Planning a visit to Colombia? Make sure to read ‘The Stuff You Want to Know Before Planning a Trip to Colombia.’
Cali is known as the Salsa Capital of the World. Colombians from all over, plus a share of foreigners, come together for exactly that--and much, much more--during the locally infamous Feria.
What is Feria De Cali?
Feria De Cali is the largest and most important annual cultural event in Cali, Colombia. Located in the Valle de Cauca, in the Southwest of Colombia, Cali is a regional capital with deep Afro-Colombian traditions, a city where dancing and a tropical, coastal vibe are staples of the local identity. Generally the dates of this festival fall between Christmas and New Year's, making Cali an ideal destination for an end-of-year hurrah. There is a variety of entertainment involved around this festival--a lot of it centered around the Salsodromo (the dome where some of the main salsa competitions unfold), open-ended drinking and revelry in the streets, and the city's countless, energetic nightclubs. Cali, my friends, is the salsa king.
The Itinerary - 2 days, 3 nights: Cali, Colombia
Day One: Medellín → Cali
9:46am - 10:49am: Arrive to Cali from Medellín
11:30am - 12:30pm: Arrive to Cali Marriott
Estimated Uber fare from Cali airport to Cali Marriott: 75,000 pesos ~ $23.80
Time from airport to hotel is ~42mins
We loved our stay at this Marriott property in Cali. The staff was gracious and helpful.
2:30pm - 4:30pm: Lunch at Restaurante Platillos Voladores
This restaurant is approximately ~14 mins walking distance from the Marriott Cali hotel
5:00pm - 8:00pm: Pregame for SuperConcierto por Feria De Cali
- We ended up using the lounge at the Marriott for this pregame which was lovely but I recommend heading OUT in the direction of the concert and doing so at a bar nearby. The streets in just about any reasonable vicinity of the Estadio Olímpico Pascual Guerrero, the stadium where the show is held, will be popping. Young people lining up at local shops and outdoor dining rooms drinking light beer and aguardiente will abound, and become your greatest conduit into the local culture. Roaming the streets by foot as you approach the Estadio is a great way to meet locals and get a sense of the energy!
Tickets were sold out for this show and we ended up purchasing them from a local on Colombia’s version of StubHub
There will be a top Vallenato headliner as well as well as several other performances. Vallenato is a popular type of accordion-driven Colombian folk music, somewhat akin to country music in the US.
This concert is a lot of fun if you know or can get down with the music. Estadio Guerrero, which the biggest local football club, América de Cali, calls home, is gigantic and brings one of the largest crowds I have ever been around. Use the bathroom before and know that you won’t have cell reception once in the arena. Stay close to your friends!
One of the social staples of Cali and Colombia in general is drinking aguardiente. Before the show, we went into the gas station to pick up a lil concert juice and met several folks from all over the world in town for Feria De Cali taking shots of Aguardiente in the gas station. Yes, in the gas station. They had a table and chairs set up in the gas station for socializing. That ended up being our concert crew--not a bad look.
Day 2: Cali
6:00am: Head to Yogendra Ashram
20 minutes away driving distance from Marriott Hotel
Location: Cristo Rey Km6 Casa 4, Colombia
6:30am- Kirtan at Yogendra EcoAshram
7am - 8am: Pranayam and Meditation @Yogendra EcoAshram
Must make reservation
Unfortunately, we never woke up in time for this. Daddy Yankee had us out late the night before. If you can schedule this in, it has great reviews.
12:00pm: Visit Cristo Rey
When you do a google search, this christ statue atop a local hillside is one of the top destinations that comes up to visit in Cali. In my opinion, there’s really not much to see here. If you’ve seen the Christ statue in Rio then don’t even bother.
If you end up going, ask your Uber driver to wait for you there while you visit the statue. It’s up a pretty remote hillside, and away from the active Uber area.
3:00pm: Head to the bullfight at Feria De Cali.
Not meant for those of the faint heart
Unique cultural experience and you will need to book tickets for this in advance as well. See the Feria de Cali website for more details and don’t hesitate to message them if you can’t find your information. We got ours from locals. It doesn’t hurt to ask around but I would advise to do some due diligence before as the tickets can be hard to come by.
This happens only once during the Feria, check the website ahead of time to see which day it is happening the year you visit.
8:00pm - Late: Dinner, Salsa, and a Night Out
Cali may very well be the Salsa Capital of the World--but more than that, it is one of the nightlife capitals of Latin America, period. The local discotecas are a force to be reckoned with, and will have you grooving until 4 and 5 in the morning.There a dozens of electrifying clubs and bars in Cali pumping with music--and dancers--from all over the globe. Make sure to check out one of the many salsa festivities during this portion of your trip, and check out the local establishments if you want to enjoy more Latin tunes beyond just salsa!
The adventures continue in Cartagena for NYE ...