The Christmas holiday season is basically over for the year, but that doesn’t mean you have to be bored until the summer. Colombia boasts an almost endless lineup of festivals and cultural celebrations, starting next week, with Bogotá’s Festival Centro, a newer event shining the spotlight on the city’s downtown area. Later in January, Cartagena celebrates the Hay Festival, gathering literary legends from around the world. Then, Barranquilla’s world-renowned Carnaval offers one final explosion of color before the Lent season and Easter week.

Festival Centro to ‘rock’ downtown Bogotá

The Gilberto Alzate Avendaño Foundation (FGAA) has gained quite a reputation for putting on an annual celebration of all that’s good about music and life in the city’s center. It’s a tradition now to lure audiences to La Candelaria for a five-day musical event. Starting every day with afternoon performances, the Festival Centro celebrates a variety of Colombian musical traditions as well as the dedication of the artists invited to perform.

The Antlers by Kevin N. Murphy

The lineup for Bogotá’s Festival Centro brings together bands from around the world including Brooklyn-based opening act The Antlers.

This year, the genres are varied: there’s folk, rock, jazz, electronic and hip-hop among others. The Festival Centro starts on January 16 with the opening act The Antlers, an indie group, which has performed on the Jay Leno Show and Late Night with Letterman.

Here’s a listing of the confirmed artists/bands for Festival Centro 2013: Bunkers (Chile), Sunny War (USA), Juan Cirerol (Mexico), Enjambre (Mexico), Kali Mutsa (Chile), Tulsa (Spain), Russian Red (Spain), Solokarina (Colombia-Venezuela). The event closes on Sunday Jan. 20, with Puma Blanca.  Ticket prices range from $3,000 to $5,000 per concert.

The FGAA once again has organized an impressive line up of musicians and bands coming to Bogotá from around the world to entertain, perform and celebrate the beauty of the city’s historic center. Many of the concerts take place in the FGAA’s open courtyard, or Muelle. After the shows, be sure to enjoy the cultural variety always on offer in La Candelaria.

Hay Festival: It’s a last name, not the kind in bales

In January, Cartagena is home to the Hay Festival. This year, many literary nobles as well as Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa will be present to discuss their life works and contributions to world literature. Some of the prestigious name who will be in Cartagena during the five day event include: Herta Müller, David Grossman, Julian Barnes, Fernando Savater, Patrick Deville, Elsa Osorio, Dinaw Mengestu, Gioconda Belli, and anthropologist Wade Davies. Check the Hay official program for more details on the musical events of the Hay festival as well as the hours and days of the guest speaker series.

The biggest Carnaval this side of Rio

A city with a big heart puts on one of the best carnavals in Latin America. Barranquilla is not far off from being on a par with Rio. Right on the Caribbean, Barranquilla has some of the best weather in the country, and as a result people wear extravagant tropical costumes. Dressed in glitter and bright masks, the attendees dance in the gorgeous sun, tirelessly, for four long days. Like all Colombian festivals, there are theatrical parades based on mythical stories. The festival is a true celebration of Colombian music, with styles from across the country being boomed out on speakers throughout the city. It was even named to a list of cultural treasures by UNESCO and is a great opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of music that Colombia has to offer.

With three wildly different and massively entertaining Colombian festivals on deck in between now and the end of March, there’s no excuse for being bored this winter.


Know of any other festivals happening in the next few months that deserve a mention? Let us know leaving a comment.