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Barranquilla Carnival is an explosive 4 day event that fuses the best of Indigenous, African and Spanish festivity. It is an ecstatic celebration of ethnic diversity expressed through dance, music, art, food and wild partying. The second biggest carnival in South America, it was declared a UNESCO World Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for its grandeur and culturally rich history, dating back to the turn of the 19th century.
The carnival is made up of dozens of non-stop events including The Battle of The Flowers and The Grand Parade. Hundreds of thousands of partygoers dress up in extravagant costumes and the streets are flooded with color, dance, music and jolliness. There are fairytale floats, beauty queens, musicians, theatrical performers and an overwhelming amount of odd characters everywhere you look. It´s like a whole city transforms into a giant circus show on hot coals, a surreal experience.
The parade remains mostly a family event and small children scurry around everywhere mounting foam attacks on unsuspecting grown-ups. The spectacle is also wrapped up heavily in folkloric tradition and there are many characters that have been a central part of the carnival for over a century, such as King Momo, the Queen of Queens and the long-nosed Marimondas. Another important part of the carnival is satire, and many a George Bush, FARC terrorist and Hugo Chavez can be seen making a fool of themself among the crowd.
Barranquilla Carnival is an event that no one in the world should miss if they have the opportunity to go. Unlike in Rio de Janeiro, foreigners praise the experience for its friendly, non-commercial atmosphere. In fact, many visitors report being invited to dine in the homes of friendly locals. Security is stepped up significantly during the carnival period and while you should always keep your wits about you, the event is as safe as any other in the world.
One simply has to approach the four day party with the official Carnival motto: “The person who lives it, is who enjoys it¨.