Music and Dance Festivals in Colombia

Dancers in red and white costumes getting ready for Carnaval in Barranquilla.

Dancers getting ready for Carnaval in Barranquilla. Photo © Andrew Dier. Keep up with Andrew via his Facebook page for Moon Colombia.

From the parks of Bogotá, ciudad de la música, to the great plains of the Llanos in the east, Colombia is a country where music and dance flourishes. There are plenty of festivals where travelers can see the best dancers, pick up a few moves, and get their groove on.

Festivals in Cali

Caleños boast that their city is the world capital of salsa, and there’s no denying that it’s an integral part of daily life in Cali. The last week of the year is the Feria de Cali, a week-long event of salsa concerts, parties, and pageantry that takes over the city.

Other festivals worth checking out are August’s Festival Mundial de Salsa, which showcases the glitz and frenetic footwork of the dance, and the Festival Petronio Álvarez, a September celebration of Pacific Coast music and culture.

Festivals in Villavicencio

On the Llanos, the great eastern plains of Colombia, cowhands work on cattle ranches during the day. At night, they get out their harps and jam a Llanero form of waltz called joropo. During the Torneo Internacional del Joropo in June, musicians and dancers from across the Llanos converge on Villavicencio, participating in open-air concerts and competitions. Cowboys show their stuff in Llanero rodeos during the week-long festival.

Festivals in Medellín

Tango has a long history in Medellín. The Festival Internacional de Tango is held each year in June, offering four days of free concerts and dance performances across the city.

Festivals in Barranquilla

Colombia’s favorite festival is the Carnaval de Barranquilla, held each year in February. Cumbia, an intriguing mix of indigenous, African, and Spanish musical styles, takes center stage at this multi-day event of parades, concerts, and parties.

Festivals in Bogotá

Typical of the way this metropolis rolls, Bogotá doesn’t have just one music celebration. From July to November, the action takes place in the city’s largest park, the Parque Simón Bolívar, during the Festivales al Parque series of festivals: Salsa al Parque, Jazz al Parque, Opera al Parque, and the thumping Rock al Parque. Best of all, it’s free.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Colombia.

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