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5 Colombia Celebrations You Need to See in Your Life

A Colombia celebration taking place
There are many Colombia celebrations to discover, so plan a trip to Colombia this year!

9-5 jobs are boring!

Working Monday to Friday in the city can become routine. This is especially the case with office jobs in the big city. You get up in the morning and do your daily morning routine. You go to work. Spend 8-9 hours or more doing variations of the same thing you are best at doing with lunch and breaks in between. After finishing work you go home, take your dinner, and do the usual things that you do before you sleep.

Even Saturday and Sunday can be routine unless you schedule something different in advance.

Is that really what life is all about, living through the colors of black, white, and concrete gray? Of course not, there is much more to life than working for the best 40-50 years of your life to get as much money as possible.

Vacations and holidays remind us what it means to experience the varied colors of life. They remind us that we only have one life to live and we need to go out and see the world while we still have enough energy and strength to make the journey and be back in time for our next shift.

Colombia is home to many such reminders to take a break and live your life well. Colombia celebrations are a time for people to look back on the past and to participate in and enjoy life in the present. This sentiment is beautifully embodied in the country’s people. Come and enjoy these famous festivals in Colombia!

1. Blacks and Whites’ Carnival, Pasto, Colombia

Colombia celebrations like the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival are fun.
Caption: Come see the Colombia celebrations such as the Blacks’ and Whites’ Carnival in Pasto. | Photo by Danilo Rairán on flickr

The Blacks and Whites’ Carnival or the Carnaval de Negros y Blancos is celebrated from January 2 to 7 every year. This carnival is one of the most popularly known and most celebrated. It attracts many Colombians and foreign tourists year after year.

It is composed of pre-carnival activities connected to the formal celebration and four general days: the ‘Children’s Carnival,’ the ‘Arrival of the Castaneda Family,’ the ‘Blacks’ Day,’ and the ‘Whites’ Day’ and the Grand Parade.

Pre-Carnival Activities

Pre-carnival activities include a Water Carnival and New Year’s Eve Puppets. The Water Carnival is usually celebrated on December 28 where participants play water games that involve trickery and jokes while the burning of New Year’s eve puppets symbolizes the end of the old year.

The Carnavalito, January 3.

During the Carnavalito, the children also get to participate. They recreate their version of the White’s day Parade with mini-floats, music, and dance.

The Arrival of the Castañeda Family, January 4.

The following day, the parade begins with the arrival of the Castañeda Family. The parade historically indicates the recreated arrival of a “colorful family” that came to Pasto from El Encano in the east.

Blacks’ Day, January 5.

The Blacks’ Day commemorates the day African slaves were allowed to indulge in playful outbursts. People paint themselves in black cosmetics and play and dance in the streets.

Whites’ Day and the Grand Parade, January 6.

On Whites’ Day, people paint themselves in white cosmetics and have fun. This is also the highlight of the celebration: the day of the Grand Parade. It travels for 7 kilometers on a 15-kilometer path through the downtown city of Pasto. It is composed of individual costumes, dancing troupes, musicians, mini-floats, and large floats.

This is one trip you will want to make to start off the New Year.

2. Rock al Parque, Bogotá, Colombia

Visit the Rock al Parque in Bogotá Colombia.
Rock out at the yearly music festival in Bogotá, one of the biggest Colombia celebrations!

If you’re into music festivals, why not try out the free rock music festival in the nation’s capital city? Every year, the Rock al Parque festival is held. It is considered the largest rock festival in Colombia and draws many rock lovers from all over Latin America.

A typical year hosts more than 50 local and international bands for a period of 3 to 4 days in Bogotá’s Simon Bolivar Park. A great part of the success is the inclusivity of allowing many different genres such as punk, reggae, ska, hardcore, metal, and blues musicians. In the afternoons you could be among hundreds of thousands of people at the festival.

3. Festival of the Flowers, Medellín, Colombia

The Festival of the Flowers of Medellín in Colombia
Colombia celebrations can also have a bit of old-town spirit, like the Festival of Flowers in Medellín.

The Feria de las Flores in Medellín, Colombia takes place every August and lasts for ten days. It used to be held on May 1, 1957. However, it was changed to its current month to celebrate Atioquia’s independence.

The flower festival is one of the highlights of the region’s identity. All of the flowers grown in the region are arranged and displayed during the festival such as roses, orchids, lilies, pinocchios, carnations, agapanthuses, sunflowers, bridal veils, gladioli, and chrysanthemums.

These flowers are arranged on silletas and paraded through Medellín. Colombia traditional dress is worn by all as they compete for the most beautiful flower arrangement. Apart from traditional clothes in Colombia being worn for the occasion, you can also see the local pageant, automobile parades, horse fairs, art exhibitions, and among other fun sights.

4. Barranquilla Carnival, Barranquilla, Colombia

woman wearing a traditional clothes in colombia
Come to one of the biggest Colombia celebrations held in Barranquilla and join in the fun!

The Carnival of Barranquilla is known as one of the biggest carnivals in the world. The number of attendees to the Carnival every year hosts at least 2 million attendees every year. The city becomes awash with street dance, music, and masquerade parades.

It begins four days before lent on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday with the Battle of the Flowers. Sunday and Monday are marked for the Great Parade with the Orchestra Festival. On the final day Tuesday, Joselito Carnaval is buried and mourned.

The First Day: Saturday

The carnival starts off with the Battle of the Flowers along Highway 40. The event is headed by the carnival queen with floats, folklore groups, disguises, and dance groups. The name came from a game of two groups of people that shot flowers, plastic party streamers, and confetti at each other while they were on flowered carriages.

The Second Day: Sunday

This is the day of the great folklore parade. Traditional folklore dance groups, cumbia dance groups, and others are allowed to participate on the same road as the first day. This is also a great opportunity to see traditional clothes in Colombia.

The Third Day: Monday

The two most important events happen: The Great Fantasy Parade and the Orchestras Festival. The Great Fantasy Parade highlights the creativity of the Carnival. These dance groups mix traditional, local, and international dance rhythms to produce unique movements on display during the parade.

In the afternoon, you can see the Orchestras Festival which features musical ensembles that last until the following morning. Participants during the festival vie for the Congo de Oro prize in various categories.

The Fourth Day: Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday marks the last day of the Carnival and ushers in the closing of events. The character in the name of Joselito Carnaval is buried city-wide. Across the city, you can find many people making funny burials of Joselito across the city.

He characterizes the joy of the carnival that comes on Saturday and dies on the following day from fatigue and drunkenness. All around the city, people mourn his death in a playful way. Some men dress up as women playing crying widows over a real person dressed up as Joselito or a dummy to be resurrected again next year.

There is no worry. After all, Joselito will come back again for next year’s festivities.

5. The Christmas Lights in Medellín, Medellín, Colombia

Medellín Christmas Lights along Medellin river.
Many Colombia celebrations are grand like the Christmas lights in Medellín.

This celebration is also known as “the Lighting.” During Christmas, the city of Medellín hangs millions of Alumbrados, otherwise known as Christmas lights along the Medellín River and La Playa Avenue. Apart from going around and seeing all of the light displays, the city is host to light shows and cultural events that are supported by the city government.

Religious in nature, the lights turn on December 7 which coincides with the día de las velitas, or the day of the little candles. When you tour viewing the lights, it’s best you do so on foot or public transportation. You can also avail of the local foods like Buñuelos, Natilla, and Empanadas and of course practice due diligence and safety during the evenings.

There’s so much fun to discover in Colombia!

There’s still so much to discover in Colombia. Visiting and joining in on one of the many parades or carnivals will impart a bit of the local energy into your life.

After all, one of their guiding views on life is known as vivir sabroso or “to live joyfully.” This is very much shown in the way they celebrate their history, culture, and traditions even if they have gone through painful moments in times past.

But why go alone? Celebrations are best spent in the company of others or touring around with your beloved. Consider joining one of our tours and see if it coincides with any of these festivities to get the most out of your trip.

Consider taking a break from your 9 to 5 and fill your life with color and joy. Plan your trip to Colombia today!

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