Colombia, what an intriguing destination to discover. Situated in the northwest of South America, Colombia is home to some of the world’s most inspiring sights including diverse landscapes and unspoiled Caribbean coast, enigmatic archaeological ruins, friendly and hospitable locals, cobbled colonial communities, and of course, the spectacular Amazon jungle. Amongst Colombia’s incredible charm and extraordinary culture, lies some of the countries best celebrations and festivals laced with plenty of food, wine, music, dancing and laughter, attracting many travellers from all over the world. We share with you our top five festival celebrations that you must see on your next trip to Colombia!
1. Petronio Alvarez Pacific Music Festival
Colombia is home to an incredible culture which can be best understood through its music and sounds. Petronio Alvarez Pacific Music Festival is held annually in Cali in August and is an important festival for those who are interested in learning about the Afro-Colombian social heritage and culture. The festival includes plenty of song and dance with spectacular artist performances and delicious food and drinks. Petronio Alvarez Pacific Music Festival is a great place to mingle with locals, socialise with other travellers and have a great time!
2. Cali Fair
Held annually from the 25th to the 30th of December, the Cali Fair is one of the most important traditional celebrations in Colombia and across South America. The fair consists of events such as concerts, bull fights, beauty pageants, fashion shows, some of the most famous musicians in the world, and of course, being one of the biggest drawcards for many travellers to Colombia, their famous salsa festivals which are also held during the fair. The Cali Festival prides itself on creating a fantastic and true carnivalesque atmosphere which draws thousands of people each year.
3. Hay Festival
The Cartagena Hay Festival is held each year in January and is one of the most important international literary festivals in Colombia. Novels, plays, workshops, exhibitions and conferences are enjoyed by attendees. The Hay Festival lasts for four days during the last week of January and brings together journalists, writers, poets and musicians from Colombia and all over the world. Attendees enjoy sharing and discussing literary work throughout the workshops and discussion groups, as well as receiving feedback and inspiration from others.
4. Festival of Flowers
The festival of Flowers or Feria de las Flores in Spanish, is held annually from the 3rd– 8th August in Medellin. It is known to be the most important social event for the city and showcases artistic events, concerts, a parade of vintage cars, paso fino horses, an orchid exposition, and most importantly, the flower parade. Attendees enjoy the vivid colours, incredible music and beautifully crafted flower creations as over 1000 people walk through the streets showcasing their incredible work.
5. Festival of the Pacific Migration
Every August in Nuquí & Bahía Solano, whales living off the southern coast of Chile, begin their 8000km migration up to the Colombian Pacific coast to give birth and raise their young. It is a truly rare experience to encounter these incredible mammals and few come close to the sight of a giant humpback breaching in open water. The pacific migration season in Colombia runs from July through to November, with the annual festival being celebrated in July/ August. The Festival of the Pacific Migration has an array of parades, theatre and musical performances, food tastings, painting, photography and many other activities.
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.