Hay Festival Cartagena

Cartagena’s famed Hay Festival, one of many worldwide literature and arts festivals of the same name that bring together writers, musicians, film-makers, historians and other celebrated personalities every year, set off Wednesday for a long weekend of concerts, workshops, seminars and other events.

Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be honored at the Colombian edition of the 2014 festival, which will be inaugurated by Argentine film director Juan Jose Campanella in Marquez’s native town of Aracataca – the inspiration for the setting of the author’s legendary magical-realism novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

Although Marquez himself will not be present at the festival, his English-language translator will be. So too will be “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” author John Boyne (Ireland), cult novel “Trainspotting” writer Irvine Welsh (Scotland), Argentine writer Ricardo Piglia, and many others.

Literary talks, a series of recitals, and children’s performances highlight just some of the 67 events that the festival holds in store for this year’s attendees.

In addition to artistic figures, the annual event will welcome around 150 guest visitors, including, politicians, bloggers, and journalists, all who are sure to “make us imagine a different world,” in the words of the organizers.

This year, the internationally-renowned festival will also see two spin-off events take place on the last few days of January: the environmentally conscious Green Hay Festival (Hay Festival Verde) of Medellin; and the Riohacha Hay Festival in northern La Guajira state, a region bordering Venezuela in which the Wayuu indigenous culture prevails.

Mexico will be one of the more prominent presences at this year’s festival, which is organized by Colombia’s Ministry of Culture. Heartthrob Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal will talk of his work and of Latin American cinema, while co-national writer and journalist Elmer Mendoza will give conferences on “narcoliterature.”

A meeting place for book-lovers and illustrious artists alike, the festival will take place from January 29 to February 2 in various locations in the UNESCO World Heritage city.

The festival that former US President Bill Clinton labelled the “Woodstock of the Mind,”  has its roots in a small Irish town called Hay-on-Wye. This 1500-people-strong town with 41 libraries has been organizing book festival for nearly 30 years.

“We always have a widely varied program [that is] enriching in every sense of the word, [with] spaces in which different point of view come together, so the real interest is the space for discussion,” the festival’s Development and Communications Manager Amalia de Pombo told Italian Press Agency ANSA.

The span of different media, branches of academia, and professions contributing to the festival is punctuated by talks by former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, philosophers and journalists from all over the world.

ChocQuibTown — the Colombian Best Alternative Song winners at the Latin Grammy Awards, and the European Cuban-Scottish fusion group Salsa Celtica, will headline the main festival concert in Cartagena’s Plaza de la Aduana.


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