Do you feel like you have exhausted all the possible music festivals in the UK? Wondering where to spread your wings next? You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that South America is a vibrant hotbed of festivals, spanning all kinds of musical genres. Some of these events are staged in truly unique Latin settings, bringing you pulsing beats and unforgettable scenery to boot.
If that’s whet your appetite, read on as we uncover seven of the best little-known music festivals to reach the shores of South America.
Estéreo Picnic (Bogotá, Colombia)
You can experience the live energy of Estéreo Picnic in the Colombian capital of Bogotá for under US$200. Established as recently as 2010, it’s certainly one of the newest kids on the block in festival terms. Attracting bigger crowds as a new festival is no easy task; however, it has attracted some of the biggest names in music already, namely The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers and iconic DJs like Tiesto. The first three years of Estéreo Picnic exclusively featured Colombian acts, but in truth the event scaled new heights from the moment it mixed global stars with local gems on the line-up.
Rock in Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
The ‘Rock in’ music festival franchise is now synonymous with cities like Madrid, Las Vegas and Lisbon, but the concept actually started in Rio de Janeiro. One of the most iconic nights at Rock in Rio was in 2017 when The Who and Guns N’ Roses whipped up the City of God into an absolute frenzy. It was The Who’s first performance in Brazil and Guns N’ Roses’ first appearance in 26 years.
As their massive three-and-a-half-hour set proves, Guns N’ Roses are still one of the biggest rock franchises on the planet. Their legacy lives on in various forms of pop culture too. In the gaming world, their anthem, Welcome to the Jungle, was the soundtrack to Rockstar Games’ hugely successful Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Betway’s officially licensed Guns N’ Roses slot proves particularly popular online. In the US, the NFL’s Super Bowl is one of the biggest cultural events on the sporting calendar and earlier this year, the band were chosen to headline the 2020 Super Bowl Music Festival in the build-up to the main event.
Cosquin Rock (Córdoba, Argentina)
Few music fans outside of Argentina will be aware of Cosquin Rock, which is one of the biggest music festivals in the country. Staged in Córdoba since 2001, Cosquin Rock has become a symbolic event for many Spanish-speaking bands that view this festival as one of the highest points of their careers. Typically hosted in February, Cosquin Rock attracts over 150,000 fans annually, which puts it up there with some of the biggest UK festivals like Reading and Leeds.
Asunciónico (Asunción, Paraguay)
The Paraguayan capital city of Asunción has recently launched a new and exciting music festival, specialising largely in rock and electronic dance music. It has only been in existence since 2015, when the city’s Jockey Club venue played host to household names like Calvin Harris, Jack White, Kasabian and Robert Plant. The event didn’t return until 2018 after its debut year, with Espacio Idesa the new home for Asunciónico that year and in 2019 welcoming the likes of The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Lenny Kravitz and Snow Patrol.
Selvámonos (Oxapampa, Peru)
If you are looking something completely outside of your comfort zone, look no further than Peru’s Selvámonos Festival. Established in 2008, Selvámonos has rapidly become the country’s most popular alternative music and arts festival. Nestled in the heart of Oxapampa in the Pasco Region that Lonely Planet loves so much, there are three elements to the Selvámonos event – an electro event, the Lima parade and the festival itself.
It’s genuinely a festival that offers something for all the family, including visual and performing arts, craft workshops and fairs. If you want something to compare it to think of the eclectic nature of Suffolk’s Latitude Festival.
EDC Brasil (São Paolo, Brazil)
For many years, the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) has been recognized as one of the biggest electro raves in the US. Fortunately, after making waves in the US, as well as the UK and India, the EDC brand chose to venture south. The first EDC Brasil event in São Paolo was hosted in December 2015. Given that South American electronic dance music is thriving at present, there is no doubt that the city can handle a three-day techno party.
Storyland (Santa Marta, Colombia)
Last but by no means least, we return to Colombia for the Storyland Music Festival. Scheduled for January each year, what better way to see in the New Year than to party the nights away in the historic port town of Santa Marta? The festival originally started out further south in Cartagena, but has since migrated north-east to the Caribbean coast. The beach of Playa Bello Horizonte makes for a wonderful setting, particularly as the sun goes down.