WASHINGTON: August just may be the best month of the year. After all, its Happiness Happens Month, American Adventures Month and it is even National Catfish Month! In Cali, Colombia, August celebrates the Petronio Alvarez Pacific Music Festival month. During this annual celebration musicians and artisans come together to celebrate Afro-Colombian music in one of the most important cultural events in the country.
22nd Petronio Alvarez Pacific Music Festival
From August 15th to the 20th, festival-goers will enjoy 44 musical groups. Those groups will compete for financial prizes and the chance to record an album.
“The festival discloses four modalities,” states Luz Adriana Betancourt, Cali’s secretary for culture. “The open category is the modern and commercial one, that fuses traditional music with other rhythms. There is violin from Cauca made of bamboo. Marimba is a category in between modern and traditional, because it became so popular in the last years, that this instrument already has a refined and traditional version. Finally, there’s the chirimía (Colombian bagpipe).”
During the Festival, guests will also enjoy traditional cuisine, live cooking shows, as well as local art and fashion.
“Nowadays, there are also juries for the food vendors, who must prepare some dishes in the Sena Food School to be chosen,” Betancourt says. “This allows the Festival to have the best local food to offer.”
“The aesthetics became important,” Betancourt continues. “Afro-descendants came beautifully dressed because this event is as special as any festivity. Vendors saw an opportunity, and those who sell turbans, hair accessories and clothes asked for slots to sell their products.”
“By all the above, [it] is clear that music dragged along other industries (handicrafts, food, and fashion) that are now taking part [in] this growing festival. Petronio had to change venues many times due to the audience growth, now to be located at the sport complex, Alberto Galindo.” Betancourt says “Even if foreigners don’t understand the lyrics, they can feel the energy filled with spirituality, peace, and joy that surrounds everyone. This is a great differentiating factor from other music festivals around the world.”
Beyond the Petronio Festival
While the Petronio Festival is a must-see, there is an abundance of other things to experience, such as bird watching at Finca Alejandria, approximately 30 minutes outside of Cali, where you can relax and observe over 100 various bird species in their natural habitat. If your itinerary keeps you in the city, visit The Set Showroom, where you’ll find exclusive luxury jewelry and accessories from local designers, including unique Colombian handmade purses from PompaRosa and exquisite necklaces and rings from Lâle.
Feast on the local vegetarian fare like tofu and quinoa steak burger or chickpea crepe at El Buen Alimento. HOM (Healthy Organic Market) makes a mean almond milk smoothie and offers gluten-free snacks for those on the go.
The La Alameda Market is in the heart of the city. The market offers fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs from over 500 merchants.
Eat to your heart’s content because Cali will keep you in shape with Salsa classes at Swing Latino salsa academy. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, professional instructors will have you bustin’ a move in no time. There’s just no escaping the rhythm in Cali!