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Carnival of Barranquilla: The Best Kind of Cultural Immersion

Carnival of Barranquilla: The Best Kind of Cultural Immersion

By Tatyana Orozco

Every year, 40 days before the traditional Catholic celebration of Lent, thousands of people gather in Barranquilla, a colorful port city in Northern Colombia near the Caribbean Sea, to celebrate a uniquely Colombian version of Carnival. This is the festival of joy and celebration, and gives Colombians a special platform to show off their artistic talents. (This year the event rolls through town February 9 – 12.)

Carnivals are popular throughout Latin America and are believed to be among the biggest folklore festivals in the world. UNESCO has declared the Carnival as “a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity”.

During the upcoming rolling and dancing and singing festival, Barranquilla decks itself out to receive thousands of national and international tourists, and join typically jump in and join the city’s inhabitants to enjoy four days of intense festivities.

As the festivities get underway, normal routines are paralyzed. The city’s neighborhoods burst with street dances, music and masquerade parades. The whole city erupts into joy as thousands of people pour into the streets and coastlines of the Caribbean Sea express their creative art and culture.

Dance & Joy

The most important features of the Carnival are dances like the Spanish paloteo, African Congo and indigenous dances. Almost every form of Colombian music is performed during the course of the festival.

The Carnival begins on Sunday with an event called Battle of the Flowers, which is a traditional float parade, composed of colorful creations. The second and the third day of the festival are reserved for the Caribbean and Latin bands to stage an orchestra. The festival comes to a close on Tuesday.

During one of these days, there will be a Great Parade. It is also considered a day of mask and disguises, and during which different dance groups compete against each other for a prize given in recognition of the best performance.

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Rehearsals for the carnival start several weeks before the Carnival and every Friday of this season is ‘Carnival Friday.’

For fans of the region’s popular traditions, the Carnival of Barranquilla is a must.

The Carnival dates back to 19th century and is more widely celebrated in the coastal regions of the country. The carnival is more or less an urban phenomenon. Historians say the Carnival was brought to the Americas by the Spanish, the former colonial rulers. In dances such as scribbles, paloteo Devils and Harlequins, Spanish tradition are widely evident.

The festival officially begins with the Lectura del Bando, which is the traditional reading of the carnival proclamation. Here it is stated that every participant must enjoy himself, dance and party wildly.

“Who lives it, is who enjoys it” is the slogan of the carnival.

The Carnival plays a crucial role in boosting local economy, as it attracts thousands of people from around the world. Tourism increases significantly these four days, which are holidays in Barranquilla.

For more information on Barranquilla investment and export promotion opportunities, consult with the team at ProBarranquilla.

About Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with nearly a decade of experience in reporting on politics and international business. He works out of his base in India's outsourcing capital, Bangalore.

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