There is nothing to do in Bogotá

Festejo Pachone is a crowdfunded music estival in Bogotá, Colombia that disproves the perception of the city is culturally lacking.

Photo: Pedro Szekely, via Flickr CC.

About five years ago, three friends and I gathered in an apartment in downtown Bogotá, Colombia, and decided to create an online radio station. We called it Radio Pachone. We didn’t know how to properly record sound, or how to produce a show, or how to edit audio, but we were sure that there were many things that we wanted to talk about and that they weren’t being mentioned in mainstream media.

So we looked online, we reached out for help, we asked people to loan us equipment and, since the very first show, new friends started to join us, excited to contribute their knowledge to make this thing even better. Our small radio-thing immediately started to become larger than we had ever thought.

We had planned to use it to talk about music, movies and artists from Colombia and Latin America (and beyond) that we enjoyed but had minimal (or no) coverage in local media. Yet, soon we were debating pressing cultural issues with committed and interesting artists and activists. We were doing beautiful soundscapes and sound experiments. We were broadcasting live concerts from our studios – which began as that apartment’s living room, and then moved to anywhere we could fit – and not only with Colombian bands, but also with people coming from all over the world.

We were meeting a lot of incredible, talented people, but many of them had trouble making a living from doing the things they loved (just like us, who worked in Radio Pachone for free). So we joined forces with our friends from Fundación Rema and we decided to create a festival where all of the interesting people we had met – and the others that we knew were out there – could meet each other, create networks, debate arts, culture and beyond and, hopefully, start new projects together.

We wanted it to be an open, inviting festival, where the attendants would be as important as the people showcasing their work, so we called it Festejo (or “Celebration”). After crowdfunding and navigating the always intricate bureaucracy of the city, we staged the first Festejo Pachone in June, 2013.

It was a blast. Bogotá’s unpredictable rain came and went with the violence of an insecure emperor’s army, but also about a thousand people came and went through the live discussions, the live music shows and the stands for independent artists, designers, publishers, record labels and so on that we had lined up that day.

After its success, my friends from Radio Pachone (when I had already moved away) staged the second Festejo Pachone in 2014, also in Bogotá. The city backed down from giving the permit to use a public park for it less than a day before it was scheduled to happen. Fortunately, there are now many friends around this project and, with their help, the Festejo II still happened that day, just in a different location.

This Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th, the third Festejo will happen in Bogotá, and if you happen to be around, you really should attend. It will be a great showcase of interesting things happening around the city, which are plentiful.

(When we started, I remember saying that we wanted to make people stop saying “there is nothing to do in Bogotá,” because there were always many things to attend, you just had to lose that mentality and venture out there. Now, the Festejo is part of the Capital de Festivales movement, a group of year-round festivals and events that give bogotanos a lot to do.)

At the third Festejo, there will be booths for independent creators, there will be discussions about the state of arts and culture in the city, the country, the region and the world, and there will be 12 concerts by bands coming from Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

Most of this will be free (except for things happening on Saturday after 9:00 Pm, when you would have to pay 15,000 pesos, or about 5 U.S. dollars) and most of it will happen right at the heart of Chapinero, our spiritual home in Bogotá.

Saturday will be at La Ventana de la T (Carrera 12A # 83-61). Sunday will be at Casa 9-69 (Carrera 9 # 69-07).

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?