Colombia’s Vibrant Cultural Highlights You Must See

Be captivated by Colombian music, see influential art and watch a soccer game to really experience Colombia's culture.

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Photo © Gregg Bleakney

Colombia’s culture varies from region to region, with unique traditions woven from historical events, geographical positions, and forces of nature. Our local insider Jacqui explores a slice of Colombian life.

Meet coffee farmers in Antioquia and cowboys in the plains of Los Llanos.

Get taken thousands of miles to Africa along the Pacific Coast, where the African descendants’ traditions and beliefs have fused with modern culture.

Appreciate the knowledge of the indigenous people who continue to live in the mountains and jungles throughout Colombia.

And of course, relish the fiery Spanish culture that has been adopted, adapted, and elaborated (perhaps, even perfected).

Be Captivated by the Rhythm

Music and dance are a huge part of Colombian culture, so no trip to Colombia will be complete without a night out dancing to salsa, vallenato, reggaeton, cumbia, or champeta.

Whether it's a pumping nightclub in Bogota, a beach bar, or a tienda; the music (and rhythm) is gonna get you.  

Don't miss out on the chance to watch live performances of Colombian musicians—Carlos Vives, ChocQuibTown, Bazurto All Stars, or Systema Solar. They will rock your socks off.

Witness the true musical culture and heritage of the Colombian Caribbean coast at the Barranquilla Carnival. The 4-day festival shows visitors the real passion and dedication that the local costeños have towards their traditions…and a good party.

For a non-stop celebration, head to La Feria de Cali, where salsa fever is the number one illness in December.

For five days, the city turns into an extravagance of live shows, street parties, and dance championships all moving to one single rhythm: salsa.

For more of an African vibe, the Petronio Alvarez Festival held in Cali every August, is sure to get your feet stomping.

Every year, the Rock al Parque music festival in Bogotá offers three days of head banging and mosh-pitting. Showcasing both local and international bands, the festival unites music-lovers and promotes diversity within the capital.

Enjoy international theatre, dance, and circus performances at the biennial Ibero-American Theatre Festival that swoops down onto Bogotá and converts the city into a grand stage.

Be enchanted by Medellín, the “city of eternal spring”, at its annual Feria de Las Flores (Flowers Fair) that celebrates the city’s cultural identity and heritage to flower horticulture.

Don’t miss the Silleteros Parade, where huge flower arrangements depicting the region’s history and culture are carried on traditional silletas, a structure that allows farmers to carry flowers on their backs.

Influential Artists

Colombia’s most famous artist is Fernando Botero; a figurative artist and sculptor from Medellín.

His exaggerated and voluptuous sculptures and still-life paintings led to the creation of the “Boterismo” signature art style. His work can be seen in the Botero Plaza and the Museum of Antioquia in Medellín, as well the Botero Museum in Bogotá.

Gabriel García Márquez, a literary genius and master of magic realism, took his childhood experiences and created a literary world in which unbelievably strange circumstances and the reality of Colombia and his hometown of Aracataca were peculiarly knitted together. Traveling throughout Colombia, it’s easy to notice how easily the line between fact and fiction is frequently blurred.

Soccer

Red or yellow t-shirts, people leaving work early, and shops closing are all signs that Colombia is going to play a soccer match.

As a national favorite pastime, soccer unites Colombians, and when you hear Gooooooooooooooool, know that Colombia has gained a higher position on the “the world’s most happiest countries” ranking.

The largest stadium is El Metropolitano in Barranquilla, and is the home ground of Colombia’s national soccer team.

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