Vivid colors, music, native dances and pure joy await you at the Barranquilla Carnival, which is considered the ultimate celebration of Colombian identity and tradition by combining colonial, indigenous, African and Caribbean roots. Tolerance, community, passion and love for the homeland shine on the streets and hearts of those who participate for four days in what the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Come and visit the birth city of Sofía Vergara, Shakira, Silvia Tcherassi and Edgar Rentería, also known as the Golden Gate of Colombia, “La Arenosa” or “Curramba, la bella (the beautiful)”. Book now at any of our hotels, Hampton by Hilton Barranquilla and Hilton Garden Inn Barranquilla, and get ready to soak up all the folklore and history hidden behind the Barranquilla Carnival. We will give you an inside glimpse into the main characters and events you will experience and enjoy during your attendance to one of the continent’s best carnivals.
The Most Iconic Characters of the Barranquilla Carnival
The hundreds of colorful outfits with elephant ears, long tubular noses and disproportionate ties will fascinate you. This native and representative figure of the Carnival is known as the marimonda. Its exaggerated and satirical nature was created to make fun of everyone, especially high society and the authorities. It is said that its origin comes from one of the first Carnivals, when a Barranquilla local without the financial resources to buy an elaborate outfit decided to wear his clothes inside out and instead use items he had readily available.
An iconic symbol of the Carnival, we must reference Greek mythology to learn more about the origins of King Momo. Mythology identifies him as a lesser god who personified satire and mockery. Every year a Momo King is crowned and he is in charge of presiding over the great party. In addition to accompanying the queen throughout the event, his main function is to represent and promote the enjoyment and festive spirit of the Carnival.
Try not to be sad when you see the renowned and famous Joselito. Tradition speaks of a carnival-goer who has such a great time during the festivities that he does not even stop by his house, but who, in addition, totally covered in flour, spends all his time drunk and dancing. On the last day of the party, he is found dead. It represents the end of the party, the transition from revelry to everyday life.
Surely you are going to run into men dressed as sensual women with extravagant dresses, painted lips, high heels and bows of different colors on their heads. During the Carnival, María Moñitos makes sure to flirt and distribute caresses and kisses to carnival-goers, spreading laughter, love and joy.
The Caiman Man
Tribute is paid to the magic and legend behind the alligator man during the Carnival. So, get ready to see many costumes of this animal, half man/half caiman, dancing and enjoying throughout the carnival. Its origin dates a time when this animal was revered by the indigenous people of the Caribbean and subject to a myriad of stories that include that of a man who, when taking a potion from a sorcerer, became a reptile. Another story says the lizard seduced and impregnated women who later gave birth to reptiles.
Every year at the end of February, the largest gathering of foreigners and Colombians descend on the modern and beautiful city of Barranquilla for what is the largest cultural celebration in the country. For the year 2020, the carnival is scheduled to take place from February 22 to 25 and as the locals say: “who lives it is who truly enjoys it.”
On the Saturday of the Carnival, the party begins with spectacular parades and dances during the “battle of flowers.” Its name came about in response to the commemoration to the end of the 1,000-day war and to counteract what was known as the “battle of bullets.” On Sunday, the inspiring and passionate Great Parade is held where you can enjoy different cumbia dances. Monday is the Great Parade of Comparsas and the Festival of Orchestras where old and new musical generations meet. On Tuesday, we advise you to come prepared because it is the day of Joselito’s Burial.
Get ready to get lost in the colors and folklore of floats and dancers. You will not find these dances and costumes anywhere else. Salsa, timbales and vallenato are classics of the stage this day, as well as cumbias (garabatos, mapalé and son de negro). Brandy and rum are sold on every corner, as these are the drinks of choice for attendees. The best part of the Carnival are the different costumes attendees create but especially those who make fun of society and the contemporary world, including costumes of Nicolás Maduro or Iván Duque.
During the party, it is very common to throw flour and foam, so we recommend you wear comfortable clothing that you’re prepared to get dirty for the occasion. Make sure you also wear sunscreen, repellent, sunglasses and a hat to protect you from the sun and heat. During this time, Barranquilla welcomes a lot of tourists, both local and international, so try to book your room at any of the Hilton hotels far in advance. Come and enjoy one of the largest and most iconic parties on the continent and live it up like a true local.