The hum of concerts, workshops, talks and seminars will add to the rich sound and scene of Cartagena’s portico-covered streets and open-air theaters when the eighth annual Hay Festival of Literature and Arts commences in the ancient port city on January 24.
Filled to the brim, this year’s Hay program uses literature and other mediums as a means of cultural exchange and social responsibility.
The people speaking and performing at the festival are some of the finest storytellers from around the world, adding to Cartagena’s wealth of literary culture and creative genius.
Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian who has written portrayals of military school bullying and about how dictators’ worlds (and underworlds) tick, and who even participated in his own tragic dramas in Peruvian politics, will discuss the evolution of his work over a 55-year career with author Carlos Granes.
And just as there are literary giants to listen to, there are ample opportunities for young writers to learn.
In a workshop facilitated by the Colombian Ministry of Education, Colombian writers William Ospina and Miguel Torres will join a host of others from the Spanish-speaking literary world to teach budding writers how to perfect the craft of the short story.
In addition to talks and seminars, the festival will mix in concerts by Peruvian Grammy-winning singer Susana Baca, an hour-long discussion with Colombian architect Daniel Bermudez, and a seminar with Mario Jursich and Daniel Samper on how salsa music has transformed the Colombia capital city of Bogota.
The event, which has previously featured contemporary American novelist Jonathan Franzen and the late Mexican author Carlos Fuentes, appeals to the wanderlust. Festival-goers get to choose which specific events they want to attend over four days. With some exceptions, each event is roughly $11 for admission and tickets can be purchased online.
Outside of the event, a labyrinth of streets harboring its own stories will let anyone with literary or artistic ambitions become pleasantly lost. The city and its magical character is sure to inspire just as the Hay Festival is sure not to disappoint.