Three big Córdoba folk music festivals

Watch them on TV at home, if you can.

Bonnie Tucker / FST
Argentina’s three most important folk and popular music festivals take place in the summer in the province of Córdoba. All have had more than 40 editions. The two biggest and oldest shows are held in Jesús María and Cosquín during more or less the first and second fortnights of January, respectively, while the third takes place in Villa María the third week of February.
Each show lasts about four hours and draws many thousands of spectators from different parts of the country, so whoever wants to see one of them on the spot had best reserve lodging well in advance. Those who don’t find hotel accommodation in the festival venues may have to settle for a bed in one of the family homes that are available during the festival nights. Others will find a room it in the city of Córdoba, the provincial capital 710 km north of Buenos Aires which has more than 90 hotels of all types and is quite near the three festival cities.
With this in mind, millions of people prefer to watch the festivals on TV in the comfort and privacy of their homes; after all, the telly gives them close-ups of singers and pans over the audience that they can’t get in the front row. The problem is when the show is not televised on the national network.
Of the three, the National Folk Music Festival, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary in Cosquín, is the one that traditionally discovers talented new folk singers. And after the night’s show, some singers and spectators do honor to another Cosquín tradition: they continue with the party in peñas until the wee hours. (A peña is a restaurant or bar where people get together to listen to music and play or sing it between servings or regional food.) This year’s 12-night festival, which calls its nights as “lunas” (moons) will take place from Jan. 20 to 31, and will be seen by nearly 10,000 spectators every night. Cosquín is 62 km from the provincial capital, and has 34 hotels of all kinds and eight campgrounds. Mariana Carrizo (photo), the Salta baladeer who shot to fame here in 2004, will sing on the last night (or “12th moon”) of the festival. See the program at
… foto Mariana Carrizo.jpg ….. Jesús María’s National Rodeo and Folk Music Festival has musical and horse-breaking components; professional horse breaking in the grassy stadium field alternates with entertainers on the stage. The 45th edition which began on Jan. 8 and will end Jan. 17, convokes as many as 35,000 spectators per night. It is 48 km from the capital and has only eight hotels and a handful of holiday ranches to offer festival goers. This year, for the first time in history, the festival was not televised in Buenos Aires, of which more will be said below. The program can be seen at
The National Peñas Festival, about to celebrate its 43rd anniversary, will take place in Villa María from Feb. 13 to 20. Its theater can seat as many as 8,000 spectators a night. Guatemalan singer Ricardo Arjona will sing on the last night. This farming city is 175 km from the capital and has only five hotels and three campgrounds. Get the program at

Why was the Jesús María Festival not televised for BA?
This year, folk music fans in Buenos Aires were furious that Canal 7, the national air TV channel, did not televise the 45th edition of the Jesús María Rodeo and Folk Music Festival, thus breaking its long-standing tradition of giving nationwide coverage to this popular cultural event. But they should have directed their ire at the new festival commission in Jesús María. Online newspapers in Buenos Aires and the interior, and blog forums on the Internet, suggest that there may have been both economic and political motives for this omission. It seems that the organizers decided to triple the festival’s television rights for the 2010 edition of the festival. This put the Córdoba TV channel that works in tandem with Channel 7 out of the running. And the commission signed with a local TV channel that belongs to privately-owned Buenos Aires-based Channel 13, which belongs to an economic group that the present national government considers to be an enemy. Festival goers find this hard to understand, as the local channel can transmit only to Córdoba and some cities in the provinces of Catamarca and Santiago del Estero. People who see plots at every turn say that in Jesús María everyone (including some sponsors with farm industry connections) remembers the night of the 2009 edition of the festival when Channel 7 deliberately ignored the presence of Vice President Julio Cobos and Córdoba Governor Juan Schiaretti, both of whom are opponents of the national’s agricultural policy. Whatever the reason, the result is that this year the festival was not televised on air TV in Buenos Aires and the Greater Buenos Aires area, where one third of the country’s population lives.
It is rumored that the festival in Cosquín will be televised by Canal 7, as has been the case until now. But it seems that this time it will not be televised live, but rather as of midnight, when most people want to sleep.