Colombia is a country that has been characterized as one of the happiest in the world. This is partly due to the large number of carnivals, fairs and parties that it has. Today colombiabybus brings you a description of the best Colombian carnivals.

Photo: Flickr

“Colombia tierra querida himno de fe y armonía” (Colombian dear land anthem of faith and harmony) this is how one of the typical Colombian songs begin. This song has been heard anywhere in the world where a Colombian proudly wave the tricolor flag. It is the living reflection of the joy and charisma of the Colombian people. And it is not for less, given the surveys made by different consulting companies, Colombia is the second happiest country in the world.

This is because Colombia has the best carnivals where happiness and joy are the main emotions. Music, partying and dancing are just some of the qualities that Colombian people spread to everyone who is a participant in their carnivals.


What is a carnival?

Carnival is synonymous of comparsa, party, masquerade, boom and every word that represents joy. That of what the Colombian people know so much. Historically, the carnival symbolized in Christianity a kind of tribute to the pagan era. Tribute that had to be done before the start of the Major Week or Holy Week but, nowadays, the carnival reflects dance, music, joy; the culture in all its forms.


Which are the best carnivals in Colombia?

Carnival of Barranquilla

Photo: Flickr

Barranquilla, better known as the Golden Gate of Colombia, is the seat of the country’s main carnival. This date is celebrated four days before Ash Wednesday. In this carnival the variety and great cultural richness of the Colombian Caribbean coast is reflected in the costumes, masks and comparsas. All this made by all the members of the artistic groups of each locality of Barranquilla.


The battle of flowers:

The “Marimonda”, the “Monocuco” and the “Garabato” are characters that light the parties in each sector of the city. The famous Battle of Flowers exists since 1903, which is a tribute to the great river of Magdalena and the sea.

Is a majestic spectacle where the artists of the country along with the parade of marimondas, are confused in the “Cumbiodromo” of 40 Avenue from the city. The queens of beauty in their decorated floats invite the community to dance to the rhythm of the music and the comparsas.


The parade of King Momo:

We can not forget the parade of King Momo, much awaited by his passage through the streets crammed with spectators dancing to the beat of the street dancing. That turns the tracks into the biggest dance floor of the Caribbean coast.


The Orchestral Festival:

The Festival of Orchestras, in the parking lot of the Metropolitan Stadium, is the festival that brings together more than 25 orchestras willing to provide the best show for the spectators who do not stop dancing and applaud the rhythm of each presentation.


The death of Joselito Carnival:

After four days of party and more party even the most “rumbero” is exhausted. The death of Joselito Carnival is the representation of the end of the carnival. Every year Joselito die as a victim of hangover and excess of party. The streets celebrate his death in a comparsa where they accompany him on his last revelry.

But keep calm, this death is not forever, the next year Joselito resuscitates. That is because “No estaba muerto, andaba de parranda” (He was not dead, he was on party).


How to come to Barranquilla’s Carnival?

From Bogota, the distance is 976 km; which are approximately 15 hours of travel by land. This distance is compensated with the view of several nice cities and towns. You would be able to observe cities such as Bucaramanga and towns such as Aguachica, Curumani, Fundacion, etc. Until you reach the “Puerta de Oro”.

The bus ticket costs around $200,000 pesos. By plane, the trip is an hour and a half and costs approximately $400,000 from the arado dorado. Arround $70 and $140 USD respectively.


Carnival of Blacks and Whites

Photo: Flickr @Tapiz de Retazos

Its history goes back to the year 1921, it is another one of the oldest carnivals of Colombia. It was declared Cultural Patrimony of the Nation in 2001 by the Congress of Colombia and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco in September 2009. This festivity takes place in the south of Colombia, in the city of Pasto. Located in the department of Nariño.

The origin of this celebration is from the beginning of the 19th century. When the Spanish authorities allowed black slaves to have a day off to celebrate their beliefs. For that reason the Afro-descendant slaves take off the streets of the city and paint the white walls of the houses as a declaration to their day of freedom.

This tradition was extended to the south of the territory and it was in the city of Pasto where this celebration officialy began.

For their part, the white residents of Pasto took the white powder used by the women of the time and began to spread it among them. Trying to protest against the day of freedom granted to the black slaves who painted the walls of the houses dark. This is how this great carnival begins. A carnival that merges Spanish and indigenous culture.


Phases of Carnival of Blacks and Whites

From the 28th of December the inhabitants of Pasto give the first steps for the initiation of the carnival. They begin to wet unsuspecting passers-by. This kind of joke is generally accepted by many. For others, it is not so comfortable due to the low temperature of the city. Still, everyone knows that it is part of the folklore of the carnival.


The “Añoviejo” (old-year):

By December 31st, the streets are filled with dolls of sawdust that are dressed with old clothes that symbolize the old year. The year that is about to end. At twelve o’clock at night the dolls are burned leaving behind all the bad things of the year. These dolls were previously filled with gunpowder but, for security reasons, this activity is prohibited since 2006.

Currently some cities retain the tradition of the old year, but with no gunpowder inside. Still in certain municipalities this practice still prevail.


The Carnival begins:

The parade of colonies officially marks the beginning of the carnival. On January 2nd the inhabitants of Pasto and other regions of the department of Nariño meet in the capital. They embellish the streets with their colorful attire, dances, music and folklore. There is also a place for traditional food lovers. Annually a majestic banquet is organized with the best gastronomy of the region.

The black and white party starts on January 5th and 6th. “Una pintica por favor” (A painting please). This is the most heard phrase in those days. The paintings of black color, the bitumen and flour white as snow, flood the faces of the inhabitants.

The harangues: ¡Que vivan los negros!, ¡Que vivan los blancos! (Long live to black people, long live to white people) are common these days. They ignite the hullabaloo of residents and visitors.


How to come to the Blacks and Whites Carnival?

Departing from Bogota, the route is 723 km. Approximately 21 hours of travel in which you can prepare the mind and body to enjoy the most this celebration. The cost of the trip by bus is $ 140,000 pesos ($50 USD approximately).

We recommend you to enjoy some of these carnivals while you learn about the culture and history of Colombia. If you want to know more about destinations in the country, visit our travel blog.