2012 Manizales Fair kicks off coffee region festivities

The 2012 Manizales Fair, taking place January 2-8, will host a huge variety of artisan and craft exhibitions, accompanied by specialty coffees and gastronominical delights.

The festival, now in its 56th year, is hosted in the city of Manizales in Colombia’s central coffee region. Starting out as a trade fair, it has grown over the years to become one of Colombia’s most important annual events.

Two hundred musical, sports and cultural events will take place across the week of the festival, with multiple stages hosting concerts and performances by famous Colombian artists such as Dario Gomez, Andy Montañez, Don Omar and Juan Luis Guerra.

This year’s opening ceremony will see a procession of two thousand horseriders from different regions of Colombia parading through the main streets of the city.

Colombia’s bullfighting season, which kicked off this week, will also have a strong presence at the festival. Prominant national and international matadors will take part in events including a bull run on Monday, and Friday’s Bullfighting Festival.

Another of the festival’s big draws is its international beauty pageant, which will see representatives from American countries including Brazil, Venezuela, Panama and the United States, along with Colombia’s hopeful, compete to be crowned International Coffee Queen.

This year’s festival has been named the “Fair of Hope”, with organizers expressing their wish that it might bring a sense of unity and solidarity to a region that has been hit hard by tragedy in 2011. The second rainy season of the year caused several devestating landslides in Manizales, including one in November that killed 48 people.

A full program of events and ticket information can be found on the festival’s official website.

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