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Top Music Festivals to attend in Bogotá: Festival Rock al Parque

band performing on the stage

The largest free rock festival in Latin America, Rock al Parque is something you should consider attending if you are visiting the city and you are into rock and other alternative music.

The first edition of Festival Rock al Parque was created as a way of promoting more cultural events in the city. It was the first of five annual free music festivals that took place in the capital city. It was first held back in 1994, taking place in different outdoor venues around  Bogotá, such as “La Media Torta” and “Parque Simón Bolívar”.

Back in 1994, the festival featured only rock bands, but due to the increase in the diversity of concert goers and people’s discussions on what can be categorized as rock and whatnot, the organizers started to open it up to other music genres like ska, punk, reggae, and blues.  Bands like Anthrax, Dead Kennedys, Kymani Marley, Manu Chao, and Sum 41 have been featured in the lineups over the years.

THREE DAYS FULL OF MUSIC

Nowadays, the festival is held only at the Simón Bolívar Park and it always takes place on a bank holiday weekend. This year, it will be taking place June 29th – July 1st.

As I explained before, Rock al Parque organizers have been making a big effort in diversifying the music, therefore, the festival has 3 different stages with several national and international bands that you can discover! The Escenario Eco, Escenario Lago, and the biggest one, called Escenario Plaza, all showcased 55 artists and held around 185.000 attendees in 2018 and it is projected that these figures will continue growing!

People in the concert
© Photograph by Pablo Martínez

A BIG EFFORT TO PROMOTE LOCAL TALENT

It is very important for the organizers of the event to promote local bands and artists, which is why a few months before the event, the city creates an open contest judged by a panel of music experts from universities and other related organizations to select the best local talent for a slot at the festival. This initiative looks to provide exposure for young talent. Just in 2018, of the 55 bands that performed in the event, 20 were the local winners of the contests and 10 came from other cities such as Medellín, Cali, and Pasto.

BEFORE ATTENDING THE EVENT

Because it is a public event organized by the city and is the biggest free rock festival on the continent, the safety restrictions can be quite extreme. For instance, you are not allowed to bring in any type of metal belt buckle, food, alcohol, umbrellas, cigarettes, lighters, or glass, and you can expect to be asked to remove your shoes and socks as part of the police inspection protocols. Keep in mind that under no circumstance are you allowed to enter the event wearing any type of jersey to avoid fights between fans of different teams. 

You can purchase food and non-alcoholic beer inside the venue, but keep in mind that you need to bring cash because there are no ATMs in the park. Smoking is forbidden, although you can expect to see a lot of people smuggling cigarettes and smoking without getting in trouble. It’s better if you take public transportation to arrive, and if you don’t like waiting for hours to get a taxi, I encourage you to leave before the headliner finishes the show and don’t forget to bring a good jacket for the evening and wear sunscreen!

Most importantly, I encourage you to come with a great attitude and willingness to enjoy an awesome, big, and free rock party (Colombian Style)! Even if you are not a big rock music fan, I still advise you to go as I can guarantee you will have lots of fun just by hanging out with all sorts of people! So clear your schedule for those dates and get the most out of the festival, make new friends, and stay away from the mosh pit!

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