As the 58th annual Manizales Festival returns January 3, the western-Colombian city is setting off 2014 with a myriad of art and sporting activities to showcase the coffee-making and Andean region’s rich cultural heritage.
The festival’s Spanish roots run deep, with traits of Seville’s April “Feria” recognizable in the colorful dress, dance and unmissable “corridas” — bullfights.
The bullfighting season is the most characteristic trait of the Caldas state capital’s January festival, along with the International Queen of Coffee beauty pageant (Reinado Internacional de Cafe). A legacy more than half a century old, this beauty contest showcases the region’s prize product, coffee, while each year welcoming more than 20 contestants from all over the world.
Around 170,000 people will be filling the streets during the parades which will include appearances by this year’s 25 contestants for the beauty queen title and the sixth National Body Art Festival of Tattoos, Body Painting, Piercing and Accessories. An artisan flea market will also take over the city’s Bellas Artes neighborhood, while some streets will make way for the festival’s box-cart race.
International as well as local artists will be gracing the stage at Manizales, where alongside concerts there will be art and dance shows, artisan expositions and various parades and processions.
Manizales’ adrenaline-packed monster truck show is another one of its main attractions, taking place in the cycle track of the Universidad de Caldas. This year brings the exciting new addition of the Demolition Derby, in which monster trucks crash and collide until they break each other apart.
Among the sporting events available to tourists and locals alike are the Neon Run on January 5 — a neon-crazy 5km race accompanied by electronic music in which more than 8,000 people are expected to take part – an international billiards tournament, adventure hikes, yoga, mountain biking, bird watching and variety of dances.
More than three quarters of the 365 events put up by this unique festival – which also features cinema, motocross, folklore and much more — will be free for all to enjoy.
Manizales’ local coffee and licors – the “Ron Viejo de Caldas”and the aguradiente “Cristal,” – as well as its renowned chorizos and corn-based dishes, will gather crowds in the festival’s many “fondas” — eateries. Farmers and rustically-dressed mule-drivers will be glad to tell stories of when travelling the land was only possible by mule, while these will also be the setting for a multitude of cultural and artistic events.
This year’s Manizales’ festival will last from Friday January 3 until Sunday January 12. As the capital of Caldas, the city is located in the country’s mid-west reason, and the warmth and friendliness of its people has given it the nickname of the “City of Open Doors.”
- Lo que no se puede perder de la feria de Manizales (El Tiempo)
- La Feria de Manizales (Official event page)
- Programación Feria de Manizales 2014 (Viaja por Colombia)
- Manizales – Feria de Manizales (Instituto de Cultura y Turismo; Alcaldía de Manizales)