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Barranquilla's Carnival

Barranquilla's Carnival'
Carnaval de Barranquilla
Dancing at the carnival
Official name Carnaval de Barranquilla
Observed by Various locales, usually ones historically associated with Catholic populations.
Type Local, cultural, catholic
Significance Celebration prior to fasting season of Lent.
Celebrations Parades, parties, orchestras festival
Date Four days before Ash Wednesday
2015 date February 14, 15, 16 and 17
2016 date February 6, 7, 8 and 9
2017 date February 25, 26, 27 and 28
Frequency annual
Related to Carnival SZ + ADP

Barranquilla's Carnival (Spanish: Carnaval de Barranquilla) is Colombia's most important folklore celebration, and one of the biggest carnival in the world. The carnival has traditions that date back to the 19th century. Forty days before Holy Week, Barranquilla decks itself out to receive national and foreign tourists, and join together with the city's inhabitants to enjoy four days of intense festivities. During the carnival Barranquilla's normal activities are paralyzed because the city gets busy with street dances, musical and masquerade parades. Barranquilla's Carnival includes dances like the Spanish paloteo, African congo and indigenous mico y micas. Many styles of Colombian music are also performed, most prominently cumbia, and instruments include drums and wind ensembles. The Carnival of Barranquilla was proclaimed Cultural Masterpiece of the Nation by Colombia's National Congress in 2002.[1] Also the UNESCO, in Paris on November 7, 2003, declared it as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and it was during Olga Lucia Rodriquez Carnival Queen year.

The Carnival starts on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday with the Battle of the Flowers (La Batalla de Flores), which is considered one of the main activities. Then, The Great Parade (La Gran Parada) on Sunday and Monday is marked by an Orchestra Festival with Caribbean and Latin bands. Tuesday signals the end of the carnival, announced by the burial of Joselito Carnaval, who is mourned by everyone.

Barranquilla's Carnival slogan is: Who lives it, is who enjoys it (Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza).


  • History 1
  • Activities 2
  • Music and Dancing 3
  • Costumes and Dances 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


  • 1888: King Momo emerges as one of the main characters.
  • 1899: The first President of the Carnival and the first Board of directors were elected.
  • 1903: The first Battle of Flowers parade (Spanish: Batalla de las Flores) takes place. Thanks to Heriberto Bengoechea's initiative in order to recover the carnival tradition of the previous years. Also to celebrate the end of the War of the One Thousand Days ( Spanish: Guerra de los Mil Dias).
  • 1918: The first beauty queen of the carnival is elected and was Alicia Lafaurie Roncallo. The queen is the person in charge of hosting the carnival's ceremonies.
  • 1923: The Carnival is institutionalized from that moment on, since the queen contest was cancelled for 5 years.
  • 1967: A new event is introduced to the carnival,The Great Parade.It takes place on the second day of the carnival, usually on Sundays.
  • 1969: The Orchestra Festival is created, which is a musical competition within the different genres.
  • 1974: The first Guacherna takes place by Esther Forero's initiative. The Guacherna is celebrated in the suburbs.
  • 2002: The Carnival was declared was proclaimed as Cultural Masterpiece of the Nation.
  • 2003: The Carnival of Barranquilla was proclaimed by UNESCO on November 7, as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.


A Carnival de Barranquilla costume.

The carnival queen is chosen at the end of the previous year so that she has time to prepare herself. The King Momo is also chosen around this time, and whoever is the queen or the king has taken part in the carnival since childhood and is well known for his carnival spirit. Rehearsals for the carnival start several weeks before the Carnival and every Friday of this season is Carnival Friday.

The Carnival Queen presides over the different events until the symbolic burial of Joselito Carnaval (Joseph Carnival). Carnival starts off with the Pre-Carnival activities. The festival officially begins with the Lectura del Bando, which is the traditional reading of the carnival proclamation. Here it is stated that everyone must enjoy themselves, dance and party wildly. Although the carnival officially initiates with this activity, in Barranquilla there is happiness and joy weeks before of this. The Pre-Carnival activities include the Lectura Del Bando, Toma de la Ciudad (Taking the City), the Crowing of the Carnival Queen and King, the Children’s Carnival Procession,and finally the most important pre-carnival event, La Guacherna. The Guacherna is a night parade of dances, cumbias, and masquerades, which takes place a Friday before the Saturday of carnival.[2]

The Carnival starts on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday with the Battle of the Flowers, which is the most important event of the carnival. The Battle of the Flowers is a traditional float parade composed of the greatest and most colorful creations. Approximately, is a six hour show of floats and it is led by the Carnival Queen followed by folk dances, musicians, dance groups, costumed groups, marchers, disguises and fire breathers. The audience can enjoy all the carnival characters here.

Sunday of Carnival is when the Great Parade takes place. It is considered a day of mask and disguises because floats are not present this day. Different dance groups compete against each other for the coveted prize of performing in the Battle of the Flowers the following year.

Monday is marked by an Orchestra Festival, with Caribbean and Latin bands from early afternoon until early Tuesday. The Festival involved various categories and groups that compete for the coveted Golden Congo.[3] The Fantasy Parade is also presented on Monday, and it is a very colorful parade in which all kinds of customs are seen.

Tuesday signals the end of the carnival, announced by the burial of Joselito Carvajal, who is mourned by everyone. Joselito, a character who symbolizes the joy of the festivities, who had resurrected the Saturday of carnival and dies on the last day tired and hungover to resurrect the following year in the next carnival. Tuesday`s parade is shorter than the other parades, and here happy widows participate crying because of this personage`s death. It is similar to burial. At night, a funny litany is celebrated with simple lines and its characteristic tone, and current national and international affairs are criticized. The next day is Ash Wednesday and Lent, a period of religious devotion and abstinence, begins.[4]

All of the carnival events are often broadcast live by regional television channels. The Carnival of Barranquilla is very important for the economy of the entire region. Tourism increases significantly these 4 days, which are holidays in Barranquilla.

Music and Dancing

The music contains a mixture of cumbia, porro, mapale, gaita, chandé, puya, fandango, and fantastic merecumbés. These are examples of many styles of Colombian music. It is a party that gathers up tradition based on the creativity of the Colombian people, and it is expressed by a lot of forms of dancing, music, and also by the wearing of different costumes. The Carnaval of Barranquilla is unique because of its cultural diversity and because it is a party where the people are the main protagonists. Every dance, every folkloric group, and every custom play different roles to make the party the best show on earth.

The Carnaval of Barranquilla is multicultural, diverse, and rich in different cultural expressions.There are traditional dances, choreographic dances; Comparsas (a form of live music), with which the choreography and creativity of dances are expressed; Comedies, like litany are traditional and folkloric popular theater, these are traditional groups that sing in groups ; These can be individual, or collectives, structural, and dramatic.

Costumes and Dances

La Marimonda, which are hooded figures with long noses, floppy ears and bright trousers and vests, is the most popular costume because it is the only costume that originated in Barranquilla. The rest of the costumes come from European or African origin.[5]

Other traditional customs are El garabato, El Africano, Dracula, El torito, EL Congo, El Monocuco, Los Cabezones, Las Muñeconas, and El Tigrillo.[6]

The Carnival´s dances are: La Cumbia, El Garabato, El Son de Negro, El Congo, El Mapale, El Caiman, El Paloteo, El Gusano, Las Farotas, De Relacion and Las Pilanderas.

"The cumbia, a good example of the fusion of Indian, Black and White elements that simulates a couple courting and is characterized by the elegance and subtle movements of the woman’s hips to the rhythm of a drum and flute."[7] Another of the main dances is the Garabato, which represents a mystical battle between life and death. The Congo represents African tradition in its movement and also the memory of slavery in America.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "Historia y Origen". Fundacion Carnaval de Barranquilla. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Colombia Contact". Colombia Contact. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Carnaval de barranquilla
  4. ^ Carnaval de barranquilla
  5. ^ Carnaval de barranquilla
  6. ^ "Carnaval de Barranquilla". Fundacion Carnval de Barranquilla. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Barranquilla Carnival: The Most Colorful Carnival in the World". Colombia Travel. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Barranquilla Carn ival, History and Tradition of a Town". Virtual Andean Tourist Routes. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 

External links

  • Barranquilla Carnival Official Web Site
  • Barranquilla Carnaval Pictures, Video and Hotel Information
  • Joselito Carvajal
  • The Battle of Colors (Carnival photo series)
  • The Barranquilla Carnival: The Most Colorful Carnival in the World
  • Cultura de Barranquilla
  • Carnavales de Barranquilla

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
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