Carnaval de Barranquilla | Tips to Ensure a Fun Experience

Photo of a reveler in Barranquilla
Experience the exciting and lively Carnaval de Barranquilla.

When planning a trip to a country like Colombia - a nation blessed with cultures and traditions as beautiful and vibrant as its people, the best possible way to make your trip a lot more worthwhile is to travel during one of their festivals.

One of the most popular and colorful festivals in the world is annually held in the lively and dynamic city of Barranquilla. Carnaval de Barranquilla (Carnival of Barranquilla) is regarded as the second largest festival in the world, right next to the Rio Carnival in Brazil. It is also recognized by UNESCO as among the country’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Carnival grand parade is annually held during the lead up to Ash Wednesday, but the festival starts long before that—a month before to be exact. The festival is essentially divided into three seasons, namely Carnival preparations, Pre-Carnival, and the Carnival itself. But of course, the month-long preparation is culminated by the grand parade where street dancers in flamboyant costumes flood the streets along with colorful and elaborate floats.

But before you make any reservations and book a one-way ticket to Barranquilla, here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a safe and memorable Colombia vacation:

  • 1. Wear comfortable clothes which you don’t mind dirtying up - Paint, foam, and water are probably a staple gimmick apparatus for almost every festival. And the Carnival in Barranquilla is certainly no different. So wear something airy and comfortable that you don’t mind messing up because trust us, you’ll get messy before you even know it.
  • 2. Be mindful of your belongings - Although Barranquilla is a relatively safe city for tourists, it still wouldn’t hurt to take precautionary measures. So when you go out on the streets during the festival, be mindful of your valuables, and keep an eye out for pickpockets and thieves. Better yet, don’t bring any valuable items at all. Just bring a camera and a burner phone and you’ll be all set.
  • 3. Don’t just stay in one place - To get a fully immersive cultural experience, try to go around the city as much as you can. As nice and colorful the parade is, the fun actually lies in the inner cities where you’ll most likely run into several street parties. If you want to get a taste of the wet and wild Barranquilla nightlife in broad daylight, moving around is the way to go.
  • 4. Wear sunscreen - Colombia is a tropical country, so expect the weather to be humid and hot. To avoid getting sunburnt, wear sunscreen and keep it handy in case you’ll need more throughout the day. It’s also advisable to always bring water to stay hydrated.
  • 5. Make sure to buy some souvenirs - There are plenty of vendors selling all sorts of stuff during the festival, so make sure to get yourself something that you’ll remember your Barranquilla experience by. Some of which you can even wear during the festival, like shirts, bracelets, headdresses and other ornaments.

Carnaval de Barranquilla is the perfect exhibition of Colombia’s rich culture and colorful tradition. It is a mixture of pagan and Christian beliefs along with indigenous ethnic values and the convergence of different foreign influences. Indeed there’s no better time to make a trip to the country than during Barranquilla Carnival season.

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