Colombian president getting a haircut at the Petronio Álvarez Festival
Colombian president getting a haircut at the Petronio Álvarez Festival

Cali News – The Petronio Álvarez Festival has established itself as the largest and most representative feast of Afro-Colombian folklore from Colombia’s Pacific Coast.

The Petronio Álvarez Festival is a state of mind and soul imbued with the conviviality of Colombia’s Pacific region.
The sensuousness of the dances and ancestral chants that renovate themselves in musical fusions and the traditions that make an entire people vibrate to masterly renderings by traditional percussion instruments – marimba, conuno, and guazá – are only the preamble to all the reasons you may have for coming to Cali.
The Petronio Álvarez Festival began in 1997 in response to the need to create a space for the meeting of composers, musicians, and researchers of the native music of the Pacific Coast.


The ethnic and cultural plurality of Cali quickly echoed this event that quickly grew in numbers and became embedded in the heart of a region whose inhabitants came to regard the Festival as a means of preserving, making their own, and connecting rural and urban Afro-Colombian cultural expressions.

Over one hundred musical groups are convoked annually to compete for the Petronio Álvarez Prize in various modalities. However, the most sought-after prize is an ovation from a demanding public that generously surrenders to music that touches the right fibers of their lives.


The festival was named in the honor Colombian musician Patrick Romano Petronio Álvarez Quintero, was born on October 1, 1914 in Cascajal Island, near Buenaventura, a port that inspired his best-known song today: “My Bonaventure”.  Petronio Álvarez, who died on December 10, 1966 in Cali at fifty-two years of age, was an the interpreter of the sounds of milongas and currulaos bambucos.

Tips for visitors

  • The entrance to the festival is free so be sure to arrive early to get a good seat
  • A white handkerchief is the essential accessory for dancing during the festival
  • The traditional liquors are arrechón, tumbacatre viche among others .. created from sugar cane (not to exceed consumption cause it may fall so heavy to the stomach!)
  • The festival is a whole array of AFRO: African descent and an aphrodisiac, with their spirits, dance and cuisine
  • Find the best food in the tascas. Take good money because the dishes are between $12,000 and $20,000 per person
  • Most importantly, have good endurance and energy to dance! (as the wave of people pushes you in one step with their choreography)