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It seems that hardly day goes by with out some kind of festival in some corner of Colombia. To begin with every town and village has its patron saint; and in addition to those and other religious celebrations, usually financed by the community, there are regional or municipal events held around a crop or a product, such as coffee, flowers, cocoa, coal and so on.

Festivals fall into three main groups- carnivals, religious events and folk festivals. The most famous of the carnivals is in Barranquilla, attracting thousands of visitors every year for four days of processions, music and dance groups- a blend of the legacies of the indigenous peoples, Africa and old Spain- which ends on Ash Wednesday eve.

In Pasto, Nariño, the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros is held on January 5-6 every year, with outstanding displays of craftmanship in floats portraying legends and traditions, and some ironic references to current events in Colombia.

In Riosucio, Caldas, The Devilis Canival is held every two years in late December or early January, with song, mime and declamation. Other popular festivals are held in Cali and Manizales, in December and January; the bullfights, presenting the world's most famous the most talented accordion players in the land. Music is the centrepiece of many such events- the Caribbean music festival in Cartagena, the porro in San Pelayo, the cumbia in El Banco, the tiple in Velez, bands in Paipa, or the Luna Verde in San Andres are just a few of them.

Music is indeed an important item on the long list of popular traditions which synthesize the blend of races in Colombia: each region has its own style of song and rhythm. The coast has the merecumbé, porro, mapalé, currulao, cumbia and vallenato, vigorous music with a strong beat led by percussion, in the spirit of the African tradition, bringing even the most timid dancer to the floor. In the islands, the predominant style is reggae, expressing the sense of brotherhood shared with others in the Caribbean of the Anglo-Saxon (rather than Spanish) and the African heritage. Inland, there is the sanjaunero, especially popular in Neiva, the joropo and the galeron, in which the harp, the treble clarinet, the maracas and the four-string guitar are the regular group for an event in the llanos. Cali is the home of salsa, whose popularity has spread across the country. In the Amazon basin and its exotic jungle, and in the Guajira in the Nrtheast, music and dance are still in the ancestral style of the indigenous inhabitants.*

* Source: "Colombia" , published by Corporación Nacional de Turismo Colombia. Information provided by Permanent Mission of Colombia to the OAS.





Updated: 19 March 2008