Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024: Picnic in the heart of the city

By Oli Pritchard February 15, 2024
Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 hits the heart of Bogotá

Stacked full of top international stars alongside a throng of dynamic local talents, Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 (FEP) is undoubtedly the biggest musical event in Colombia. It kicks off in five weeks time, from March 21-24 and tickets are still available here. Prices start at COP$600,000 (plus service) for a day and run up to COP$3.7 million for the whole four days as a VIP, with many price points in between.

Last year’s Festival Estéreo Picnic was a rip-roaring success

In a radical departure from previous editions, Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 will take place in the heart of the city. While previous years have involved trekking an hour or more out of the city, now it is front and centre in Parque Simón Bolívar, easily accessible from most areas in Bogotá.

It’s a genius move from promoters Páramo Productions, as it solves a number of issues both for organisers and punters at a single stroke. It goes hand-in-hand with the success story that has been the Latin-focused Festival Cordíllera in the autumn. This makes it easier to get to see bands earlier in the day and avoids the horrendous queues to leave or reenter the city through a single major highway.

Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 welcomes all genres and fans
Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024: in the city centre

The profile of Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 is much closer to T in the Park than something like Glasto or Reading, meaning that it’s a no-brainer to have it in the city centre. Of course, there’s now a question over whether it would be possible to run a large-scale festival in Colombia with camping et al. That’s one to watch for the future.

Last year saw a switch to a four-day format and that’s being continued for 2024. That’s another smart move now with less travelling involved. It makes life easier for day visitors looking for a single big band and spaces out some of the demand spikes.

As a fully up-to-date world-class festival, Festival Estéreo Picnic has all the expected bells and whistles. That means you’ll have a contactless payment wristband and there’ll be plenty of food and drink options for all tastes and budgets. Shopaholics are well catered for too and everything usually runs very well indeed.

Local talent at FEP 2024

While the big names dominate international attention and provide something new, the afternoon sees a multitude of local bands who are hungry and bursting with urgent enthusiasm. Miss them and you’re really missing the heart of the festival. Sadly we only have space to highlight a fraction of them below. There are also a fair few new names from Latin America such as Chile’s Akriila, Ecuadorians Lolabúm and Argentine Dillom. 

If you love the lyrical flow of Colombian rap but can’t be having with the overproduction of reggaeton, there are plenty of lo-fi options to put voices front and centre. Rolo rapper and Aerophon Crew founder Ruzto stands out, as do paisas Oblivion’s Mighty Trash. Rolo trap newcomer Sa¡koro scratches a similar beat. Self proclaimed Rey de fritango El Kalvo is rising like a bullet and one to watch, while Homie! are as on-the-street as they come.

Straight outta Tumaco comes Verito Asprilla with Pacific-infused reggaeton that would make even a stone dance. Pa’ Que Bailen indeed. Joe Arroyo’s old band Fruko y sus Tesos certainly aren’t youthful these days, but bring an old-school salsa sound that’s more Colombian than arepas for breakfast. Afro Legends are both proudly Afro and absolute legends, also repping from the Pacific.

DJ collective Nuclear Digital Transistor have a dark, almost post-punk sound in their techno, perfect for hitting the late night. Los Dinosaurios Murieron Ayer have an ethereal sound reminiscent of Mogwai that sounds perfect for the early morning comedown. Verraco provides more rapid and frenetic techno. Producer Okraa is heading home from That London with appropriately dark psych electronica.

Classic Latin rock stylings come courtesy of Laura Pérez, with more futuristic sounds from returning local heroes Mala Bengala. Hippy dreamrock is best found with Maca & Gero, NY-based rolos Matar Fuma or US-Colombian Divino Niño, all of whom have extensive acoustic sections. Buha 2030 redefine light stoner rock by popping in a sax that somehow works. Anamaria Oramas are certainly the most unusual band – lots of strings, few lyrics and a lot of freeform jazz experimentation.

That said, the big (often) foreign names are the ones that put bums on seats, so here’s a look at the late end of each day. There are impressive bookings every day, regardless of musical preference, so it’s hard to pick a particular day as best – that’ll depend on you.

Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 headliners

Thursday is for rocking royals, with big cuddly labradors Kings of Leon alongside, sadly, Limp Bizkit. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard couldn’t make it last year, but they’re back this year for fans of acid rock-metal to get tinnitus with a tinny. Futurepop sensation Rina Sawayama makes this a musically fascinating early evening.

Wu-Tang were along the big names last year

Genderfluid superstar Sam Smith is taking time out from brewing to headline Friday night’s fun and games, with musically genre-fluid SZA cementing it as a super smooth day to cross boundaries and play with labels. Greta Van Fleet also jump across styles from folk to rock to blues while Phoenix have a characteristically French disdain for rules.

Saturday sees Paisa reggaeton megastar Feid cross the Magdalena valley to take centre stage with Deptford sadboy pioneers Placebo, Acton rapper M.I.A. and Norteño Texans Grupo Frontera on the undercard. It’s hard to think of two more contrasting singer-songwriters than Brian Molko and Feid, but Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 has something for everyone in its hamper.

Finally, Sunday closes out the extravaganza with not one but two 90’s Cali-punk legends in the spiky-haired shapes of Blink-182 and The OffSpring. Canadians Arcade Fire also feature at the top of the bill. Latin rap stands tall on the final day too, with Colombian hip-hop legends La Etnnia and Argentinian starlet Nicki Nicole the biggest names.