Fiesta de la Música: World music day festival in Cuenca
La Fiesta de la Música (Spanish), La Fête de la Musique (French) or the World Music Day is the name of an annual event that takes place in 120 countries around the globe. The idea is pretty much the same in every city: to fill the urban landscape with free live concerts in different music genres.
It all started back in 1982 in Paris, France. However, Ecuador joined this cultural tendency in 1995 when Ecuador’s capital, Quito, organized the first ‘Fiesta de la Música’. From then on, this festival has been a platform for the best acts of the country.
Local legends such as Sal y Mileto (rock), Tzanza Matanza (hip hop), Sudakaya (ska), Alma Rasta (reggae), Pies en la Tierra (jazz), Blues S.A. (blues) or Jaime Guevara (folk) forged their artistry under the wing of this festival.
Nowadays, Quito is not the main location during this particular celebration. The festival also takes place in other cities of Ecuador like Guayaquil and Loja, and to be honest, only Cuenca –a lovely little province capital at the south of the ecuadorian Andes- has been able to embrace the original idea and make it work at its best.
If you visit this city around June 21st (the day of the celebration worldwide) you’ll be exposed to almost 60 bands playing in 27 different stages. The most cool venues are located in plazas, streets and important landmarks like the Mother’s Park (Parque de la Madre), La Merced’s Plaza or The Broken Bridge (El Puente Roto), a beautiful colonial structure made of stone that was destroyed by the force of the stream of Tomebamba river in 1950.
The stages are located just blocks away from each other. During those days is normal to see a lot of people walking in a quest for more music in different places around the city. During those little trips is common to hear and see musical acts –usually amateurs- that were not on the official program. Just as the international bands and the recognized local ensembles, the street musicians are able to share their talent in a sidewalk or inside trendy or bohemian restaurants and bars.
The best of all is that every show is free. Even the artists with big names collaborate in this spirit and request just a fee for transportation, food and a place to stay. Those expenses and everything involved with the production (sound, lights, stage) is sponsored by the Alianza Francesa (a cultural and language institute) and the city of Cuenca.
The festival promotes an alcohol free environment during the shows. However, you may see people enjoying a couple of beers during the festivities with no inconvenience. Another positive fact is that Cuenca is really safe, pretty, clean and the people are really kind with visitors. And let’s not forget about how attractive the humankind is around this area; ask any ecuadorian if you don’t believe me!
After enjoying several hours of good music, you may still have time to visit some of the coolest places of the city with a panoramic city tour bus or by yourself. Be sure to check the colonial churches, museums, parks, pre-hispanic ruins, its four rivers and the Mercado Central, a great place to eat typical food like ‘mote pillo’ (for vegetarians) or ‘cascaritas’ (for omnivores).
I’ll see you next year in Cuenca at La Fiesta de la Música!
Featured image source: Daniela Vásconez and Da Pawn