GO Fest Madrid 2024: A Review

Hi there trainers,

Can you believe that GO Fest season is upon us and we are already two out of three in-person events ticked off the calendar with New York up next and rounding off with the Global event in July! It hardly seems a minute since it was announced…

I was able to attend this years event in Madrid and I am here to fill you in on the experience, the great, the good and what (in my own humble opinion) could be improved upon. 

The City General icon

I had not visited Madrid before and did not know what to expect. In the run-up I had been very lax in my research of the city in terms of where to play, what to see, how to get around. I left everything to the very last minute, thankfully my fellow GO Hub writer Kratos created his guide to Madrid which really saved my bacon so huge props to them! 

Promotional flagpost

My own personal itinerary meant there was not much room for genuine exploration of the city due to flight/gameplay timings. What I saw from wandering the streets to visiting the city’s largest park Parque del Retiro though was that this an ideal location for an event on the scale of GO Fest. It was busy but never crowded, public transport links were excellent. The huge volume of additional gyms and PokéStops placed into parks and around the city meant you were never far from a decent spot to casually wander and raid if you just needed to put your feet up for 15 minutes and take in a Fanta Limon!

Promotional GO Fest balloon

I would have loved to have spent more time post GO Fest to go see some of the city but it does give me a reason to go back and visit again as I really enjoyed my time there. It was my very first time travelling overseas for a Pokémon event and it has set the bar very high for future expectations!

The Great General icon

  • Spawns – both during the city and park play sessions spawns were thick and fast with a huge variety of potentially shiny Pokémon to catch. Even by the end of the second day it was still a buzz to see Unown, Pa’u Oricorio (it isn’t my usually available style), Klefki on the map and in the park finding a wild Hydreigon absolutely blew our minds. City play the shiny rate felt lower than the park experience, echoing the experience last year in London.
  • Field Research – Simple, short, quick-hit field research tasks in the city and the park meant there was a real opportunity to grind decent IV shinies and catches due to the IV floor. It would take seconds to ‘Earn 500 stardust’ for example and you could legitimately work through all the PokéStops in an area and grind for what you wanted.
  • Special Research – Very similar to London Diancie research in 2023, nothing too challenging while still pushing you to make the most of being in the park, you had to visit all habitats and take snapshots and giving you multiple encounters with Heat Rotom. (How did my Marshadow encounter turn out? A cheeky 15/13/15)
  • People – I went with friends, I met friends out there and I made new ones whilst there. It has been said by GO Hub in other articles  and by almost anyone that has attended these events that nothing can compare to an in-person event when everyone is there with that same purpose. You can strike up a conversation with anyone nearby and you will have something to talk about. I queued for a meet and greet with ZoëTwoDots (always a delight) and the attending members of Incensed Podcast, Ian Waterfall and Masterful 27.
  • Park – Having attended a GO Fest before (London) I had some idea of what it would be like, however it truly surpassed my previous experience. The layout, the park décor (Pokémon and non-Pokémon related) made it really feel like you were somewhere really special. Food, toilets, facilities, everything ran smoothly, minimal/no queueing and it would be very hard for me to find fault with anything. I had some initial concerns over the amount of shade that would be available but there was always a tree or a tent or something to perch under and pause for a raid.

The Good General icon

  • Raids – With a potential 6 Ultra Beasts to raid (Kartana, Blacephelon, Nihilego, Guzzlord, Pheromosa and Necrozma) the pool was a little diluted. RNG did its best to keep us on our toes and to keep us moving. The raid timers were short, lobbies were always full (sorry to anyone I couldn’t get into a raid lobby!) but occasionally there would be a lull when confronted with a trio of Blacephelon raids in front of you rather than the hot property of Pheromosa and Necrozma as the debut shinies. 
  • Connectivity – There were patches were connectivity was a little slow and while it didn’t significantly impact my gameplay there were others I was with and anecdotally that really struggled in Parque del Retiro and the Juan Carlos I event park. Provisions had been made with in the event park and it can be hard for organisers to fully anticipate the demand needed balanced against having additional masts everywhere spoiling the aesthetic.

The Rest General icon

  • Beast balls missing in action

    Beast Balls – GO Fest is a very busy time, there is research to do, stops to spin, Pokémon to catch and it did grate a little that every time an Ultra Beast was defeated you had between 14-22 Premier balls to throw to attempt to catch it and it interrupted the event flow. Bringing back the beast balls to help with catching and speed things along would really have made this event perfect.


Wherefore art thou rare candy XL?
  • Rare XL drop rate – Even with the Raid Lover add-on, all raids being in-person and hitting around 50 raids in two days I may have had 5 rare candy XL drop as a reward. I personally believe, particularly if you have paid for the add-on, then you should be receiving a guaranteed minimum of one rare candy XL for the Ultra Beast raids for at least the first 18 raids covered by the add-on. 

Parting Shot General icon

And that is it, that is my personal viewpoint on the event. Bar a couple of minor niggles on the aspects Niantic had control over, it was a stunning event and I’m glad I went and saw what I imagine is the closest representation to Niantic’s vision for Pokémon GO yet.

I came away with a great handful of new (to me) shinies, top of my list being three Espurr, a 98 Necrozma with the location card (no shiny for me, redemption at Global GO Fest) and some rare regional Pokémon that I did not have – a yellow and blue Flabébé, a Hawlucha and finally a crazy trade with a brand-new friend that went lucky, a shiny Sensu style Oricorio freshly caught at Sendai! 

Are you attending the New York event and can’t wait to get your teeth in? Are you (im)patiently waiting for Global? Were you at Madrid and want to share your experience? Comments and feedback welcome! 

Stay safe and see you soon trainers!

Author & tags

UK Instinct player since 14/07/2016, currently at 260m XP and counting... All-round good guy who likes to take on the big raids with as few people as possible!

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