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

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Toto la Momposina singing in Colombia al Parque

María Montes

The newest of all the 5 free annual festivals organized by the city of Bogotá is a celebration of what makes this city great; it’s a mix of all the country’s traditions and musical heritage in one place. Here is why you shouldn’t miss the chance to  go to Festival Colombia al Parque.

The Festival Colombia al Parque was created 17 years ago to celebrate the best of Colombian music by showcasing all the musical genres originating from the country’s long history of cultural fusions. This year’s event will take place at Parque de Los Novios on the 31st and 1st of September and is a must-attend if you happen to be in town.

A celebration of Colombian identity and musical heritage

There are some ways you can get to know a country’s culture and history and music is one of the most popular tools to do so. In accordance with this belief, the city council created the Festival Colombia al Parque to promote the national artists and bands that embody our musical heritage and encourage the historical exploration of indigenous, African, and European influence that created what we now call “our national music.” Festival Colombia al Parque is incredibly interesting because unlike the other festivals, it only displays national talent and seeks to preserve the musical roots that make us unique.

According to the festival’s official figures, last year the attendance tripled from the previous year, hosting over 26,000 people over the 2-day event. Families with little kids and pets are the most common visitors to this park that holds by far the biggest number of picnic blankets and great vibes. Here are some tips you should keep in mind before attending this event.

Crowd enjoying a concert in Colombia al Parque
© Photograph by Jorge Alvarado on Flickr.com

What to expect

This music festival has some of the oddest combinations of music genres and instruments you can possibly think of, from the harp commonly used in the western plains to the Caribbean “gaita” (an indigenous type of flute commonly used in cumbia) to the marimbas of the Pacific coast and the drums and accordion, I can guarantee you that you will have a great time at this festival!

Some of the most well-known genres in Colombia are cumbia, champeta, currulao, bolero, and vallenato. Among the artists and bands that have played in previous years at this event are Mitú, the vallenato legend, Jorge Oñate, Herencia de Timbiquí, and the queen of cumbia, Totó La Momposina. So, if you are a music enthusiast, you can expect to get your mind blown by all the amazing sounds you’ll hear.

The traditional Colombian Band “Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto” with their traditional drums and the Gaita (Third left to right)
© Photograph by Varela. on Flickr.com

Before going

Keep in mind that this is a public event that keeps getting more popular every year, which means you need to arrive with plenty of time so you don’t miss anything. The gates open at noon, and if you arrive early, you might get to secure a good spot in one of the hammocks the event installs for its attendees.

I personally consider public transport to always be the best way to arrive at any busy event, but if you are thinking about taking a car or a bicycle, keep in mind that you might have to spend some time looking for a parking spot near the venue. Colombia al Parque’s security is a bit more flexible than other festivals in the city, meaning you can bring food to the event with no restrictions apart from glass containers, which are forbidden at every event in the city. If you are hungry, you can buy food inside the event. There are plenty of food trucks to pick from, but just keep in mind that these businesses only take cash, so you should make a quick stop at the ATM before arriving.

Last but not least, I encourage you to bring your own picnic basket, have a seat, and enjoy your lunch with some great music in the background, while preparing yourself to dance until the last artist plays it last song. You can go to any of these supermarkets and get some “picnic-ready food” to save you time. Keep in mind that there are two stages at this event, therefore you should visit them both and check out all the local artists making amazing music.

Overall, I think Colombia al Parque is the right event for people looking to learn more about our country’s musical heritage and the new sounds influencing it today. It’s an event that brings out the best of the country’s diversity and multiculturalism by sending a message of inclusion, great respect for the traditions, and great support of the young, new talent. I’ve been to Colombia al Parque a few times before and I really enjoyed it. It is more than an event, it’s a place where people and families interact with each other and express themselves; it makes you feel proud of being Colombian (even if you are not) and makes you look forward to next year. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of great music; trust me, you won’t regret it!

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