With one of the richest musical cultures in the Americas, Colombia has added rock to its repertoire. Devout fans of the music that inspired generations of American and British teenagers since the 1950s have been gathering every year in Bogotá’s Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park for Rock al Parque (Rock in the Park), the region’s largest annual rock festival.
In past years, the three-day event has attracted up to 30,000 listeners (and dancers). This year’s 19th annual concert, from June 29 to July 1, will feature subgenres like metal, ska, punk, and alternative rock on three separate stages.
A musician’s guild started Rock al Parque in 1994 to encourage tolerance and inclusion through music. The festival caught on and has been free of charge since its second year. The concept is now part of Colombia’s “cultural patrimony,” boasts Andrés Cardona, who coordinates the concert under the auspices of the Instituto Distrital de las Artes (District Institute of the Arts—IDARTES), a Bogotá municipal agency under the purview of the capital district’s Secretariat of Culture, Recreation and Sport.
At least 15 international groups have been invited this year, as well as six Colombian bands and 12 local artists from Bogotá—the local musicians either performing live or contributing to the festival’s discography. Past Bogotano artists have included Systema Solar, 1280 Almas and Profetas. Less established groups also have a chance to be involved in the Rock events: an organizing committee sponsors a band competition each year and selects 30 winners from a field of hundreds of contestants.
And the fun doesn’t end with the last guitar chord at Bolívar Park. This year, organizers plan to reprise last year’s successful post-festival event, a two-week celebration of rock music throughout the capital called Avenida Ciudad Rock (City Rock Avenue). Rock al Parque-sanctioned bands will perform at bars and clubs throughout Bogotá. Cardona expects it to go even longer this year.
However, rock fans need not be present in the park to enjoy the festival. Two Colombian radio stations, Canal Capital and Radiónica, stream the concert and organizers are further promoting the festival through live web broadcasts and social media.