there alone but this opressive atmosphere is offset by the wonder of witnessing how nature is reclaiming the site and the spectacular scenic views.

According to court documents in the 1990s the site had deteriorated to such an extent that a naturalist group attempted to use the courts to force the owners of the site to clear it up however their application was denied and the owners exempted from maintaining the site after the court ruled that since it had been constructed with planning permission they were powerless to use planning laws to compel the owners to do anything. Given that there is no economic reason to clear the site and the courts have no interest in forcing the owners to maintain it, it seems that the place will continue to be attacked by vandals and subsumed back into the pine woodland that it obliterated over 40 years ago.

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1 comment:

  1. There is a similar abandoned complex on the edge of Alcudia in Mallorca. I also remember being bussed to a nightclub in a big cave outside Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife in the 1970s. I have been back to Tenerife more recently but no-one knew anything about it.