The 2011 Feria de Cali will bring the year to a close in a whirlwind of music, parades, dancing, parties, bull-fights, antique cars and concerts featuring world-renowned artists.
The post-Christmas revelry in Colombia’s third largest city will last for six days from December 25 through 30 and will feature artists such as Venezuelan Oscar D’Leon, Cuban Los Van Van, and Colombia’s very own Wilson Saoco.
In an interview with Colombia Reports Helbert Zambrano, director of operations at Corfercali, the corporation which runs the feria, said; “We really hope that this year will be bigger than last year (…) now there is new interaction between the public and the feria”.
“The feria had lost its status, its condition as a popular event, an event of the people, and it had become a completely privatized event (…) We have returned the feria to the people. All our events are free, except for some seats in the Salsodromo”.
For the fourth year running the “Salsodromo” will kick off festivities at noon on December 25. It is a 5-hour long, half mile parade that sees the 25 best salsa schools in the city shimmy through the streets. The event is not a competition between schools however, but a cultural celebration.
Of the 18,000 seats available for the Salsodromo, 8,000 will be free. The paid-for seats will cost COP 64,000 ($33) and are available from www.tuboleto.com.
According to Zambrano “Tourists and people with resources will have the possibility to be more comfortably seated.” Zambrano highlighted the recognition that the Salsodromo has gained from Colombian and international audiences.
The director of operations explained that in the past the opening event of the festival was the horse-riding parade but this has been delayed until December 26 because post-Christmas merry-makers “were drunk, mistreating the animals and putting the public at risk”. He added “Now there are not the liquor-induced situations that there were before,” as Colombians celebrate Christmas on December 24.
December 29 is Dia del Pacifico and music and food from the Pacific region will be celebrated through the morning until 2PM, allowing festival-goers to enjoy culinary delicacies such as seafood cocktails and swing to the sound of the clarinet-based chirimias.
Of course the city will be reverberating to the salsa beat, but there will also be a rock concert on the opening day, as well as a ballad concert on December 28.
During the festival there will also be a parade of classic cars for motor enthusiasts, a youth concert, bull running, the Old Cali parade, as well as floats with musicians and dancers.
The Encuentro de Melomanos y Coleccionistas on December 26, a gathering of music-lovers and collectors, is “absolutely Caleño” according to Zambrano.
Apart from Venezuelan salsa legend Oscar D’Leon and Cuban carnival dance troop Guaracheros de Regla, other artists in attendence will be Cali’s own Wilson Saoco y la Dinastia, and an orchestra called La Misma Gente.
Feria de Cali 2011 will be closed by a megaconcert featuring Cuba’s Los Van Van, Colombia’s La Sonora Ponceña and Orquestra la Selecta, El Guayacan, Willy Garcia, La Gran Banda Caleña, and “our best local orchestra” El Grupo Niche.
Full details of event times and locations are avaiable at www.feriadecali.com.
The Feria de Cali first took place in 1957 and lasted 40 days. It was originally known as the the Feria of Sugarcane. Over the years it has featured salsa heavy-weights such as Celia Cruz, Richie Rey and Bobbie Cruz.