WORLD domination could be on the cards for Marbella’s favourite philanthropy festival, which makes a welcome return to the coast this month.
Although only in its third year, Starlite Festival is already famous for its celebrity and socialite appeal. But now, for the first time ever, those in the crowd will include potential sponsors from all over the globe.
“We want the festival to be like Formula 1, and move to different cities all over the world,” said Sandra Garcia-Sanjuan, who founded the star-studded festival with her husband, Ignacio Maluquer.
“It’s incredibly exciting this year, because we have delegations coming from as far afield as Russia, Mexico, Uruguay and the Middle East.”
The key to Starlite’s rocketing success is undoubtedly Garcia’s global connections. After running celebrity promotion company Avory for more than 20 years, her little black book is bulging with some of the best-known names in showbiz. Tom Jones, The Pet Shop Boys, Ricky Martin and The Beach Boys are all set to take the stage in the month-long festival.
But Garcia was the soul of diplomacy when asked whom she’ll be most excited to see.
“Every one of them will bring their own unique vibe to the festival. Many of them are old friends and I’m delighted to have them all on board. I decided the line up myself, so all the bands are special favourites of mine.”
But Starlite – which will kick off on July 23 – is considerably more than a conventional music festival, with fashion shows, cinema premieres, art exhibitions, speakers and fine dining.
Spanish superstar Antonio Banderas himself is the poster boy for the festival’s main event – the Starlite Gala on August 9.
“Having worked with celebrities throughout most of my career, I knew we needed Antonio onboard,” said Garcia. “Trying to set up a big event in Spain without a celebrity to back it will never work, so I flew out to meet him in Los Angeles and explain our idea.
“Luckily he loved it. He loves his country so much and he was so enthusiastic about the idea of giving something back. We’re very happy to have him on the team.”
The Gala – now in its 5th year – was the spark that inspired the entire Starlite Festival, which has a very philanthropic focus. And now the celebrity-fuelled fundraiser is to be televised for the first time ever, through a new partnership with TV-giant Mediaset Espana.
“It’s wonderful to get this sort of coverage for Marbella. It’s a very special place,” added Garcia.
“Although I live in Madrid, I have a summer house here and I just love it. And we couldn’t have found a more perfect location than the quarry.”
The Nagueles quarry provides a unique backdrop for the whole experience, setting Starlite apart from any other festival in the world.
Originally used by singer Julio Iglesias and Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe – a tireless promoter of Marbella – for a musical event in 1983, the quarry has been given a new lease of life with Starlite.
“It’s the most wonderful, intimate venue. People in the front row are only 2m away from the performers, and it’s incredible how close that feels in an auditorium setting. It’s like spending a night with the artist. It’s a totally different experience from anything else.”
Garcia herself is clearly buzzing with excitement. “There’s so much I’m looking forward to. I can’t wait for it all to get started.”