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Carnival of Barranquilla: Inside Colombia’s Largest Carnival Festival

By Parker Diakite

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Colombia is a country full of alluring traditions and culture that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. One festival, in particular, that attracts some of Colombia’s tourists is the Carnival of Barranquilla.

Barranquilla’s Carnival slogan is “quien lo vive, es quien lo goza,” which in English translates to “those who live it are those who enjoy it.” It’s the second largest carnival in the world right after Carnival Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

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Located two-hours away from Cartagena, Barranquilla is situated on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.  The four-day celebration was declared a Colombian National Culture Heritage and UNESCO declared it one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003.

Here’s What You Need To Know

The festival begins on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and kicks off with La Batalla de Flores, or The Battle of Flowers.  As one of the main attractions, the Battle of Flowers is the oldest and biggest parade in the festival that comprises six hours of parading along with several more hours of partying. 

The next two days involve more parades and street parties before the grand finale on Tuesday which involves the burial of Joselito Carnaval, a character in the ceremony who is “revived” during the Battle of Flowers before “dying” once again on Tuesday to be “reborn” a year later for the next Carnival, according to the Medellin Guru.  

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If you are planning on a trip to the festival, you should consider purchasing tickets in advance. 

Tickets aren’t necessary, but locals say they can help guarantee the best views.  Attending Barranquilla’s Carnival is free for but tickets will allow you to watch the parades on bleachers from the street with seating.

Also, don’t be afraid to dress up. The costumes worn in and around the parades are the highlights of the carnival. 

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Parker Diakite

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