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Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia: Dive into a whirlwind of color, dance, and tradition
5 min read
Updated on May 14, 2024

Located on the northern coast of Colombia, Barranquilla transforms into a vibrant explosion of color, rhythm, and tradition every year, welcoming visitors from around the world to its renowned Barranquilla Carnival. This spectacular event is the largest carnival in Colombia and one of Latin America's most celebrated and culturally significant carnivals.

With every detail, this article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to this cultural extravaganza that will leave you spellbound. Additionally, you can use our services to apply for the Colombia Check-MIG form, an essential document to enter the country. Prepare to enjoy a lifetime experience at the Barranquilla Carnival!

colombia barranquilla festival

A celebration of heritage: the roots of the Barranquilla Carnival

Barranquilla Carnival, often dubbed "Carnaval de Barranquilla," is a testament to Colombia's rich cultural heritage. Its origins date back to the 19th century when the city's multicultural blend of African, Indigenous, and Spanish influences gave birth to a unique celebration. This fusion of cultures resulted in a special carnival, mixing elements of folklore, music, dance, and artistry.

In 2003, UNESCO recognized the Barranquilla Carnival as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity." This prestigious recognition highlighted the carnival's significance in preserving and promoting Colombia's diverse traditions.

When does the Barranquilla Carnival start?

Be prepared for a multi-day extravaganza featuring vibrant events to celebrate Colombian culture and tradition. You can start to enjoy the atmosphere through the pre-carnival events, including the Gay Parade, Children’s Carnival, and Popular Queens Reign.

Then, dive into the carnival festivities! Here's a chronological list of the main events:

  • La Batalla de Flores (The Battle of the Flowers): Barranquilla Carnival starts on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday with this six-hour spectacle, presided over by the Carnival Queen.

  • King Momo Parade: Still on Saturday, a great fantasy parade occurs in honor of the carnival character King Momo.

  • La Gran Parada (The Great Parade): On Sunday, this event sees dance groups competing against each other while festival-goers take to the streets in masks and disguises. It reflects the carnival spirit!

  • Orchestra Festival: Held on Carnival Monday, this event is dominated by the infectious rhythms of Latin and Caribbean music, bringing people together in a joyous celebration of music and dance.

  • Symbolic Burial of Joselito Carnaval: The Carnival comes to a close on Tuesday with the symbolic burial of Joselito Carnaval, a poignant moment that marks the end of the festivities, emphasizing the cyclical nature of this cherished tradition.

Some of the events may seem similar to the Rio Carnival in Brazil. But rest assured that the Barranquilla Carnival is a unique experience!

Dances and costumes: the visual spectacle of the Barranquilla Carnival

There’s no way to celebrate carnival without stunning dances and costumes gracing the streets. Among the traditional dances in the Barranquilla Carnival, you’ll find the following:

  • Cumbia: A traditional Colombian dance with African influences.

  • Mapalé: A lively and energetic dance performed by men and women.

  • Garabato: This dance is performed by groups of men wearing large wooden frames.

  • Conga: This one has groups of people who dance in a circle.

The costumes of the Barranquilla Carnival are just as impressive as the dances. They’re often made with bright colors, feathers, and sequins. Some of the most traditional costumes include:

  • Marimondas: A mixture of an elephant and a primate, with a tie, a big long nose, big ears, and a big mouth. The mask of the costume is accompanied by a rubber whistle called "pea pea".

  • Negritas Puloy: Women who dress up as African women and wear large, colorful skirts.

  • Monocucos: A large colored robe with a hood to cover the face. It also consists of a mask covering the rest of the face with a cloth.

The Battle of the Flowers: A parade like no other

One of the most iconic events during the carnival is "the Battle of the Flowers" or "La Batalla de Flores." During this great parade, decorated floats with blossoms parade through the city streets. The participants compete to create the most stunning floral arrangements, a sight to behold for locals and tourists alike.

Thousands of spectators line the streets, armed with flowers, prepared to engage in the playful tradition of pelting the floats and performers with floral projectiles, creating a fragrant, colorful "battle" that symbolizes the city's celebration of life and nature.

Music of Barranquilla: from Cumbia to Mapalé

The Barranquilla Carnival is a feast for the eyes and a symphony for the ears. Music permeates every aspect of the celebration, with the beats of drums, the melodies of flutes, and the strumming of guitars filling the air.

The soul-stirring sounds of Cumbia, a genre born in the coastal regions of Colombia, dominate the dance spaces, accompanied by the electrifying rhythms of Mapalé and Porro. These genres are brought to life by talented musicians and dancers who take center stage during the carnival, captivating audiences with their mesmerizing performances.

Attending the Carnival: Tips for first-time visitors

For those planning their first visit to the Barranquilla Carnival, here are a few essential tips to ensure you make the most of this extraordinary experience:

  • Book accommodations early: Hotels and guesthouses tend to fill up quickly during the carnival season, so make your reservations well in advance to secure a place to stay.

  • Sample local cuisine: Don't miss the chance to savor traditional Colombian dishes like arepas and empanadas from street vendors. It's a delicious way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

  • Wear comfortable shoes: With all the dancing and walking you'll be doing, comfortable shoes are a must. Leave your high heels or uncomfortable footwear behind.

  • Dress colorfully: Embrace the spirit of the carnival by dressing in vibrant, colorful attire. It's a great way to blend in with the festive atmosphere and join in the celebrations.

  • Learn some basic Spanish phrases: While many locals may speak English, knowing a few basic Spanish words can help navigate the city and interact with the locals.

  • Travel documents: You must get the Colombia Check-MIG form to enter Colombia, and most nationalities also need a visa. Check your visa requirements using our Visa Checker Tool.

colombia festival culture

Get the Colombia Check-MIG form with us

For travelers planning to attend the colorful festivities of the Barranquilla Carnival, getting a Colombia Check-MIG form is a requirement. This document acts as Colombia's equivalent of a health declaration, ensuring that travelers provide the Colombian authorities with information about their health status.

But don’t worry about complicated government websites and hassle applications. We've streamlined the process, offering a convenient, simplified online application form. Applying through our user-friendly platform and form guarantees a smooth experience.

Are you ready to dance in Barranquilla? Get the Colombia Check-MIG Form with us and join Colombia's biggest festival!

Contact us

Do you have inquiries regarding the Colombia Check-MIG Form? No worries! Our customer service team is here to assist you. Feel free to contact us via our online chat or email us at [email protected].

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