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My 2013 Wishlist of Festivals in Colombia
Ah, to have all the time and money in the world.
Colombia’s abundance of festivals and carnivals means it would be pretty much impossible to make them all. But for me every year there are a few obvious standouts, and a few that I’d just like to go to out of curiosity.
This is my wishlist of events in Colombia for 2013. If you feel like donating some money to me so I can go, just get in touch in the comments.
Carnival of Blacks and Whites (January)
I have to admit I’m intruiged by this one because it strikes the liberal European sensibility as being slightly… Controversially named: ‘Carnaval de Negros y Blancos‘. There’s probably nothing too outrageous about it, since it’s a celebration of different cultures and the cultural diversity that makes up Colombia, but still. From what I’ve seen there are huge parades with some pretty trippy floats, so count me in come next January.
Barranquilla Carnival (February)
Often called the second best carnival in the world, but whether it is or not isn’t really important; the fact is that Barranquilla Carnival is 4 days of unadulterated fun. Having not been to Rio’s Carnival, nor really anything similar, I have in my mind a weekend of drunken debauchery, which sounds pretty hard to refuse, no?
Donkey Festival (March)
Just… Just look at that donkey and tell me you don’t want to go to this festival.
This festival celebrates all things donkey and has been running in San Antero, Cordoba, since 1987. They dress up donkeys, do huge donkey parades and generally spend a few days putting their donkeys on show. One of those bizarre festivals you just kind of want to see for yourself.
Estereo Picnic (March/April)
I actually have no idea who will be playing at Estereo Picnic this year, but if the last years are anything to go by the line-up should be stellar. Last year I was treated to MGMT (not great), TV On The Radio (amazing), Systema Solar (quality), Monsiuer Perine (great) and many more. Hipsters delight, this is your new favourite festival in Colombia. They also have cool stuff like ball-pits and karaoke.
Rock Al Parque (July)
One of the biggest free rock festivals in the world, Rock Al Parque might not offer much aside from a good selection of bands, but y’know, that’s why you’re there anyways. Previous years have featured bands such as ChocQuibTown, Charly Garcia, Buraka Som Sistema and Bomba Estereo, plus a load of metal bands I don’t know nor care to check out. A good festival, and always a good weekend.
Manizales Street Theatre Festival (September – October)
The whole city turns in to one big theatre for this festival, which is one of the biggest of its kind in Colombia. It’s a great spectacle and engenders a fantastic feeling of community among the citizens. Manizales is already a pretty bohemian spot thanks to the amount of students that live there, but during this festival they turn it up a notch. Galleries, museums and cafes go the extra mile to make sure all visitors to the city leave with an extra bit of culture.
Palenque Drum Festival (October)
Palenque is just an hour away from Cartagena, and if you’re at all familiar with Cartagena you’re probably a little bit familiar with Palenque, even if you don’t know it. Those ladies that wear fruit on their heads and dress in colourful clothes? They’re palenqueras.
This festival celebrates Colombia’s rich African heritage with of events and exhibitions. Workshops are held to learn the local tongue and there are many oral and visual narrations. The highlight, however, is undoubtedly the drumming. Drummers come from far and wide to celebrate Afro-Colombian musical styles and dancing the the result is an incredible spectacle.
The Cali Fayre (December)
No city in Colombia says ‘salsa party’ like Cali, so imagine Cali on festival mode at the Feria de Cali. I imagine sweaty locals swigging aguardiente while strains of salsa permeate throughout the streets and me and my gringo friends just walk along shouting and being loud. Sounds awesome, and a great way to see out the year.