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Colombia’s Top 43 Festivals: A Monthly Calendar Guide

Marimonda parade in Barranquilla

Updated on 05/03/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

No other country celebrates life like Colombia. More than 150 festivals with over 18 public holidays are waiting for you all year round to arrive in this country full of colors, liveliness and a touch of madness!

From religious weeks to carnivals with music, laughter and joy to music festivals, parades and raves – Colombia knows exactly how to celebrate happily!

Read on to learn more about Colombia, the country of festivals.

Colombia’s Festivals in January

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Black and Whites’ Carnival, Pasto

When: 1 week, early January
Where: Pasto, Nariño
Access: There is an entrance fee

The Carnival of Blacks and Whites is a traditional festival that tells the story of Colombia, indigenous traditions, slavery, and independence.

This celebration originated from the rituals of local indigenous groups to give thanks for the harvests.

It is simply known as the only carnival with purely indigenous roots, created thanks to the cultural mixtures after the Independence from the Spanish. You should know there are two phases in this carnival:

  • Pre-Carnival: During these days, the streets are painted with colors, and local artists perform.
  • Carnival: The main parade, where artisans build giant figures and parade them through the streets. This represents the fusion of indigenous, Spanish, and African cultural influences.

What will you find at the Carnaval de Negros y Blancos?

  • Parade of the Colonies: Showcases the cultural diversity of the region.
  • Comedy Festival: Laughter and entertainment with local and international comedians.
  • Water Carnival: Celebration with water and foam.
  • Choreographic Collectives Parade: Dances and choreographies.
  • Latin American Music Concert.
  • Rock and Pop Music concerts
  • Day of the Blacks and Day of the Whites: Specific celebrations, such as dances, music performances, and parades for each ethnic group.
  • Guinea Pig and Peasant Culture Festival: Gastronomy and rural traditions.

As an interesting fact, this carnival was declared an Intangible Heritage by UNESCO in 2009.

Also, check out our Pasto Travel Guide

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Manizales Fair

When: 10 days, early January
Where: Manizales, Caldas.
Access: It is a completely free event for the public. However, some events may require tickets, such as the billiards championship. You should keep an eye on the official website for more updates.

The Manizales Fair, in its beginnings, focused on the exhibition of agriculture, livestock and handicrafts, highlighting the relevance of the coffee industry in the local economy.

With time, this event has undergone significant changes, integrating a varied offer of activities ranging from parades to sports competitions and artistic presentations.

In this fair, you will find close to 450 cultural, musical, artistic and sporting events, 70% of which are free of charge and easily enjoyable.

What will you find at the Manizales Fair?

  • Attending bullfights at the Plaza de Toros Monumental (Monumental Bullring), featuring national and international figures.
  • Participating in the Carretas del Rocío parade, a replica of the pilgrimage in Seville, Spain.
  • Watching the International Coffee Queen pageant, where the queen is selected from representatives of coffee-producing countries.
  • Enjoying live concerts with national and international artists covering various genres.
  • Visiting artistic, gastronomic, and craft exhibitions held in different venues throughout the city.
  • Sports activities and tournaments, such as football, billiards, karting, and skating.
  • Folkloric parades, dances, and processions on the main streets and avenues of the city.

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Cartagena Classical Music Festival

When: 9 days, early January
Where: Cartagena, Bolívar
Access: There is an entrance fee. However, registration is necessary

Since 2007, the Cartagena Classical Music Festival celebrates the best of classical music from Europe and America.

Every year, the festival is refreshed with a unique theme, taking you on a musical journey through different eras of the world. Here, you enjoy 35 concerts, featuring the participation of more than 250 national and international artists.

This Festival is not just any event; this walled city is the most important meeting point for classical music in Latin America, attracting world-class musicians every year.

What will you find at the Cartagena Classical Music Festival?

  • Screenings of documentaries and short films of various genres.
  • Meetings and discussions with directors, actors, producers, and invited critics.
  • Workshops and “masterclasses” on screenwriting, directing, production, photography, sound, editing and other aspects of cinema.
  • Exhibitions on art, photography, and literature.
  • Live music concerts with soundtracks.
  • Homages to outstanding personalities of Ibero-American and world cinema.
  • Dance and theater performances.
  • Books and magazines.
  • Academic and educational activities.
  • Gastronomic routes of the Caribbean region in hotels in the city.
  • Competitions and prizes for new emerging talents and new proposals.
  • Film screenings in the districts.

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Riosucio Carnival

When: Every two years, 5 days, until January 6
Where: Riosucio, Caldas
Access: Attendance is free

The Riosucio Carnival, also known as the Devil’s Carnival, is a National Oral, Cultural, and Intangible Heritage. The festivity is filled with joy, humor, and fun.

This carnival began in 1819 following the unification of the formerly rival communities of Quiebralomo and La Montaña, thanks to the intervention of two priests who threatened the arrival of Satan if they did not unite. In 1915, the figure of the devil was adopted as the central effigy of this celebration.

It’s not a rite or anything like that, but rather a very cultural-themed party set to the rhythm of well-known songs.

Writers create new lyrics for plays and literary works with greetings to the devil, where they express their opinions on rulers and other everyday topics.

But you must go and experience this carnival!

What will you find at the Riosucio Carnaval?

  • The awakening of the carnival, when people wander around in their costumes waiting for the devil.
  • A daily party with music and fireworks.
  • The bullrings filled with community pantomime featuring Creole bulls.
  • The float parade represents the typical aspects of their respective cultures.
  • The parade of lanterns and giant devil figures takes place on the night of Carnival Monday.
  • Devil’s Marathon: A sporting event in which athletes participate wearing unique costumes of the festivity.
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Corralejas Fair

When: January 20
Where: Sincelejo, Sucre
Access: The bullfighting events have a fee

“Ya viene el 20 de enero, la fiesta de Sincelejo…” So begins the unofficial anthem of one of Colombia’s most anticipated fairs.

The Fiesta de la Corraleja, also known as “the January 20th festivities,” is essentially a bullfighting festival that lasts several days and takes place not only in the bullring but also in the city streets.

Spectators come to witness various amateurs fighting about 40 bulls daily with music bands. Even though in recent years bullfighting has been forbidden intermittently thanks to animal activists, thousands of locals and foreigners enjoy 10 days of pure joy.

What will you find at the Corralejas Fair?

  • Bullfights: Amateurs fight with 40 brave bulls from different ranches.
  • Bands of musicians: Attendees enjoy the music while watching the corralejas.
  • Parades: In addition to the bullring, the festival takes over the city with programmed activities such as the Fandangueras and the carriages and troupes’ parades, the cavalcade, and the Pola Becte alborada.
  • Election of the Police Queen: Part of the celebration includes the crowning of the queen.
  • Concerts: Local and national artists perform during the Corraleja Festival.

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Hay Festival

When: 4 days, end of January
Where: Cartagena, Bolívar
Access: There is an entrance fee

This festival was inaugurated in 1988 in Wales. Since then, it has spread to over 15 countries around the world. In 2006, it reached Cartagena, due to the organizers’ interest in having the presence of the Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez.

The Hay Festival brings together prominent authors, intellectuals, and artists from around the world to engage in talks, lectures, and presentations on the fields of literature, science, art, and more.

The festival is currently one of the most important literary events in the Hispanic world, attracting more than 180 national and international guests. In addition, over 120 events take place during the festival.

What will you find at Hay Festival?

  • Conversations with renowned writers, musicians, journalists, and artists from all over the world
  • Concerts with classical music, jazz, and other musical genres
  • Art, photography and literature exhibitions on the theme of the festival
  • Workshops and open rehearsals for writers, musicians, and artists
  • Presentation of books, magazines and publications with a focus on literature, and culture
  • Dance and theater shows inspired by literature
  • Academic and educational activities together with universities, and educational institutions
  • Fair of crafts, gastronomy, and typical products of the Caribbean

Colombia’s Festivals in February

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Barranquilla’s Carnival

When: 4 days, between February and March
Where: Barranquilla, Atlántico
Access:

  • Attendance at the carnival is free. However, certain events such as the vallenato battle or the orchestra festival have a per-person cost.
  • Additionally, there are VIP stands with better locations and enhanced security for enjoying the parades, which have a cost depending on the location or event.

The Barranquilla Carnival is an expression of the diversity of the people of Barranquilla and the Colombian Caribbean. It mixes European, African, and Indigenous traditions, and thousands of tourists gather there every year to enjoy the true Caribbean atmosphere.

For four days, more than 500 folkloric groups participate, the city is filled with music, dance, color, and parades.

This event is considered the largest and most popular carnival in the entire Caribbean region. It was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

What will you find at the Barranquilla Carnival?

  • The coronation night, where you can see the kings of the Carnival being crowned.
  • The Great Parade of Tradition, you will see traditional dances of the Colombian Caribbean.
  • The Battle of Flowers, a parade where floats, folkloric groups, and comparsas participate.
  • The burial of Joselito Carnival, theatrical plays are made alluding to the death of Joselito, a man who died from drinking alcohol, a very funny tradition.
  • Homage to the Magdalena River, which includes artistic expressions related to the river, such as cumbia, porro, gaita, and bullerengue.
  • Reading marathons.
  • Night of salsa, vallenato, and other popular genres of the region.
  • Costume parade with representative carnival characters.
  • Tasting of traditional dishes of the Caribbean coast (sancocho, arepas, patacones, carimañolas, etc.).

Barranquilla Carnival parade Colombia
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The Fire Carnival

When: 5 days, mid-February
Where: Tumaco, Nariño
Access: Attendance is free

In Tumaco, Nariño, there is a festival called “El Carnaval del Fuego”. This Carnival began after a fire at the fire station in 1959, which led the neighbors to unite to extinguish the fire. Later, a bazaar was organized and queens were chosen in each neighborhood to raise funds to rebuild the station, giving rise to this carnival.

It is one of the largest commemorations on the Colombian Pacific coast. The “Afro” people of the region gather to show both tourists and locals a festivity full of music, dances, and Afro-Colombian cuisine all in one place.

What will you find at the Fire Carnaval?

  • Cultural events: Music and dance performances that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the region.
  • Alboradas: Music and celebrations at dawn.
  • Main parades: The main event with floats and folkloric groups.
  • Afro party: Celebration of Afro-Colombian heritage with music and dance.
  • Nautical parade: A parade that takes place on the water, with decorated boats.
  • Carnival queen contest: Competition where the carnival queen is chosen.
  • Beach Party: Beach parties with music and dance.
  • Black Night: A special night dedicated to Afro music and culture.
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Candelaria Feasts

When: 9 days, until February 2nd
Where: Cartagena, Bolívar
Access: Only the entrance to the Cerro de la Popa, has a cost

The Feast of La Candelaria is celebrated on February 2nd, as this is the date when the Virgin of La Candelaria, the patron saint of Cartagena, is venerated. During these festive days, the people pay homage to tradition by climbing to the top of Cerro de la Popa and then descending to bring home traditional sugarcane sticks that merchants place along the way.

This is one of the most important and recognized celebrations within the historical development of the city and the country’s commemorative events. For example, it’s as if people gather to venerate the Virgin and enjoy many festivities filled with music, food, and horseback riding.

What will you find at the Candelaria Feasts?

  • Cultural events: Include workshops, musical performances, and horse parades, which are intertwined with religious activities.
  • Gastronomic festival: An event that celebrates traditional regional cuisine.
  • Religious activities: Early masses, presentation of children to the Virgin.
  • Ascent to Cerro de La Popa: Traditional pilgrimage to the hill’s convent, which is a meeting point for parishioners and tourists.

Colombia’s Festivals in March

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Holy Week in Popayán

When: 1 week, between March and April
Where: Popayán, Cauca
Access: Admission is free

The Holy Week processions in Popayán were declared a Cultural and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009.

One of the highlights is that you will be able to visit the numerous colonial churches and cathedrals of the city, which is like stepping back 500 years in time.

In addition to the processions, you can listen to choirs and religious music in the churches. There is also a religious music festival.

What will you find in Popayan’s Holy Week?

  • Processions: Each day has its procession, such as the one for Our Lord Jesus Christ Resurrected on Holy Saturday.
  • Exhibitions in museums related to Holy Week and its history.
  • Religious Music Festival: Enjoy concerts and musical performances with a religious theme.
  • The Holy Way of the Cross: A traditional representation of the Passion of Christ.

If you are looking for more information, read our blog on Holy Week in Colombia. 

Processions of Popayán

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Religious Music Festival

When: 1 week, between March and April
Where: Popayán, Cauca
Access: Admission is free

The Religious Music Festival that takes place during Holy Week is a must-visit for those interested in historical art expressions. Solo artists, bands, and choirs from all over the world run live shows of Islamic, Sephardic, Celtic, Lutheran, and traditional American music, among others as part of the oldest festival of its kind in America.

If you are not a fan of religion you don’t need to worry cause Popayán is a UNESCO city of gastronomy too, so you can discover its delightful typical dishes such as empanadas de pipian or salpicón de frutas while touring its beautiful streets that carry a long history.

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Cartagena de Indias International Film Festival

When: 6 days, end of March
Where: Cartagena, Bolívar
Access: Admission is free. However, registration is required

The Cartagena de Indias International Film Festival is the most important and oldest in Latin America (1960). It aims to promote the Ibero-American and global cinema. Around 150 films are screened in every edition.

At this festival, you will enjoy films, documentaries, and short films of various genres and themes competing for the India Catalina awards in several categories.

The goal is simply for you to interact with the guests, who are film artists, critics, and directors. If you are a cinephile, you must go!

What will you find at the Cartagena International Film Festival?

  • Screenings of documentaries and short films of various genres.
  • Meetings and discussions with directors, actors, producers, and invited critics.
  • Workshops and “masterclasses” on screenwriting, directing, production, photography, sound, editing and other aspects of cinema.
  • Exhibitions on art, photography, and literature.
  • Live music concerts with soundtracks.
  • Homages to outstanding personalities of Ibero-American and world cinema.
  • Dance and theater performances
  • Introduction of books and magazines.
  • Academic and educational activities.
  • Gastronomic routes of the Caribbean region in hotels in the city.
  • Competitions and prizes for new emerging talents and new proposals.
  • Film screenings in the districts.

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The Ibero-American Theater of Bogotá

When: 17 days, March
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access:

  • The admission for the first 5 days takes place in closed halls and different costs apply depending on the performance.
  • However, for the following 12 days of the festival, you will have free access to theater performances in public places in the city such as parks, shopping centers, etc.

The Ibero-American Theater was born under the idea, motivation and direction of Fanny Mikey, an Argentinean in love with art, who arrived in Colombia in 1985 in pursuit of a love.

FITB brings together classical, and contemporary dramaturgy for all audiences with more than 800 performances of theater, dance, music and plays that attract directors, critics and producers of Ibero-American performances.

This festival transforms Bogotá into a living stage, offering a complete cultural experience with shows, and believe me, you are gonna enjoy presentations throughout the urban environment for all participants.

What will you find at the Ibero-American Theater Festival of Bogotá?

  • National and international theater works
  • Acting workshops
  • Fair for literary and theater publications
  • Restaurants and cafes (in closed theaters)
  • Lectures and discussions
  • Experimental theater
  • Shadow theater
  • Street theater
  • Traditional and regional folk dances
  • Music and concerts with national and international artists
  • Cultural exhibitions and museum tours
  • Circus shows
  • VIA Business Roundtable on Exporting Colombian Talent
  • Cabaret tent with live music and DJs
  • Art and photography exhibition
  • Accounting functions
  • Screening of films
Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro
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Colombian Music Festival

When: 8 days, March
Where: Ibague, Tolima
Access: Most events are free, except for the gala concert and others held in closed theaters

The Festival Nacional de Música Colombiana (or National Colombian Music Festival) is a cultural event celebrated since 1987 in Ibagué, Tolima, known as the musical capital of Colombia.

The festival was created to preserve and promote the country’s musical traditions, especially Andean music, as well as other regional folk expressions. It has also incorporated new elements and musical genres but always maintains its focus on Colombian indigenous music.

Music genres you will find:

  • Bambuco.
  • Pasillo.
  • Guabina.
  • Cumbia. 
  • Vallenato.
  • Llanera music.
  • Merengue.

Activities: You will enjoy activities more focused on regional culture such as parades, art exhibitions, concerts, and gastronomic fairs.

Colombia’s Festivals in April

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Vallenato Festival

When: 5 days, early-April
Where: Valledupar, Cesar
Access: Attendance has a cost

The Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata (Vallenato Legend Festival) is the most important Vallenato event in the country, celebrated annually since 1968.

It aims to preserve vallenato, which is currently one of the most representative genres of Colombian folklore and named Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, through its four rhythms:

  • Paseo
  • Merengue
  • Son
  • Puya

What can you find at the Vallenato Festival?

This festival hosts competitions defined in 5 categories:

  • Children.
  • Youth.
  • Amateur.
  • Professional.
  • Performers.

Each category evaluates the mastery of the accordion, the caja, and the guaracha (basic instruments in vallenato), as well as the interpretation of the four airs or styles of vallenato (Paseo, Merengue, Son, and Puya).

Diomedes Diaz Monunment at Valledupar
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International Book Fair

When: 10 days, mid-April
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: Attendance has a cost

Since 1988, FILBo has been an annual cultural fair in Bogota that brings together reading enthusiasts, writers, publishers, and people from all over the world.

For 10 days, you’ll be at the largest literary event in the country, with more than 400 guests and plenty of books, magazines, and publications to choose from.

Each year, a different country is invited to showcase its literature and culture. You can also chat face-to-face with famous authors and find out the latest news from the literary world.

What will you find at the International Book Fair?

  • Themed cafes and restaurants.
  • Conference areas.
  • Books signing.
  • Dramatized plays and readings.
  • Concerts and song evenings.
  • Artistic presentations.
  • Discussions.
  • Areas with special programs for children and young people.
  • Areas with exhibition spaces and sales of artistic manifestations.
  • Simultaneous translation rooms into several languages.
  • Programming of cultural activities (literature and art)
  • Independent book fair.
  • Used book fair.
  • Digital book fair.
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Estéreo Picnic

When: 4 days, end of March
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: Attendance has a cost

  • There are ticket options available for both individual days and combo packages.
  • Prices vary depending on the sales stage and are available for both general and VIP sections.
  • You can also find combo deals for three or four days, depending on your preference.

Estéreo Picnic Festival is the Colombian equivalent of Lollapalooza. An impressive alternative music festival held for 4 days every April since 2009. After being held outside of Bogotá at Briceño 18 Golf Club for over 10 years, in 2024 it was moved to the Simon Bolivar Park in the city’s heart. It combines emerging local artists with world-known bands and singers besides a good customer experience based on food, camping, games, and market zones.

It is one of the most recognized festivals in Latin America for its quality and musical diversity. In fact, did you know Billie Eilish and Drake also performed at this festival?

What will you find at Estéreo Picnic?

  • Food zones or “food trucks”
  • Relaxation or rest areas such as (hammocks, stools, etc.)
  • Interactive games area
  • Urban, artistic, and landscape art area
  • Park landscape.
  • Art exhibition and interactive activities.
  • Small businesses fair
  • Food fair.
  • Crafts fair.
  • A themed party with various musical, artistic, and cultural proposals
  • Workshops on music production, photography, and recycling incentives
  • Acoustic presentations
  • Picnic area

Colombia’s Festivals in May

European Film Festival

When: 10 days, May
Where: Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Manizales
Access: The screening of films will be free of charge in alternative spaces such as public libraries, detention centers, universities, and cultural centers.

However, you should keep an eye on their official website for updates.

Since 1994 there has been an alternative space for the exhibition of European films in Colombia: the Eurocine Festival. It is supported by European embassies to spread their rich culture among Colombian people, and it has worked!

Around 30,000 people attend the festival yearly. Here you won’t find the same movies that are displayed in every commercial cinema, these are independent high-quality projects that guarantee your satisfaction. Carefully selected into categories, these films expose the distinct contexts of the participating countries.

Just check the program on the web page and filter by date, city, or producing country and you’re ready to enjoy.

What will you find at the European Film Festival?

  • Film premieres.
  • Workshops and lectures.
  • Film screenings of different genres (feature films, short films).
  • Art and Cinema: Enjoy experimental or art-related films.
  • Eurofilms in shorts: Highlights issues such as climate change, the environment, inclusion, and exclusion through short films.

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Wayúu Culture Festival

When: 3 days, end of May
Where: Uribia, La Guajira, Riohacha
Access: The entrance is free

The Wayuu Culture Festival is the most important ethnic festival in Colombia, highlighting the culture of the Wayuu community.

Also recognized as a National Intangible Heritage since 2006, the event attracts more than 15 thousand Wayuu and visitors to share traditions such as medicine, weaving, dance and music for three days.

A key moment is the contest where the Golden Majayut, chosen for her cultural knowledge and Yonna dance skills, becomes a Wayuu ambassador. This festival is essential for anyone wishing to delve deeper into Colombia’s rich indigenous culture.

What will you find at the EWayúu Culture Festival?

  • Craft exhibitions: Women exhibit their work, creating ceramics and weaving hammocks with techniques passed down from generation to generation.
  • Typical gastronomic samples.
  • Theatrical plays
  • Typical dances of the Wayuu culture
  • Majayut: Knowledge show performed by the Wayúu women about their culture, language, and current reality.
  • Contests: Include typical instruments, storytelling, horse races, and traditional dances.
  • Olympics: The Wayúu men practice hand-to-hand combat from infancy to adulthood.

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Baum Festival

When: 2 days, end of May
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: The entrance has a cost

The Baum Festival is the largest electronic music event in Colombia since 2015. Thousands of people come together to enjoy local and international DJs on 4 stages with more than 500,000 watts of sound, on the outskirts of the city, in a club with all the amenities.

It stands out for its diversity, with a strong presence of women and Latin American artists in its line-up, promoting inclusion.

What will you find at Baum Festival?

  • Extreme Sports Competitions: BMX, Inline, Skate, and Parkour.
  • Custom Bikes and Cars Exhibition in the customs area.
  • Live Art: Graffiti, performances, and contests.
  • International Shopping: Explore piggy banks and purchase unique products.
  • VIP and Backstage Area for an exclusive experience.

Colombia’s Festivals in June

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International Tango Festival

When: 1 week, between June and July
Where: Medellín, Antioquia
Access: Entrance is completely free

The International Tango Festival is an event that celebrates tango, a genre rooted in Argentina and Uruguay but with a strong presence in Colombia, especially in Medellín, where Carlos Gardel, one of the greatest exponents, lived and died.

For about a week in June, the artist is honored with a tango dance and singing competition with prizes and categories, in which around 66 national and international artists participate.

What will you find at the International Tango Festival?

  • Dancing lessons
  • Concerts with international artists
  • Rooms for short films and audiovisual content
  • Artistic and musical exhibitions and souvenir shops
  • Conferences and lectures on the history and culture of tango
  • Gastronomic tours
  • Tour to the historical places of tango in Medellín
  • Tango-themed bookstores and libraries
  • Tango city tour (food, spaces, art, culture)
  • Accommodation for tourists
  • Transport service
  • Simultaneous translation for foreign visitors

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San Pedro and San Juan Festivals

When: 1 week, end of June
Where: Tolima, Ibague
Access: Entrance is completely free

Catholicism is key in Colombia, and the festivals of San Pedro and San Juan demonstrate this, celebrated in a big way since colonial times. Espinal and Natagaima, in Tolima, are filled with festivities including pageants, contests, dances like the Bambuco, and even fireworks.

The San Pedro festival starts a week before June 29th, while San Juan in Natagaima brings 5 days of pure joy with Sanjuanero music, uniting the communities. Don’t miss the free concerts by famous folk artists and try some tamales and lechonas, typical of the area.

What will you find at the San Pedro and San Juan Festival?

  • Parades, dances, and comparsas.
  • Firework shows.
  • Fairs and floats with exhibitions of local products and colorful floats.
  • Music bands and orchestras.
  • Typical gastronomy.
  • National and international folklore parade: A musical and cultural event to close the festival on July 2nd.

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Folklore Festival and Bambuco National Beauty Pageant

When: 10 days, end of June
Where: Neiva, Huila
Access: Attendance is completely free

In Neiva, the capital of Huila, nestled among mountains, a huge celebration takes place in the second half of June, combining the Fiestas de San Pedro and San Juan. Before, it was more about going to mass, and sharing sweets like mistela and bizcochuelo with people on the streets.

But now, you should know it has become more about dancing, enjoying, and highlighting Neiva’s culture. Since the 1960s, it started to be called the Folkloric

Festival and National Bambuco Beauty Contest (a Colombian musical genre), and since then, it has been one of the most popular festivals in the country for you to check it out.

What will you find at the Folklore Festival and Bambuco National Beauty Pageant?

  • Folkloric Parades: The streets will fill with color and tradition with parades of floats elaborated by artisans.
  • Music and Dance of Sanjuanero Huilense: The beautiful candidates for the Popular Bambuco Reign will perform this traditional rhythm.
  • Craft Fairs: An opportunity for you to explore and buy local handicrafts.
  • National Meeting of Master Craftsmen: A showcase of the region’s artisanal wealth.
  • Concerts by national and international artists: Enjoy local live music.
  • Bambuco Pageant: Beautiful women from all over the country will compete and demonstrate their abilities by dancing the Sanjuanero.

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Coffee National Festival and Beauty Pageant

When: 10 days, end of June
Where: Calarcá, Quindío
Access: Attendance is completely free

Just 7 kilometers from Armenia, the coffee-famous capital of Quindío, lies Calarcá. Since 1960, Calarcá has been organizing this festival for a long time, born from the search for peace in times of violence. It all started with a night among friends, aguardiente, and the aroma of coffee.

At the end of June, Calarcá fills up with cultural events to entertain you, here you find everything from theater plays to gastronomic exhibits. Coffee lover: you belong here!

Ah! And let’s not forget the beauty contest that chooses the coffee representative at a national and international level, but beyond that, it unites all the regions of Colombia around coffee culture.

What will you find at the Coffee National Festival and Beauty Pageant?

  • Coffee Queen Contest: The national and international coffee representative is crowned.
  • Craft Fair and Market: Find typical products and local handicrafts.
  • Regional Bicycle Meeting: Enjoy exhibitions and competitions on vintage bicycles.
  • Muleteering and Peasant Parade: Highlights the work of animals like mules and horses in the transportation of peasant products.
  • Yipao Contest and Parade: Willys Jeeps loaded with coffee and agricultural products perform spectacular maneuvers.
  • Coffee Parade: A colorful procession that celebrates coffee culture.

Colombia’s Festivals in July

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Hip Hop al Parque

When: 3 days, mid-July
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: Attendance is completely free

Hip Hop al Parque is another of the series of free outdoor music festivals that take place in Bogotá since the mid-1990s, being one of the most important of the genre in Latin America.

On this occasion, for 3 days, great exponents of Hip Hop culture participate in diverse branches: rap, breakdance, DJs, and graffiti.

Do not doubt the quality of the line-up -all participants are selected in internal contests for the different categories of hip hop culture.

What will you find at Hip Hop al Parque?

  • Breakdance battles
  • freestyle battles
  • Graffiti Zone
  • Souvenir stores and businesses

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International Poetry Festival

When: 15 days, early July
Where: Medellín, Antioquia
Access: Attendance is completely free

Since 1991, Medellín has hosted the International Poetry Festival, a cool event because it focuses on poetry. The idea of the festival is to mingle with people, to create an environment where peace, democracy, respect for cultural rights, freedom of expression, life, and care for the planet are key.

At this festival, you’ll meet over 100 poets from more than 45 countries in hundreds of activities, ranging from reading poetry to performing artistic interventions.

What will you find at the International Poetry Festival?

  • Poetry Readings: National and international poets share their verses on various stages, such as theaters, museums, and universities.
  • Talks and Round Tables: Spaces where you can learn about poetry, literature, and relevant topics.
  • Literary Workshops: Here, you can delve into the world of poetry with universal literary figures.
  • Art Exhibitions: Visual poetry, illustrations, and more.
  • Recitals and Performances: Live poetic presentations.
  • Awards and Tributes: Acknowledgments to outstanding poets and their works.

Colombia’s Festivals in August

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Medellín Flower Festival (Feria de las Flores)

When: 10 days, early August
Where: Medellín, Antioquia
Access: Attendance is free.

The Flower Fair (Feria de las Flores) is held in August, over 10 days, and attracts thousands of tourists and locals to pay homage to the country’s most representative flowers and to the Silleteros (farmers who make floral arrangements carried on their backs), to then create a floral parade in different spots through the city.

It’s a festival with many cultural events, yet the silleteros event is the main event you must not miss, as it represents the traditional paisa culture. Today, the Flower Fair is considered the most important festival in Medellín.

What will you find at the Medellín Flower Fair?

  • Parade of classic and antique cars
  • Silleteros parade
  • Musical concerts with salsa, vallenato, pop, rock, reggaeton
  • Entrepreneur fair
  • Examples of typical dances
  • Outdoor markets
  • Horse parade
  • National Trova Competition (music freestyle improve)
  • Cultural spaces to interact with farmers
  • Dragon parade
  • Theater performances
  • Presentations of books and their local authors
  • Guided tour of Medellín neighborhoods
  • Craft stalls
Flower Fair of Medellin

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International Orchids Exhibition

When: 10 days, early August
Where: Medellín, Antioquia
Access: Attendance is completely free

As a part of the Flower Festival, this specialized fair called ‘Orchids, Flowers and Handicrafts’ is held in the Medellín Botanical Garden during the first days of August.

Here you can see over 200 commercial stands offering exclusive handicrafts, food, plants and flowers. Also, 62 orchid samples lay in the garden’s Orquideorama, where 30 artisans show their craft live in front of visitors.

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International Joropo Tournament

When: 6 days, mid-August
Where: Villavicencio, Meta
Access: Attendance is completely free

The International Joropo Tournament in Villavicencio is a huge celebration that boosts tourism and celebrates the Llanero culture.

Imagine more than 5,000 dancers giving their all at the Joropódromo, wearing traditional costumes and dancing in a way that mimics the gallop of horses, an impressive feat that requires being in shape!

Moreover, don’t miss the coleo, that sport where cowboys chase cattle on horseback. Between the dancing, the sport, and the landscapes of the plains, you’re going to love this event.

What will you find at the International Joropo Tournament?

  • Bull Tailing Competitions: Joropo enthusiasts can witness exciting bull-tailing competitions.
  • Llanero Work: You can participate in activities related to Llanero traditions, such as fieldwork and rural life.
  • Gastronomic Festival: You must taste the typical food of the region.
  • Craft Exhibitions: Exhibitions of local crafts, where you can purchase handicrafts.
  • Equestrian Shows and Horse Parades: If you love horses, you will enjoy equestrian exhibitions and horse parades.
  • International Joropo Queen Contest: The queen of Joropo is chosen in a special contest.
  • Joropodromo: You can be part of a massive parade where Llanero music is danced through the city streets.

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Wind and Kites Festival

When: 2 days, mid-August
Where: Villa de Leyva, Boyacá
Access: Attendance is free

The Villa de Leyva Wind and Kite Festival has been held in August since 1975. Imagine the main square of Villa de Leyva and other open spaces filled with kites of different colors and styles flying with the strong winds that arrive in August.

During the festival, competitions are held in various categories, from handmade kites to night-time ones. This event has become one of the most representative of Villa de Leyva both nationally and internationally. You must bring your camera, no excuses!

What will you find at the Wind and Kites Festival?

  • Handmade Kite Exhibition: Both children and adults can show their ingenuity and creativity with handmade kites.
  • Commercial Kites: Category for industrially manufactured kites, which tend to be larger.
  • Kite Trains: Multiple kites connected in a train.
  • Synchronized Kite Flying: A coordinated kite shows in the sky.
  • Giant Kites: Impressive large-sized kites.
  • Nighttime Light Kites: A nighttime show with illuminated kites.
  • Musical Performances and Traditional Dances: Enjoy live music and typical dances.
  • Local Gastronomy Tasting: Sample delicious regional food.

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Summer Festival

When: 10 days, early August
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: Attendance is completely free

Since 1997, Bogotá has chosen to commemorate its foundation and birthday with this great leisure time festival that features different recreational and sports activities. It is deemed to have cultural interest by the city’s council.

The Summer Festival aims to represent the diversity of the city and its inhabitants, besides highlighting the country’s cultural plurality by bringing typical regional celebrations to the capital.

If you visit Bogotá in early August, prepare yourself for a busy schedule. With more than 100 events in Simón Bolívar and El Tunal park, among others, you’ll join over 3 million people enjoying the August wind and sun.

What will you find at the Summer Festival?

Below you can see just some of the events the festival offers:

  • Circus acrobatic performances
  • Grand Prix (athletics races)
  • Observing the night sky of Bogotá
  • Film festivals
  • Literature fairs
  • Route on ecological paths
  • Water challenges
  • Folk dances
  • Theater festivals in the city’s streets, neighborhoods, venues and theaters
  • Gastronomic festivals
  • Live music concerts
  • Sports tournaments in martial arts, football, tennis, etc.
  • Lectures, seminars, and cultural workshops
  • Stalls with handicrafts and themed objects such as souvenirs

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Petronio Álvarez Festival

When: 5 days, mid-August
Where: Cali, Valle del Cauca
Access: Attendance is completely free

The Petronio Álvarez Festival is a cultural event that celebrates the music and traditions of the Colombian Pacific. It takes place every year in the city of Cali in August for 5 days. Here you’ll find approximately 1,500 artists and exhibitors performing musical genres such as currulao, chirimía, bunde, among others.

This festival is a tribute to the composer Petronio Álvarez, considered the father of today’s Pacific music.

You will be at the largest Afro-culture festival in Latin America. Moreover, today, it is one of the most iconic and largest festivals in Cali.

What will you find at Petronio Álvarez Festival?

  • Spaces for reflection on the culture and history of the Pacific, conversations, workshops, and tributes.
  • Musical competitions by various groups from different regions of the Pacific.
  • Concerts with national and international guest artists.
  • Parades of the different communities that live in the Pacific.
  • Fashion catwalks where traditional, representative fabrics are shown.
  • Dining area with typical Pacific food and drinks.
  • Exhibition of local handicrafts.
  • Audiovisual examples with short films of Pacific culture.
  • Literature room with books and magazines.
  • Theatrical performances that recreate myths and legends of the Pacific.

Colombia’s Festivals in September

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Pacific Coast Folklore Festival

When: 5 days, mid-September
Where: Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca
Access: Attendance is completely free

This city located in Valle del Cauca, on the Pacific coast of Colombia, hosts since 1986 a vibrant ethnic event that makes everyone feel traditional Afro beats running through their veins.

The folklore festival of the Colombian Pacific coast was created to highlight the cultural legacy of Afro-descendants living in the region for centuries. In addition, you can enjoy the shows accompanied by traditional liquors from the Pacific coast such as “viche” or “arrechón”, which are especially good to get you in party mode“.

Locals and tourists in this port city live joyfully during the 5 days of the festival, tasting shots of viche or arrechón (traditional liquors) to the sound of currulao.

What will you find at the Pacific Coast Folklore Festival?

  • Parade of regional comparsas and presentation of children’s groups.
  • Queen Contest: Miss Litoral is chosen.
  • Chonta Marimba Contest (called “Peregoyo de Oro” in honor of Enrique Urbano Tenorio, an important exponent of Pacific music).
  • Traditional music live shows: Chonta marimbas, lullabies, and currulao.
  • Tasting of typical foods and drinks, especially viche (a traditional liquor of the Coast) and arrechón.

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World Salsa Festival

When: 1 week, end of September
Where: Cali, Valle del Cauca
Access: Attendance is completely free

World Salsa Festival since 2005 has been established annually, bringing together approximately 4,000 dance talents, both local and foreigners. Basically, you will see lots of orchestras and various educational institutions specializing in salsa, competing in various categories.

Over a week in September, the festival offers a rich agenda that includes dance performances, cultural activities, and musical performances by world-renowned and local artists.

In fact, Cali has been named the salsa capital of the world and reflects its commitment to this musical and dance genre.

  • Fun fact: A notable milestone occured in 2020, when the city set a new Guinness World Record by bringing together nearly 5,000 people dancing simultaneously to the same song.

What will you find at the World Salsa Festival in Cali?

  • Dance competitions of various types of salsa.
  • Musical concerts with guests and local artists.
  • Free classes to perform or learn salsa dancing.
  • Conferences with special guests.
  • Thematic art exhibitions.
  • Space to exchange items, records, instruments, memories, and more.
  • Musical performance space for young people.
  • Humor and story-telling festival.
  • Screening of films, documentaries, and animations with salsa themes.
  • Salsa literary festival with presentations of books, magazines, poems, etc.
  • Gastronomic areas in Cali and Valle del Cauca.

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Green Moon Festival

When: 10 days, mid-September
Where: San Andres island
Access: Attendance has a cost

In San Andrés, the Green Moon Festival celebrates the island’s Creole culture with a focus on artistic, gastronomic, and musical aspects, showcasing its European and African roots.

It is structured around three pillars: the culture of the mountain, the sea, and the coconut, offering academic activities, including studies on Creole language and sporting competitions you must try, like horse racing and sailing.

However, music is the star, with concerts featuring Caribbean genres such as reggae, salsa, and calypso, attracting national and international artists.

What will you find at the Green Moon Festival?

You will be entertained by beach activities such as:

  • Yoga.
  • Surfing.
  • Paddleboarding.
  • Jet ski.
  • Horse racing.
  • Kir surf.
  • Sailing games.
  • Academic activities (learning culture and local languages).

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Jazz al Parque

When: 3 days, mid-September
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: Attendance is completely free.

Jazz al Parque is a music festival that spans three days in September. Since 1995, aimed at promoting and spreading jazz among the local audience through high-quality musical concerts. It includes activities for social inclusion and awareness.

This festival is very popular for its performances, where around 20 local and international artists or groups participate on both physical and virtual live stages, with jazz as the main element.

In fact, it’s interesting because you’ll notice how these artists create and perform other jazz fusions with different musical genres.

What will you find at Jazz al Parque Festival?

  • Food and drink points
  • Parking spot
  • Merchandise and collectors’ stands
  • Gala and presentation of invited jazz groups
  • Academic activities such as lectures and workshops with special guests of international standing
  • Literature areas for all age groups
  • Local businesses and craftsmen stands
  • Children’s area
  • Exchange point for music collections such as CDs, records or collections
  • Allusive photo galleries about the history and development of jazz
  • Film screenings in the park and documentaries on the topic of “jazz”
  • Human statues depicting historical jazz artists
Jazz Festival in Bogotá, Colombia.

Colombia’s Festivals in October

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Opera al Parque

When: 5 days, mid-October
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: Attendance is completely free

For 5 days, the capital of Colombia recreates the historic art tradition that involves singing, playing instruments, and acting with passion.

Opera al Parque is organized by the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra to bring the opera to popular culture, as it usually is reserved for the elite classes.

Its 22nd version in 2019 had scheduled 8 pieces and 17 shows featuring exclusive debuts of plays in Spanish. Sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses perform lyrical pieces from famous international songwriters expecting to leave a message to the public.

What will you find at Opera al Parque Festival?

  • Podcast “Opera by Ear”
  • Symphonic concerts
  • Opera competitions
  • Historical exhibition of the opera
  • Record, vinyl, and sheet music fair
  • Interactive workshops with instruments
  • Conferences and lectures
  • Virtual and in-person concert
  • Lyric Gala with the Youth Philharmonic
  • Exclusive rooms with workshops for deaf and hearing people
  • Literary Picnic
  • Cultural exhibition area
  • Specialist bookstore

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National Tourism Beauty Pageant

When: 4 days, mid-October
Where: Girardot, Antioquia
Access: Attendance is completely free

As you should know by now, Colombia has beautiful women and a lot of festivals. Hence, most festivals reward beauty and charisma with a different focus.

Girardot -this warm town of Cundinamarca that is growing each time more- hosts every October the National Tourism Beauty Pageant, since it is the most visited tourist destination in the province.

Candidates from different Colombian regions get to Girardot to be part of several activities such as the carriages parade and the nautical parade along the Magdalena River.

What you will find at the National Tourism Beauty Pageant?

  • Cavalcades.
  • Folklore demonstrations.
  • Dance troupes.
  • Handicrafts exhibitions.
  • Music shows of local and foreign artists.

You can also visit natural tourist sites that are representative of Girardot. Basically, the winner of the pageant will have the challenge of taking tourism to all national and international stages.

Colombia’s Festivals in November

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Rock al Parque

When: 3 days, mid-November
Where: Bogotá, Colombia
Access: Attendance is completely free

Rock al Parque, the largest free outdoor rock festival in Latin America and the third largest in the world, calls you from Bogotá. Since 1994, this event has not only celebrated rock but also punk, reggae, and many other mixes, promoting tolerance and supporting local bands.

Moreover, each year, between September and November, Parque Simón Bolívar fills with music for 3 days with multiple stages, also national and international bands, but here you have everything, from food areas to souvenirs. If rock is your thing, you must experience this.

What will you find at Rock al Parque?

  • Rock culture walking tour with public places in the city to enjoy live music
  • Extreme Zone for enjoying harder genres (Extreme Metal, Core, Punk and Crossover)
  • Business area and stands with T-shirts and accessories
  • Area with dining rooms
  • Workshops to explore the musical diversity of rock and metal
  • Literature section with magazines and books about rock culture in Colombia and the world
  • Conversations with experts and musicians about rock culture and its development in Colombia
  • Area for carrying out social integration activities
  • Park landscape
  • Digital zone with audiovisual content about the events

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National Beauty Contest

When: 10 days, mid-November
Where: Cartagena, Bolívar
Access: Attendance has a cost

The National Beauty Contest of Cartagena is held every November in the walled city. Essentially, between 25 and 29 young women from various regions of the country compete in events such as swimsuit parades, sportswear, and evening gown presentations.

In addition, the contestants undergo personal interviews in order to evaluate their:

  • Beauty.
  • Intelligence.
  • Communication skills.

Just before choosing the new queen of Colombian beauty.

With more than 60 editions calling together the most outstanding female beauty in the country, it is the most important beauty contest in the country.

What will you find at the National Beauty Contest?

  • Craft fairs and local activities
  • Parades with typical costumes of local artisans
  • Tour to visit the historical places of Cartagena
  • Parades in swimsuits
  • Gala parades
  • Walks through the old town
  • Tour of the National Beauty Contest Headquarters
  • Areas with dining rooms

Colombia’s Festivals in December

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Lights Festival

When: 3 days early December
Where: Villa de Leyva, Boyacá
Access: Attendance is completely free

In Villa de Leyva, Christmas celebrations begin early in December with the Festival of Lights.

Essentially, the residents of the municipality decorate balconies, sidewalks, and terraces with lanterns and colored candles to commemorate the Day of the Immaculate Conception (a Catholic celebration).

You really need a camera to take a lot of photos. Just imagine the lights on the cobblestone streets and the white facades of the place. This festival becomes a unique spectacle for tourists who arrive each year from every corner of the world.

What you will find at the Lights Festival?

  • Gastronomy of Boyacá
  • Christmas choirs
  • Craft fairs
  • Music live shows
  • Street movie projections
  • Firework shows
Christmas tour Boyacá Colombia

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Aguinaldo Boyacense

When: 1 week, early December
Where: Tunja, Boyacá
Access:

  • Participation in the festival is free. Generally, 80% of the live music concerts attendance capacity is free of charge.
  • But here is the deal, if you want to have a better view of the stage at some spots, you have to pay.

Before celebrating Christmas, Tunja receives thousands of tourists who arrive looking for an incredible experience. It went from disguised policemen that took Christmas to the streets in 1955, to a cultural heritage event loved by boyacenses and foreigners.

What will you find at the Aguinaldo Boyacense?

  • Carriages parade.
  • Dance troupes.
  • Costumes.
  • Music shows.
  • Sports.
  • Children competitions.

This festival lasts 1 week and each day focuses on a music genre, so you can choose which shows you want to go to.

As a plus, you can tour this colonial city, with the biggest main square among the Hispanic towns in Latin America, decorated with colorful lights that highlight the beauty of its architecture.

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Cali Fair

When: 5 days,  December 25th-30th
Where: Cali, Valle del Cauca
Access: Attendance is free

The Cali Fair was founded in 1957 as a year-end celebration, initially designed to promote local industry and commerce, and quickly became a major cultural festival with music, dance, and sports events.

It is the largest festival in Valle del Cauca, the city is filled with music, dance and gastronomy. In addition, you find a varied program with more than 70 activities and cultural events.

This festival goes beyond dance and entertainment; it is a window to the local Valle del Cauca and Colombian culture. Every year more than 10,000 artists join the festival and today it continues to be an emblematic festival at a national level.

What will you find at the Cali Fair?

  • Parade of salsa dancers
  • Meeting of music lovers and music collectors
  • Classical cars parade
  • Thematic events with gastronomy, fireworks, and recreational activities
  • Musical shows by artists with high national and international renown
  • Rural and community fairs with sports, environmental, and artistic activities
  • Outdoor theater performances
  • Regional gastronomic fairs
  • Taurine fairs
  • Comedy events
  • Book fairs
  • Cultural cinema events in different points in the city
  • Local handicrafts exhibition
  • Carnival folklore parades
  • Instrumental and orchestral events
Nightlife in Cali, salsa dancers

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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