The annual Barranquilla Carnival is set to start Saturday and will continue on for four days of lights, color, music, parades and shows.
The UNESCO recognized festival has mixed roots of European, African and native South American cultures and is second in the world only to that of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is said that African slaves and indigenous populations from Colombia’s Caribbean coast fused their traditions and as time went by, the celebrations turned into an annual festival and a celebration of Christian Holy Week.
The Carnival of Barranquilla was proclaimed a Cultural Masterpiece of the Nation by Colombia’s National Congress in 2002 as well as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2003.
The carnival brings in tourists from all over the world who wish to enjoy everything the culturally rich carnival has to offer.
Saturday March 1
The Barranquilla Carnival kicks off with the “Battle of the Flowers” at midday and consists of a traditional float parade composed of the greatest and most colorful creations. The show is led by the Carnival Queen followed by folk dances, musicians, dance groups, costumed groups, marchers, disguises and fire breathers. This year the Carnival Queen is 18-year old journalism student Clarissa Maria Torres.
Saturday also marks the beginning of the Comedy Festival which will continue on over the four days.
Sunday March 2
Sunday marks the day of the big parade. However the Sunday parade is different as, rather than floats, different masked dance groups compete in a parade through the streets against one another to win the coveted prize of performing the Battle of the Flowers the following year.
Monday March 3
Monday too has a parade but more to show off traditional and intricate costumes. There is also the Orchestra Festival in which some of the continents best musicians play and bands compete to win the prize of the “Golden Congo”.
Tuesday March 4
The parade of Tuesday is much smaller with the real focus being on the “death and burial”Joselita Carnaval – a symbolic character who represents the happiness of the festival and who is “resurrected” on the Saturday and dies of exhaustion and drunkenness on the Tuesday.
The day after the carnival finishes is Ash Wednesday marking the start of the Christian holiday of Lent.
Programación del Carnaval de Barranquilla 2014 (Barranquilla Carnival 2014 Official site)