In a country famed for its plethora of festivals, every weekend sees at least one massive celebration somewhere in the country. We take a look at the country’s top draws.
La Feria de Cali:
Cali hosts two major festivals every year: the Petronio Alvarez Pacific Music Festival, which we will no doubt touch upon in a later edition and takes place in August, and the Feria de Cali. This unique celebration is the perfect way to liven up that lull between Christmas and New Year, with all the salsa you can handle, horse parades, incredible parties, vintage care parades and bullfights for those who can stomach them. Cali will enchant you, especially when it is full of party-mad folk from across the country and abroad. Plus, enjoy numerous free concerts from famous artists. Olé!
Carnaval de Blancos y Negros:
During the first week of January, the city of Pasto, located in the south-west of Colombia, celebrates the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros, one of Colombia’s most unique festivals. With several days of celebration, the festivities pay tribute to indigenous customs. People paint their faces and dress up in black or white in order to celebrate the importance of Colombia’s indigenous people, rich multiculturalism and acceptance of all races. Accordingly, this is also on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Carnaval de Barranquilla:
Named on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List, this is one of the most renowned festivals worldwide and the second biggest carnival in Latin America. It takes place in Magdalena´s capital city, known as the happiest place in Colombia, beginning on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday. Barranquilla’s enthusiastic and party-loving locals welcome Colombians and tourists alike with open arms and wiggling hips. With four days of music, amazing parades, exotic dancers, great partying and colourful costumes, this is sure to be an experience you won’t forget. Or, well, with the amount of aguardiente flowing through the carnival, you might just forget some of it.
Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata:
In the last five days of April, Cesar´s capital city turns into the centre of one of the biggest popular celebrations in Colombia. Valledupar´s people get together to dance to the beat of Vallenato, that oh-so-bearable folk music that was born in the Caribbean and now makes up such an important part of Colombian culture. Paseo, Merengue, Puya and Son are the four main genres of this type of music, and the festival sees famous national and international artists come to take part in this massive musical celebration.
Feria de las Flores:
Beautiful women, an incredible variety of flowers and perfect weather is what’s in store when you visit Medellin at the start of August. Said to be the world’s largest outdoor flower show, the parade of ‘silleteros’ is the highlight – scores of specially chosen farmers from nearby Santa Elena descend to the city weighed down by huge tables of flowers on their backs. The outstanding designs are made from hundreds of different varieties of flowers. There is also a decorated chiva parade.
By Maris Alejandra Jaramillo