Petronio Álvarez music festival: Sounds of the pacific

By Artemis Maria Papoutsakis August 11, 2019
Traditional violines caucanos at Petronio Álvarez
Traditional violines caucanos. Photo: Lady Castro, Flickr

This year’s Petronio Álvarez Festival is a celebration of all things Pacific that will take place in Cali from August 14 to 19.

The Petronio Álvarez Festival is more than an annual competition of traditional Pacific music, it is a festival by and for people from the whole region.

People of all ages come from near and far to celebrate all aspects of Pacific culture and heritage in what is the most important date on the regional calendar.

Chirimía at the festival. Photo: Sol Robayo, Flickr

The festival takes its name from one of the original interpreters and composers of Colombian rhythms, Petronio Álvarez. It pays tribute to his legacy by conserving the identity and traditions of the afro descendant population, who are often underrepresented in mainstream cultural spaces in Colombia.

Related: 5 recommendations to make the best out of the Petronio Álvarez Pacific music festival.

These are oral traditions, and the festival is an opportunity for songs and techniques to be passed from one generation to the next. You’ll hear the likes of marimba, guasá, flutes and clarinets building up to a musical frenzy. Away from the main stage, there are a variety of food stands with fresh pacific dishes that go great with viche, the local drink of preference. 

The main stage is powerful. Photo Artemis Maria Papoutsakis

Plus, you’ll see peak Pacific fashion, not only at the cultural fashion shows, but also in the material and clothing designs of the outfits worn by women who have meticulously braided and weaved their hair.

Petronio has grown dramatically in size and popularity in its 22 years of existence – moving to bigger venues on three separate occasions to support the now 600,000 attendees. Come ready to wave your hands in the air and be part of an artistic celebration that unites the Colombian Pacific.

Need to know

This year’s Festival takes place at the Unidad Deportiva Alberto Galindo in Cali, from August 14 to 19. Entrance is free.