Along with Mexico City and Buenos Aires, Bogotá has always stood out among Latin American capitals due to its intellectual and cultural spirit. Many art fairs and festivals are held throughout the year, crossing the borders and becoming significant world-class events, with guests and visitors from across the globe.
In fact, some of the following festivals have been responsible for increasing Bogotá’s reputation as one of Latin America’s main cultural hubs.
Created in 1988 by Fanny Mickey –an Argentinian actress who stands out as one of the greatest in our country’s cultural legacy–, the Ibero-American Theater Festival of Bogotá is the most important cultural events in Colombia, and one of the world’s major art festivals. With more than 15 editions, FITBO (by its Spanish acronym) has become an unparalleled global celebration that every two years, for 17 days, turns the city into the world’s capital of theater.
In each edition, FITBO takes over the city’s main stages, streets and parks. The performing arts, usually labeled high-brow, are made available to everyone. In fact, street theater has a key role during the festival. Moving –and often colossal– street performances and parades are held for free, making the city the world’s largest stage for more than two weeks.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Bogotá’s Ibero-American Theater Festival is a multi-disciplinary adventure where all performing arts come together thanks to art companies visiting from countless places: ranging from mimes and puppets, to dancers, circuses and art performers. Plus, in celebrating culture, the festival also offers lectures and conferences on music, diversity and, of course, theater.
Created in 2005 by the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá, in order to strengthen the local arts and position the city as a cultural destination, ArtBo is Colombia’s major art fair and one of its most relevant events. It is held every year, in September/October. During its last edition, in 2018, 3,000 works by more than 300 artists were exhibited.
ArtBo’s origins result from the suddenly increasing interest of local art collectors in the mid-2000s and the need to rebrand Colombia, which, in turn, resulted from the country’s economic boom and a new era of peace and safety after years of conflict.
Today, ArtBo is one of the region’s largest art fairs, second only to Zona Maco in Mexico City. Its reputation has sky-rocketed recently, being nicknamed Latin America’s Art Basel.
Emerging just five years ago, Barcú has managed to establish itself as one of the country’s most important artistic events. It is held annually in October, usually after ArtBo and alongside other relevant art fairs, during what has come to be known as the “Month of the Arts”.
Barcú has been deemed the black sheep of Bogotá’s artistic scene, since it has set new and modern standards for other traditional arts fairs. Barcú’s creator, Christopher Paschall, took inspiration from his trips to several world capitals, where he was able to witness how some of their historic districts were used to display art.
Thus, Barcú was born. Every year the fair takes over old buildings located in La Candelaria (Bogotá’s historic center), rejecting the white-cube gallery format that arts fairs typically use. Today, Barcú has grown to span across different forms of art, from music and literature, to theater, filming and visual arts.
A couple of years ago, Bogotá’s reputation as an artistic hub in the region was taken to the next level. By combining the best of arts, technology and architecture, the city center gets brighter to offer an amazing visual and interactive experience with light installations from different countries.
Lit opens with the traditional evening ciclovía –a recreational event when the city’s main streets become car-free for bikers, runners and skaters, shops close later and performances are held in the city parks– and extends along the Eje Ambiental (Environmental Axis) – a large pedestrian promenade on which some of the most relevant tourist attractions are located. This leads Bogotanos to celebrate a party of lights comparable to few in the region.
Thanks to top-end technology, the festival’s installations make it possible for people to interact with them. As people move, the lights react by changing its colors or creating sounds, making spectators an active part of the fun.