Barranquilla Carnival is an annual celebration, held in the city of Barranquilla, Colombia. It is one of Colombia’s most important folkloric celebrations and dates back to the 19th century. Crowned the second largest carnival in the world, the four day celebration resembles the Rio Carnival, but with a Caribbean twist. Celebrated annually before Ash Wednesday, the streets of Barranquilla fill up with colourful outfits, crowds and culture.
“Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza” – “those who live it are those who enjoy it.”
The carnival takes place over four days each year before Ash Wednesday, celebrating the season of lent. The celebration consists of parades, parties, orchestras, festivals and more.
The first day of the carnival (Saturday) starts with the ‘Battle of Flowers’ – a parade headed by the carnival queen and filled with floats, dancing groups and more.
The most important event of the Carnival is carried out on the second day – Gran Parada (the great parade). Introduced in 1967, the parade showcases only traditional folkloric groups, cumbia groups and traditional dancing groups.
The third day showcases a more stylish and international version of the event. ‘The Great Fantasy Parade’ showcases a mixture of the previous days, combining floats with traditional folkloric elements.
Finally, the final day marks the death of Joselito, essentially symbolising the end of the carnival. It is said that the character ‘resuscitate’s’ on the Saturday of the Carnival each year and ‘dies’ on the final day as a result of too much drinking and partying. Many entertaining live performances and play-acting can be seen throughout the streets.
Barranquilla Carnival takes place in the city of Barranquilla in Colombia. The four day celebration takes place in a number of locations throughout the city. The official parade takes place on the industrial avenue of Via 40, while a number of parties are hosted throughout nearby streets as well as local clubs and venues.
Barranquilla is located in the northern part of Colombia, halfway between Santa Marta and Cartagena. The nearest airport is Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport located in Soledad, just outside of Barranquilla; however the nearest major airports are Cartagena and Santa Marta. There are a number of bus services that can be booked in advance or upfront, to transfer visitors to and from nearby major cities and airports.
The city of Barranquilla is quite small and can be easily walked. Public transport is available and taxi’s are readily available throughout the city. It is recommended to take verified taxi’s at night to ensure safety; fares start at 6000 Colombian Pesos (approximately $2).
There are a number of affordable accomodation options available throughout the city of Barranquilla. Visitors generally stay in or around the city centre, making the official carnival events and celebrations easily accessible by foot or public transport. Explore the nearest affordable options below.
There are a number of things to see and do in the city of Barranquilla. During your visit to the carnival, a number of activities and celebrations are available throughout the entire week. Street parades take place on the main avenue throughout the day, displaying traditional costumes, dancing, floats and more. Parties take place day and night, throughout the streets and even in local houses!
With so many celebrations happening day and night, visiting Barranquilla Carnival for the first time can definitely be overwhelming. Here’s Rad’s top three bucket list things to experience at Barranquilla Carnival 2020.
Catch the parade from the grand stands – With bright and colourful parades taking place throughout the entire week, get the full carnival experience by purchasing tickets to the seated grand stand area. Free viewing areas are available but views are often disrupted. Vendors sell entry tickets to the grand stands as you enter the parade area; offering you the perfect view of the visually stunning parade.
Get Messy – One of the many traditions of Barrnquilla Carnival is getting messy! As you wander the streets of Barranquilla, many vendors will offer to sell you aerosols filled with foam or small boxes of corn starch. Children often run around the streets spraying each other with foam and throwing bags of cornstarch at each other. Make sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, load up on your ‘weapons’ and get messy!
Watch the ‘Burial of Joselito’ – The final day of the carnival is marked by the ‘death of Joselito’ – the character that symbolises the joy of the carnival. On the final day of festivities, head out to the main street to catch one of many live performances from the locals; acting out the death and resurrection of the beloved character. This will no doubt be one of the most memorable street performances you see during your visit to Barranquilla!
Barranquilla Carnival will take place from February 20-25, 2020.
Interested in other epic Carnivals in South America? Read more about Carnaval de Oruro in Bolivia and Boi Bumba festival in Brazil.
Rad Season is providing you with hotels and Airbnbs at the lowest prices available online. Book your stay for Barranquilla Carnival 2020 using the map below!
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