Events in Colombia are frequent and celebrated with zeal. As any local will tell you, Colombians take any excuse to enjoy a good party and that’s a great thing for travellers who will be welcomed to the fiesta with open arms – quite often straight into a salsa jig.
Pasto Carnival of Blacks and Whites
The relatively sleepy Southern city of Pasto busts loose at the start of the year in a gush of powder, paint and foam. Carnaval begins with a chilly, city-wide water fight on the 28th of December; but things really kick off on the fourth. Highlights include parades of massive, intricate floats that depict traditional themes and recent political and current events; Black’s day, where safe (we’re assured), specially made paint, is applied to any exposed skin; and White’s Day, where the city erupts into a hilarious, good-natured war of powder and foam. Of course, there are parties everywhere. We’re told this is not just an excuse to have a massive fiesta, but actually a proud, age-long tradition; which is why UNESCO gave it the catchy title of Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Cartagena International Music Festival
A series of concerts by national and international artists set within the walled city. With an emphasis on classical music, the nine-day festival features artists from Europe and Latin America.
El Carnaval de Barranquilla was proclaimed by UNESCO, in November 2003, as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. As locals are fond of saying, it’s second only to Rio’s carnival in terms of size and thanks to the passion of the locals, many consider it just as fun.
El Carnaval de Barranquilla is the best example of Colombia’s triple cultural fusion (European, African, and Indian) in which the Catholic festivities brought by the Spaniards from the Europe blended with aboriginal ceremonies and the musical heritage of African slaves to become a spectacular folk festivity. Although there are four main Carnival days, you can feel the ambiance changing weeks prior to it, when the Caribbean rhythm of carnival music fills the air in anticipation of the festival.
Cartagena International Film Festival
A seven-day celebration of national and international cinema, Cartagena’s International Film Festival has celebrated its 53rd year and continues to draw crowds and influential cinematic guests from around the world.
The Iberoamerican Theatre Festival of Bogotá
Colombia is a bit theatrical, we’d admit. But, every two years, the entire Spanish-speaking world (and other worlds, too) descends onto this country’s capital and lets loose a veritable storm of all things pertaining to the performing arts – including drama, dance, circus, performance art, pantomime, and puppetry. That’s not an all-inclusive list, either. It’s the biggest theatre festival in the world, and during the middle of March (the next one’s next year), Theatre takes over the entire city. Get amongst it!
Bogotá Gay Pride Parade
Having started in 1982 with only around 30 brave participants, this festival has grown up with Bogotá, and thrusts a strong and vibrant community into the limelight. It begins in the National Park, and then flaunts its fabulousness down Carrera 7.
Photo courtesy of: http://comunidad.laopiniondemalaga.es
Rock Al Parque
Rock enthusiasts of all stripes descend upon Bogota’s massive Simon Bolivar Park to turn it into one gigantic, joyful moshpit. This is the biggest and loudest rock festival in South America; and so its schedule is always jam-packed with the best of local and international bands. It’s free, and packed with fervent fans of many different musical genres.
Entrance fee: Free
Additional Information: Belts and alcohol are not permitted into the event.
Feria de las Flores
Colombia is one of the world’s largest producers of flowers, which are renowned worldwide for their quality and spectacular array of colours. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than during August’s festival, where huge rainbow displays line the streets of the city.
The festival, which lasts several days, began in 1957 when 40 peasants from a nearby village started a parade in honour of the city’s silleteros (flower carriers, who carried not just flowers, but possessions and even family members on their backs) and it has been growing in popularity ever since. The highlight of the festival is the parade of the silleteros, during which hundreds of them are honoured as they show off their incredible displays. Another interesting part of the festivities, even if it is a little bit out of place, is the vintage car parade.
Bogotá Film Festival
Promoting and celebrating the Colombian film industry, this festival screens over 200 award-winning films from Colombia and abroad. Films screen at various cinemas around Bogotá, the National Library, and a special open-air cinema in the Botanic Gardens.
Miss Colombia National Beauty Pageant
The coveted National Beauty Pageant, where beautiful woman parade down luminous catwalks in evening wear and bikinis for the whole nation to see. One woman from each of Colombia’s departments is represented at the event and the chosen beauty is elected to represent the country at the Miss Universe competition. In its 75th year, the Pageant brings with it a party atmosphere and Cartagena is transformed into a city of celebration.
Cali is the Salsa Capital of the World. We’ll let that sink in for a few moments.
Alright, that should be long enough.
If you have any love for Latin music and dancing at all, it would probably be remiss of you to not go to Cali between Christmas and the New Year at least once in your life. Because that’s when Cali – who does like to dabble in Salsa a bit even usually – bursts out into a riot of drums, horns, and shaking hips. Nowhere parties like Cali, and it parties hardest at its Fair. Fair enough, we say.