More than 50 bands will play the 16th annual Rock al Parque fest in Bogotá, Colombia, July 3-5, which is billed as the largest free-admission rock fest in Latin America. The festival last year drew over 320,000 attendees over a three-day span.

This year's bill includes Argentina’s Andrés Calamaro, Mexico’s Zoe, Jamaica’s Ky-Mani Marley and U.S. bands Biohazard and Mutemath.

Sponsored by the city of Bogotá, the fest features established names with up-and-coming groups and has brought together the city’s many cultural departments, including its prestigious Philharmonic Orchestra, in an effort to stimulate a local rock movement.

This year, for example, 310 Colombian acts submitted tapes to be considered for a performance slot in the fest. A jury pre-selected 33 bands who then auditioned during two days of free shows for live audiences. Those selected for the actual fest include past Latin Grammy nominee Jimena Angel. This week, as part of the festival’s launch, the orchestra, in tandem with the city’s secretary of education, released “Rock al Parque 15 Años,” a compilation album featuring tracks by the 33 local bands showcased in 2009. The orchestra printed 3,000 copies of the album which were distributed to students in schools, colleges and libraries.

The Philharmonic Orchestra also sponsored a contest where acts submitted their videos to be shown during the festival. Winning videos are selected by popular online voting.

A full schedule of events will be announced this week, but, as is now tradition, Rock al Parque will kick off with “Metal Saturday” July 3, featuring punk, metal and hard core acts. For more information, visit
www.rockalparque.gov.co

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