The most authentic way to get to know the idiosyncrasies of the caribbean is by attending some of the free music festivals in the towns surrounding Cartagena. We will let you know about the festivals which best represent the local sounds that act as an expression of the happiness of the people. At these festivals you will have the opportunity to gain meaningful cultural experiences and new friends along the way during your journey through Colombia.
Drum Festival - San Basilio de Palenque
This festival takes place in the town of San Basilio de Palenque, which sits only 55 kilometres away from Cartagena, every year from the 9th to the 12th of October. The schedule of the event, which began in 1985, includes percussion workshops, palenquero language lessons, and appearances by musical groups that come from all over the world, with most performers coming directly from Africa.
How to get there
From the Cartagena bus terminal, take the bus to Mahates (1hr and 20mins) which stops at the entrance of Palenque before going on to Mahates. From the bus stop, take a motorcycle taxi (15 mins) to Palenque.
Bolivarense Accordion Festival - Arjona
“No sé qué tiene el acordeón de comunicativo que cuando lo oímos se nos arruga el sentimiento” Garcia Márquez said once .
The accordion is one of the most typical instruments of the Colombian coast. Every year, in the month of July, the town of Arjona, which is very close to Cartagena (40 mins), invites competitors from all over the country in order to crown the king of the accordion.
How to get there:
The easiest way to get there, especially if you are going with a group of friends who want to visit different places around Cartagena, is to take a taxi from the centre of the city to Arjona which will cost about $45 - $50USD each way.
If you would like more information about this festival, click here
National and International Folk Festival - Cartagena de Indias
This annual event brings together the best folk music groups in the country for 4 days in late May or the first few weeks of June. Unlike the other festivals mentioned above, this one takes place in Cartagena. You can get more information about the festival here.
National Flute Festival - San Jacinto
The Colombian flute is perhaps the most vivid and authentic musical expression of Colombia’s caribbean coast. This festival takes place in commemoration of the ancestral flutists of the area in the month of August. The festival features performances by school groups, amateur flutists, and professionals that show off their skills while also paying tribute to their flute teachers as homenaje to the original minstrels of the Colombian flute. The festival is characterized by the beauty of the landscape of San Jacinto, as well as its strong artisanal culture.
How to get there:
San Jacinto is located in the southern part of the department of Bolivar, 2 hours and 20 minutes from Cartagena. From the bus terminal in Cartagena Expreso Brasilia USD6.
With the travel agency UCROS TRAVEL you can also coordinate a tour to San Jacinto.
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