Carnaval de Barranquilla | A Celebration of Colombian Culture

Smiling participants during the carnival.
Live, laugh, and love in Barranquilla, Colombia during their most celebrated cultural event.

Learn more about the country’s biggest and most cultural event, Barranquilla’s Carnival.Barranquilla, Colombia had been a major cell in Colombia’s ecosystem. It was considered to be the country’s principal port, and has earned the nickname “Colombia’s Golden Gate”. It is the second largest city in Colombia and is one of the most advanced cities in South America. The first airport in the region was even built in this city back in 1919. However, due to corruption by previous officials and national investments shifting focus to other cities, Barranquilla slowly lost its prominence and grandeur.

There is, however, one thing in Barranquilla that remains nationally significant. Carnaval de Barranquilla is Colombia’s most important folkloric and cultural event. It is one of the most popular things to do in Colombia and people from all around the country and even all around the world visit Barranquilla just to be a part of this massive yearly event. Here are a couple of interesting things about this celebration.

  • The second biggest festival in the world.
    This carnival is one of the biggest in the world, next to Rio Carnival of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
  • Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza.
    This is the official slogan of the carnival. Its translation in English is “those who live it, enjoy it”, and that could not be more accurate. Many people from all over the world who have experienced it have said that it is one of the best events of their lives.
  • Four days of celebration.
    During the lead up to the festival, a massive influx of people causes most operations in Barranquilla to shut down throughout the length of the event because it is difficult to get around for work. Everyone in Barranquilla just takes this opportunity to join the celebration, party, and have fun. The festival starts four days prior to Ash Wednesday.
  • History.
    How this celebration started and the underlying reasons behind it still remain a mystery to this day, though there are multiple theories. It is believed that the festival originated from old Pagan practices and ceremonies. No one knows exactly how and why it started, but nowadays, it is considered a celebration of Colombian traditions, folklore, and culture.
  • A masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.
    In 2003, UNESCO officially declared this festival as such. Those celebrations bearing this proclamation are protected and preserved. Only the most significant and most cultural celebrations are given this recognition, and the Barranquilla’s Carnival is one of them.
  • The events.
    The entire carnival goes on for four days, and since the carnival starts four days before Ash Wednesday, the first day of the event lands on a Saturday. There is a specific event that is held on each day of the carnival. The Battle of Flowers is held on Saturday, while the Great Parade of Traditions and Folklore is held on Sunday. Also, The Great Parade of Groups is held on Monday and Joselito Leaves With the Ashes on the final day.

This celebration is indeed massive and grand. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people fly to Barranquilla with weeks of preparation just to be a part of the carnival. To say that it plays a major role in Colombian tourism would be stating the obvious. Being a part of it is a great way to understanding Colombian culture, and meet the wonderful locals. You can be a part of it too. Make sure you book ahead of time, as most hotels might get fully-booked already weeks prior to the carnival. Those who live it, enjoy it. You can experience this festival too, and enjoy it for yourself.


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