Everything you need to know about Cartagena’s Hay Festival

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Cartagena prepares to host the tenth edition of Colombia´s most important literature festival. Here’s what you should know.

What is the Hay festival?

Every year Cartagena hosts this esteemed “festival of stories and ideas.Hay Festival is one of the most important literature festivals in the Hispanic world, where literature, visual arts, journalism, music, environment and politics are discussed in a context of dialogue and celebration.

When does it take place?

January 29- February 1

Why Cartagena?

Besides being recognized for its historic and cultural richness, Cartagena’s location and hotel infrastructure has allowed it to become a renowned worldclass destination. The Hay Festival, now in his tenth year, celebrates the suggestion made by distinguished Mexican author Carlos Fuentes, to take the welsh festival as close as possible to Gabriel García Márquez, after he rejected the invitation made by its creator, Peter Florence. “If Gabo doesn’t go to the festival, then the festival goes to Gabo,” Fuentes said.  As a result, the event was held in another country for the first time ever.

What does Colombia gain?

José Pablo Arango, director of Marca Colombia, Colombia’s national brand, says the Hay Festival is the ideal scenario through which to promote Colombia’s good image, prestige and reputation. “Each time an event like this takes place, more tourists and personalities visit our country and are immediately enchanted by it,” he explains. “This experience becomes a multiplier of good news, which circles around the world, closing the breach between perception and reality.”

Who are this year’s guests?   

This year’s program will offer more than 80 events about literature, science, psychology, art, journalism and film. It will welcome over 150 guests from 21 countries, including writers, journalists, musicians, filmmakers and important personalities such as Nobel Laureate JM LeClezio, and American activist Jody Williams, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

What will they be talking about?

The tenth edition of the Cartagena Hay Festival will be celebrated with “10×10 conversations,” an opportunity for ten Colombians from different subject areas to discuss their professional experiences with ten international experts.

As is tradition, kids and adolescents will have access to special events through Hay Festivalito and Hay Joven. And between January 28 and 30, similar events will take place in other cities, including Hay Festival Medellín, Culture and Sustainability, Hay Festival Riohacha and an event in Aracataca.

Which Colombian writers will participate?

Colombian literature will be represented by great novelists including Héctor Abad Faciolince, Jorge Franco, Juan Esteban Constaín, Santiago Gamboa, Mario Mendoza, Alberto Salcedo Ramos, Pablo Montoya, Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Piedad Bonett.

Which talks cannot be missed?

Among the program’s highlights: A panel discussion between Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya  and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams; a showcase of the evolution of the Colombian filmmaking industry, featuring the movie Todos se van,directed by Sergio Cabrera; a talk with former Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa, a world authority in urban planning; and of course, a tribute to our literary Nobel, Gabriel García Márquez.. These events confirm, once again, that when it comes to culture, the Answer is Colombia.