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Turn up the heat in Colombia this January


The turn of the year brings festival season in Colombia; perhaps South America’s most positively transformed travel destination. As it shrugs off its unstable history and revels in its fresh reputation, the city streets of Cali and Bogota are alive with stomping Salsa, Latin pop and the vibrant beats of carnival. Their events are so great, they even brag UNESCO-protected status. We look towards turning up the heat with three of Colombia’s best parties…

La Feria de Cali – 25th – 30th December

If you sense your Christmas break needs more spark, head to Cali Fest for horseback parades, salsa marathons and high-energy dance parties. In a city dubbed the ‘Salsa World Capital’ by renowned salsa stars, this is one of two yearly festivals dedicated to this fiery performance. The event also honours the fusion of Latin and Afro-Caribbean music all over the country. Steel drummers, dance processions, lines of street food, dazzling beauty pageants and hordes of local attendees amount to an explosive celebration of Colombian culture – enough to rival Rio!

Carnival de Negros y Blancos 5th – 6th January

One of Colombia’s UNESCO protected gems, this festival has a significant back story. When Spanish colonial authorities declared 6th January 1912 a national day off for all black slaves, they took to the streets, dancing and powdering their faces white in celebration. In support, the white people painted their faces black the next day, and the annual Blacks and Whites’ Carnival was begun. In tribute to national unity, thousands flood the southern city of Pasto every year – throwing black and white powder and dancing through confetti-strewn streets alongside some very psychedelic carnival floats.

Carnival de Barranquilla 25th – 28th February

Barranquilla CarnivalBarranquilla Carnival’s slogan; ‘Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza’ (‘Those who live it are those who enjoy it’) is a perfect summation of the Colombian attitude. Held in the city of Barranquilla and the biggest carnival in the country, each February the locals enjoy a four-day toast to their cultural identity. The festival’s pagan roots from the 19th century have developed into a focus on fun, vitality and national pride, as locals and tourists are all welcomed to the celebration. Delicious street food, masquerade shows, and of course, more music is all on the bill. Dance is a central feature with Spanish paloteo, African congo, Colombian cumbia and the indigenous ‘mico y micas’ among the parades. The ideal way to appreciate Colombia’s roots and its cultural fusion: joining the locals in their biggest, boldest street party.

Make it happen

Colombia is an immersive sensory experience just waiting for the curious visitor. If you want to join in on its sizzling sights and sounds visit our destination page and fill out an enquiry form. To talk to someone in the TravelLocal office, call 0117 342 7898.


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