Patagonia’s Thriving Art and Music Scene

Patagonia’s Thriving Art and Music Scene

PatagoniaBy Cathy Brown

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the government of Argentina was horrifically violent and corrupt. (They have since taken the violence down a notch, not so sure about the corrupt part). There were hippies, artists, musicians, pacifists, and poets all across the land who wanted to take no part in this regime, so they gathered together in a faraway, hidden, not-very-accessible Andean valley called El Bolson, about 2 hours south of commercialized, expensive Bariloche. And any time the foundation of a community is freedom, art and music, magical things are bound to happen.

El Bolson is a tiny town, but manages to boast the largest artists market in all of Argentina. Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, year-round, hundreds of artisans come out to Plaza Pagano, the main center square, to showcase their goods which include homemade candles, clothing, woodworking, preserves, CD´s, jewelry, instruments, puppets, toys, etc. There is a food court with organic, fresh food, much of it vegetarian. Beer vendors are more than willing to give out free samples, and considering that Bolson is also the micro-brew capitol of Argentina, you should definitely not pass on their offers.

It is common to hear live music being performed in the grassy areas, see theater shows taking place in the streets, and have acrobats practicing in the trees of the park. Impromptu drum circles and sing-alongs which include vendors and spectators alike are everyday occurrences.

And as if you could not keep yourself occupied and happy wandering through the artists market, in the surrounding mountains, which tower well past the cloud line, is some of the most spectacular hiking in all of South America. There is rafting on the gorgeous transparent and turquoise waters of the Rio Azul. There is nearby Lago Puelo, a National Park which makes you feel as though you were in Switzerland. And my personal favorite, there is Jauja, world-famous ice cream shop downtown Bolson featuring endless varieties of freshly homemade gelato.

So the next time you want to release your inner hippie, consider El Bolson, Argentina. Who would have guessed that some of the best art and music in Argentina could be found in a tiny little Patagonian valley?

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