Top Music Festivals to Attend in Bogotá: Festival Salsa al Parque

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Professional Dancers performing in Salsa al Parque

María Montes

Festival Salsa al Parque is a unique event that has it all: amazing, tropical music artists coming from around the world, and a wonderful atmosphere with people dancing all night long.

If you happen to be in Bogotá in November and you want to get into the Latin music vibes, but don’t know how, then Salsa al Parque is your event. This festival is the go-to for anyone looking to expand their musical knowledge and practice all those moves with locals willing to help you improve your salsa game.

What is Salsa al Parque

Festival Salsa al Parque is one of the five annual free music festivals organized by Bogota’s city council. This event goes over a diverse range of salsa sub-genres, from the all-time classics to the more modern manifestations. The event takes place in Simon Bolivar Park and this year’s event will be held on the 2nd and 3rd of November. This festival has been celebrated in the city for over 20 years and is an institution, gathering  the best of the national talent and international artists, dance companies, vinyl collectors, press and music fans from all over the world in one place.

What to expect from Salsa al Parque

This is one of the biggest free music festivals in the city. Last year, 330,000 people attended the event and enjoyed the 18 national and international artists that were showcased in the 2-day event. Famous artists, such as Gilberto Santa Rosa (Puerto Rico), Grupo Niche (Colombia), Rey Ruíz (Cuba), Tito Nieves (Puerto Rico), and my personal favourite, Willie Colón (Puerto Rico), have taken the stage in previous years and boosted the atmosphere with the best live music and Latin rhythms ever!

Unlike Jazz al Parque, this event is more focused and targeted to a grown-up audience, so you can expect to see a lot of adults dancing, and trust me, you won’t want to sit down or stand still. The environment is so cool and joyful that you can expect to see groups of friends dancing alone in one big circle, amateur dance companies rehearsing next to you, and even if you come by yourself, you are almost guaranteed to be taken out for a dance by a random person who just wants to show off their skills.

Vinyl market
© Photograph by Javier Egas (Vinyl market in Salsa al Parque)

Before you go

Keep in mind that the festival starts around noon and entry into the park is quite fast and straightforward. I advise you to use public transportation to arrive at this event as the few parking places near the venue tend to get full very quickly and you might lose time that can be used to dance.

Keep in mind that bringing food and beverages into the venue is forbidden so bring plenty of cash (there are no ATMs in the park) and support some of the local food businesses at the event. Also, keep in mind that you are not allowed to bring in any type of metal belt buckle, alcohol, cigarettes, lighters, glass, or anything that can hurt others. You can also expect to be asked to remove your shoes and socks as part of some of the police inspection protocols.

If you happen to have plenty of time before this event, I recommend you attend the Dance Lessons & Language Exchange at Meeting House. This event is every Thursday from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm and is for all those who haven’t got any experience dancing any of the Latin rhythms. Here, you can learn how to dance not only salsa, but some other popular genres, like champeta, salsa choke, reggaeton, and bachata. Following the dance classes, you can stay for the language exchange (from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm), where you can also practice your Spanish and even learn some of the song lyrics.

I also advise you to bring a bag with you. There are some design businesses at this event so you can check them out and perhaps do some souvenir shopping. Don’t forget to dress for any weather condition, since in Bogotá, you can expect anything to happen. For more information on what to wear and what to pack, you can check out this article.

Be prepared to have a good time

Salsa al Parque has a unique atmosphere and amazing music and is just a big dance party where everyone is invited! I advise you to check out the line up before going and do a bit of research on the bands and musicians that will be playing. You can also check out Spotify’s salsa playlist here to get into the right vibes. This festival is one of my personal favourites because the music is so vibrant and Latin that it’s almost impossible not to dance or be happy.

Salsa al Parque is more than a gig, it’s a celebration of the Latin American community and its musical heritage. Colombia has some of the best salsa in the world, so why not celebrate that? Overall, I think Salsa al Parque is a festival like no other I’ve ever attended to, so if you happen to be in Bogotá around those dates, I encourage you to go and give salsa a chance; it sounds way better when it’s live and I know you are going to love the experience!

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