by Rose Maramba


Empty as only a classroom in summer could be!

When school is out for summer and the campus is emptied of students, it could happen – and does – that music would flow into the vacuum, calling people back that they might give a listen to music. This is what’s happening at the Complutense University now. With its 86,000 students gone for vacation, the university’s  Alfonso XIII Royal Botanical Garden is converted to an open-air auditorium during the warm and fragrant nights. Forget the classrooms! Let the music flow. Rock. Soothe.  Vibrate.

Aerial view of the Complutense

The Botanical Garden, a.ka.a el Jardín Botánico Complutense, is wedged between the  Colleges of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences. It has an area of 50,000 m2 (more than 12 acres) and over eight hundred botanical species.

The large central circus area in the garden is where the Festival Noches del Botánico (Nights of the Botanical Garden) takes place.

The festival is on its fifth year, featuring, as has become characteristic, national and international musicians.

Noches was last held in 2019.  More than avid 65,000 fans, blissfully unaware that the pandemic was lurking in the bushes, came to watch and listen to the likes of Woody Allen, Jane Birkin and Michael Bolton. Alas, the 2020 festival had to be canceled, popular though the Noches has become.

This year, though, many are just so tired of being too too too careful of the virus and with 18 million of the people in Spain fully vaccinated as of 1 July 2021 (or nearly 40% of the entire population) and another 55% receiving one shot, you can almost smell optimism – albeit cautious – in the air.  (The Government reckons by the end of August 70% of the people will have been immunized.)

Noches is underway; people are heading for the concerts with much less apprehension, to the point that for some prudent distancing is a thing of the past.

Nathy Peluso, a key figure in the Latin American avant-garde music, kicked off Noches del Botánico after last year’s cancellation of the festival, presenting her latest album, “Calambre”. Noches opened last 11 June; will end 31 July.

Nina Pastori will bring Noches Botánico to a close, a festival that aspires to bring some of the old normal back but with a new-normal precaution

The pop-rock duo, Amaral, and their acoustic band will be rendering some of their greatest hits.  The legendary American trumpet player, Wynton Marsalis, accompanied by a septet made up of members of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, cannot but grab the crowd. Rufus Wainwright from Canada will present songs from his latest album. Ana Torroja, a bright star in the Spanish pop firmament, will pay tribute to Spanish music.

It will fall to Tomatito, Israel Fernández and Antonio Reyes, Diego El Cigala, and Estrella Morente alongside Kiki Morente, the youngest of the famous flamenco Morente clan, to give the Noches crowd a taste of flamenco they won’t rush to forget. The concert featuring bulerías and fandango by the peerless Niña Pastori will bring Noches to a (hopefully memorable) close on 31 July.

Think Noches del Botánico. Think free and easy AND a healthy dosage of caution, please! We’re not entirely out of the woods yet. But it won’t be long now.


NOCHES DEL BOTÁNICO July 2021 Programming
Noches’s vibrant line-up is replete with the icons of the music scene.

1 July: María José Llergo / DORA

2 July: Ismael Serrano

Miguel Ríos in one of his concerts

3 July: Amaral

4 July: Miguel Ríos & The Black Betty Trio

5 July: Xoel López

6 July: Iván Ferreiro

7 July: Rufus Wainwright

8 July: Cécile McLorin Salvant / Tigran Hamasyan Trio

9 July: Tomatito (see video below) with Duquende, Israel Fernández  and Antonio Reyes

Trumpeteer Wynton Marsalis

10 July: Diego El Cigala

11 July: Lori Meyers / Anni B Sweet

13 July: Wynton Marsalis with members of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra

14 July: Coque Malla

15 July: Quique González

16 and 17 July: Fangoria / Nancys Rubias

Mario Vaquerizo of Nancys Rubias, left, and Alaska of Fangoria

18 July: Billy Cobham Band / Richard Bona & Alfredo Rodríguez Duo

19 July: Quique González

20 and 21 July: Jorge Drexler

22 July: Viva Suecia

23 and 24 July: Andrés Suárez / Isma Romero

25 July: Rulo y la Contrabanda


27 July: Rosario

28 July: Ana Torroja

29 July: Los Secretos / Twanguero

30 July: – José González

31 July: Niña Pastori


Info update and tickets

Real Jardin Botánico
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Avda. Complutense 12, 28040 Madrid
(The festival’s venue has two differentiated areas: the leisure and catering area and the concert auditorium.)


Featured image/nochesbotanico, supplied
Empty classroom/Seth Sawyers, CC BY2.0
Complutense/Tila Monto, CC BY-S 3.0 cvia Wikimedia Commons
Noches Botanico derived from Noches Botanico poster. (Derived by Guidepost)
Nina Pastori/Ayuntamiento de Roquetas de Mar, PD
Miguel Rios/Kadellar, CC BY-SA4.0
Wynton Marsalis/JD Lasica via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY2.0, cropped
Mario Vaquerizo and Alaska/DONOSTIA KULTURA via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY2.0
Rosario/Ayuntamiento de Fuenlabrada, CC BY2.5 via Wikimedia Commons


Video source: Notimex TV via Wikimedia Commons