Cultural boom as Barranquilla prepares for arts festival

The Caribbean coast city of Barranquilla gears up to welcome visitors for the 5th year of its colorful arts festival.

Gabriel García Márquez once said that “in Barranquilla, no reputation lasts three days,” but times have changed since he uttered these words, and the northern city is now well-known for hosting one of the richest cultural events in Colombia. The festival, which runs from February 16 – 20, and drew in 30,000 visitors last year, features a diverse collusion of artists, musicians, filmmakers, journalists, writers and photographers. It comes weeks before the more famous Barranquilla Carnival, a fiesta of parades and dancing, which takes place March 5 – 8.

Efraim Medina Reyes, one of the organizers of the event, and who himself is a writer, musician and journalist, believes that the festival has an important role for Barranquilla, and Colombia itself. “It is important because there is an interaction with the public, [the festival] creates workshops, works with universities, cultural centers, [and even] a free children’s event called ‘Fantástico,'” he told Colombia Reports.

The children’s event, he said, will invite creative people from all over the world to design something to stimulate the imagination of children.

These type of social programs are of the utmost importance because “in a country where domestic violence reaches very high levels,” he says, it is crucial that “the city slowly develops a sense of belonging to the event.”

Among the musical acts this year will be the acclaimed Zimbabwean Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, which Reyes believes will help to make the event one “of inclusion, where all social components must be present.”

Full listings can be found here. Tickets to all events are free, although limited space at the opening ceremony means that seats at the Teatro Amira de La Rosa must be booked in advance.

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