May 10

The Accordionists of Valledupar: a Colombia Photo Gallery

vallenato festival valledupar colombia

 

The northern Colombian city of Valledupar is famous for a few things and, although not especially well-known by travelers to Colombia, is especially iconic for it’s status as the birthplace and spiritual home of vallenato music, a traditional folk music form which has become arguably Colombia’s most popular musical genre (at least within the country). And the most important celebration of vallenato takes place once a year in the sweltering hot Caribbean streets of Valledupar: the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata, or the Vallenato Legend Festival. This festival is essentially a giant party throughout the region, but it’s true goal is to crown the King of Vallenato, which basically comes down to the best accordionist.

Throughout the main days of the festival, stages are erected in various plazas in Valledupar, and artists compete in front of judges to move onto the final, which is held in the main stadium in town on the Saturday night. The most fun part of all this is that the stages are surrounded by thousands of seats and small bars, and accordionists and vallenato groups set up shop all around the square to practice their tunes. For me vallenato is best enjoyed with a cold Aguila beer and a group of people loudly singing along, so this was perfect! It also gave me a great chance to snap some shots of accordionists doing their thing, which you can enjoy below…

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
The classic accordionist look

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
Some are happier than others…

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
See…

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
Surprise!

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
Only distracted for a second!

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
Don’t mess with this guy!

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
This guy seems pretty serious as well…this is serious business!

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
Even the kids are getting into it…

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
And the bloggers…

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
I think I’ve got what it takes!

 

vallenato festival valledupar colombia
…or maybe I’ll leave it to this fella…

 

Visiting Valledupar for the Vallenato Legend Festival is not common for backpackers in Colombia – Valledupar already isn’t especially touristy and the prices go up a lot for the festival. However, I can honestly say it’s worth the time and little extra money – the festival is a truly off-the-beaten-track event for Colombia travelers, and a real expression of the best of Colombia: great music, friendly folk and true cultural significance. Plus, where else can you drink whisky down by the river in the middle of the day and seem totally normal?!

Chris

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2 thoughts on “The Accordionists of Valledupar: a Colombia Photo Gallery

  1. Maria on

    Hi christ,
    first it all I want to honesty thank you for showing so many people the good and humble side of Colombia. I’m happy you enjoy you stay there.
    I been living in the US for 14 years but I go and visit my family in Medellin when I have the opportunity.
    Unfortunately as a colombian I have to hear all the negative comments and discrimination too from people that has no idea of my country or who I really am, they just like to jump into conclusions base on things they see or hear from other latin countries and also our past history… ignorants that’s what I called them. But been fortunate to meet and know people that like to learn other cultures and explore new lands like you! And that is a good thing as humans to learn from each other,to be rich in knowledge.
    Again thank you for all your nice articles,take care and God bless.

    Reply

      Chris on

      Thanks so much for your comment Maria, that was lovely to read 🙂

      Reply

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