Carnivals & Festivals – Daytours4u Tours, activities and travel tips in South America Tue, 09 Oct 2018 13:59:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 96832869 The Ibero-American Theater Festival 2018 will raise its curtain this March 16 in Bogota Tue, 13 Mar 2018 12:00:58 +0000 Representatives and lovers of world stage art return their attention to Bogota, the city that every two years turns into the stage of one of the most important theatrical events in the world: the Ibero-American Theater Festival. From March 16 to April 1, the capital of Colombia will be filled with magic with the production [...]

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Representatives and lovers of world stage art return their attention to Bogota, the city that every two years turns into the stage of one of the most important theatrical events in the world: the Ibero-American Theater Festival. From March 16 to April 1, the capital of Colombia will be filled with magic with the production of more than 40 plays, dances, a clown, music and cabaret from 15 countries.

During this edition, which is the sixteenth, the festival will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its creation. Fanny Mikey (1930-2008) -actor, director and businesswoman of Colombian-Argentinean theater- and Ramiro Osorio – Colombian cultural leader- were the founders of this extraordinary event, which was created with the goal of celebrating the 450th anniversary of the birth of Bogotá. Since then, the Festival has been held every two years and has become the largest theater event in Latin America.

The guest country is Argentina, who will amaze attendees with renowned international directors such as Alejandro Tantanian and Mauricio Kartun, and long-time actors like Marilú Marini. A tribute will also be paid to Tomaž Pandur (1963-2016), a Slovenian dramatist who has been an icon of the Ibero-American Theater Festival since 1990.


Where: a total of 23 theaters were arranged for the festival. The main ones will be the Santamaría Bullring and Simón Bolívar Park. Learn about the rest of the amphitheaters.

Tickets: go to or call the call center 5936300 to purchase tickets.

Exhibits: Discover in this link the plays you want to see. Among the classic pieces are Macbeth by director Alessandro Serra and the Italian company Serdegna Teatro; and Pinocchio, by Roseland Musical, an adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s classic. Those looking for a more musical show can attend Afrogitano, the work of Curro de Candela, an exponent of contemporary flamenco, while fans of circus and jazz will have their space with Scotch and Soda, by Company 2, in cabaret format.

Travel Tip: The Ibero-American Theater Festival is one of the many shows that take place in this country. Discover in this link the Festivals and Cultural Events in Colombia that are held every year and include these cultural activities in your itinerary.

Enjoy your trip in Colombia and let yourself be enchanted by the charm of Bogota’s Ibero-American Theater Festival. Take advantage of your journey through the city to experience its emblematic touristic places and its magical corners with Colombia4u. Check out our catalog of tours and activities in Colombia, and contact our Customer Service team to get rid of any doubts.

By: Daytours4u Content Team

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Festivals and cultural events in Colombia Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:51:30 +0000 Colombia is a country without seasons, surrounded by two oceans, which means that all year round the weather is perfect for a beach party or a walk through the snow. This same geographical versatility is reflected in the Colombian popular culture that offers locals and foreigners festivals and cultural events that meet the interests of [...]

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Colombia is a country without seasons, surrounded by two oceans, which means that all year round the weather is perfect for a beach party or a walk through the snow. This same geographical versatility is reflected in the Colombian popular culture that offers locals and foreigners festivals and cultural events that meet the interests of all travelers. In the calendar of Colombia find out which are the most important cultural events that take place each month in this land of magical realism!

The parties in Colombia begin with the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros / Source

Festivals in January

– Blacks and Whites’ Carnival- Pasto. The celebrations in Colombia kick off with this event, which always begins the first week of January. In 2009 it was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco and it is a festival that has its origins in 1546. With an explosion of rhythms that reflects the traditions of Andean and Pacific ethnic groups, the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival in Pasto is divided into four stages: the inaugural parade, the blacks’ day, the whites’ day and the closing, which occurs on January 7 with the Day of the Cuy (guinea pig).

When: From the December 28 to January 7

Travel tip: Find the official program here.

– Manizales fair – Manizales. For 62 years, the Manizales Fair has combined the traditions from Seville (Spain) with the coffee culture. Fans of bullfighting will find various activities that are ideal for them, because over the years the fair has had bullfighters like ‘El Juli’, Ponce, Roca Rey, Manolo González and Alfredo Jiménez, among others. Bear in mind that 80% of this fair’s events are free, except for those related to bullfighting.

The closing concert has artists of different genres: vallenato, reggaeton, salsa and mainstream music.

When: From January 5 to 14, 2018.

Travel tip: Discover all the details in the Fan Page

– Hay Festival – Cartagena. ‘Hay festival’ is a European initiative that seeks to bring together the literati with music and the arts. In Colombia this event takes place in Cartagena, as the main venue, during the last weeks of January.

Year after year, film critics, musicians, writers and journalists from different parts of the world gather at forums, conferences and workshops for a week to debate, comment and inform about the literary works of the moment, making every corner of the walled city come alive. Due to the convergence of foreign artists, the event is intended for both Spanish and English speakers.

When: From January 24 to February 1st 2018.

Travel tip: For the first time, the best Latin American authors under 40 will meet. As for music, Julieta Venegas, Ana Belén and Andrés Cepeda will be performing. Visit the official Hay Festival website to learn more.

The Bahía Group during the Hay Festival Cartagena 2006 event / Photo by: OAGREDOP

Festivals in February

– Barranquilla Carnival: The Barranquilla Carnival is the Colombian festival par excellence. This event has international recognition and stands out among other important festivals in Latin America.

Beginning in mid-January the city is decorated for carnival along with preview dance events, parades and performance troupes. When February arrives, which is the month of the carnival, the city stops everything in order to receive its visitors with the biggest party of the year, where dancing and popular folklore are an excuse to experience this magnificent city.

It begins with ‘The battle of the flowers’ which is a wonderful parade led by the queen of the carnival and preceded by large floats of flowers, typical music of the region and different typical characters. After the opening, there are more parades, music and parties on each block of Barranquilla, because ‘whoever experiences carnival is the one who enjoys it’. The closing consists of the burial of ‘Joselito Carnaval’, a symbolic funeral to dismiss so many days of celebration.

When: From February 10 to 13 2018.

Travel tip: Read up on the official Carnival program and, if you wish, you can book a tour package for the Carnival of Barranquilla that tickets to the parades, accommodation and transportation. Check here prices and availability.

The colorful Carnival of Barranquilla, internationally recognized / Photo by: Ashley Bayes

Festivals in March

– Ibero-American Theater Festival – Bogotá. The Iberoamericano Festival at Bogota Theatre has become one of the most important events in Latin American, bringing together independent theater companies from all over the world. For a week, in the Colombian capital you can see about 20 different exhibitions from galleries and street art, from various genres such as clown, dance, drama etc.

When: From March 16 to April 1, 2018.

Travel tip: Find the official festival programhere and make the most of your days with the best tours and activities in Bogotá to get to know the city.

Nearly 20 plays can be seen at the Ibero-American Theater Festival / Photo by: Carlos Martínez, Ministerio de Cultura

– Holy Week – Popayán. Colombia is the third most religious country in Latin America, so Holy Week, also known Easter, is a very important holiday for the population in general. If you like to partake in religious tourism and want to discover more about Catholic traditions, in the city of Popayán you will find a complete experience from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday: events, processions and allegories centered around reflection and the Christian faith.

When: From March 25 to 31, 2018.

Travel tip: Consult all the details of Holy Week in Popayán on the official web page.

Festivals in April

– Filbo – Bogotá. Bogotá, declared one of the world’s book capitals by UNESCO in 2007, holds its traditional International Book Fair in April, one of the most important literary events in Colombia. There are records of visits from 550 thousand people in just one edition!

During the tour of the 14 pavilions, you can find not only premieres of literary works premieres, concerts, talks by international lecturers but also the pleasure of uniting literature with activities such as cuisine and art through a variety of demonstrations. It is a good opportunity to get that book you always wanted, but also to learn more about Latin American culture.

When: From April 17 to 2 May 2, 2018.

Travel tip: Visit FILBO’s official web page to find out the details.

– Festival of the Vallenata Legend – Valledupar. Half a century recreating the myths and customs of a land through vallenato music, they uphold the Festival of the Vallenata Legend as one of the most important traditional musical events in Colombia. For 4 days the city of Valledupar is transformed into a single sound emitted by the vallenato accordion.

The event not only exalts the music, it also gives space to storytelling, dance and oral narration, making the visitor completely immersed in the vallenato culture. There are different scenarios, depending on the level of expertise of the participants and age. At the end of the event, the “King of Kings” is crowned, which is the highest award that can be received at the event.

Each year the festival has a different honoree, who is an ambassador of vallenato music, and this year it will be the renowned singer Carlos Vives Don’t miss out!

When: From April 26 to 30, 2018.

Travel tip: Find all the information about this event on the official festival web page.

Coronation of the king of kings 2017: Álvaro López / Photo by: Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata

Festivals in May

– Mono Núñez Festival – Valle del Cauca. In order to exalt and preserve Colombian Andean music, several festivals have been created throughout the country; one of the most important is the Mono Núñez Festival. It takes place in a small town called Geneva in the Valle del Cauca, and for three days all the inns, family homes and hotels are full of musicians from different regions and countries, singing to the frets of guitars, bandolas and tiples, from visitors who participate in the festival.

When: From May 31 to June 3, 2018.

Travel tip: The group in charge of organizing the event is Funmúsica, Funmúsica, find their official web page here.

Festivals in June

– Festitango – Medellín. Tango is not only found in Río de la Plata. Medellín has an important tango tradition, even to the point that Carlos Gardel often came to make presentations in the city until the day of his death.

As one of the tango capitals, Medellín holds a traveling tango festival, where you can find not only great dancers but also wonderful interpretations of this rhythm from Rio de la Plata. During three days the festival moves throughout the city, drawing in both children and adults.

Travel tip: consult the festival’s Facebook page for the exact dates and if you are travelling to the city outside of the month of June, reserve a Tango tour in Medellín online.

Festivals in July

– Colombia Moda – Medellín. One of the most important industries in Medellín is that of textile, which makes it Colombia’s fashion center. Because of this, every year the most outstanding Latin American referents of this industry are found at fashion week: Colombiamoda.

About 13 thousand buyers and more than 500 Latin American brands meet at this event to make connections and mark trends. During the event there are free conferences and workshops to catch up on fashion and the industry.

When: From July 24 to 26, 2018.

Travel tip: Learn all the details in the official Colombiamoda web page and enjoy your vacations in the city of eternal spring with the tours and activities in Medellín.

Colombia Moda is the opportunity to know the trends in the region and the world / Photo by: Martín Mortality

Festivals in August

– Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival) – Medellín. This festival is known for its traditional silleteros parade, in which not only the qualities of the man paisa but also its origins are glorified. The silleteros are agricultural farmers who head out to the festivities with a wooden frame on their backs, decorated with an immense variety of flowers arranged in such a way that each “silleta” tells a different story. The decorating of the silletas is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, and characterizes the path to Santa Elena.

During the fair there is also the Festival de la Trova, different events in pubs and family run inns, concerts and a large exhibition of Paisa culture in the North Park.

When: From August 3 to 12.

Travel tip: Visit Medellín City Hall’s official web page o learn more about the tradition and reserve a Silleteros and Flowers tour here.

Festivals in September

Colombia to the rhythm of Jazz. In September, different cities and towns in Colombia such as Barranquilla, Manizales and Mompox devote three days to jazz. The largest jazz festival is organized in Bogotá, so if you are thinking of traveling to Colombia this month, we recommend that you stop in the Colombian capital to enjoy the event.

Jazz in the Park – Bogotá. This festival has had, for 20 years, artists on par with Richard Bona or Chucho Valdes. The event takes place at the Country Club, to the north of the city. While you’re at the concert you can eat something, read or just lie on the grass to listen to the invited performers.

When: September 22 and 23, 2018.

Travel tip: If you are interested, you should be aware of this year’s program! So visit Jazz in the Park’s official web page.

Enjoy Jazz at the Park in September at the Country Club of Bogotá / Photo by: Carlos Lema- Idartes

Festivals in October

– “Coffe time” in Quindío! In October International Coffee Day is celebrated. To celebrate it, we invite you to visit Armenia, one of the three cities in the Coffee Region, which is more than a century old. The city festivities take place in mid-October; its theme is in constant homage to the coffee culture, there are parades of the traditional yipao, which are decorated cars with elements of the coffee culture and you can also pick up national souvenirs and international crafts. If you are travelling to Colombia during this month, we recommend that you participate in the festivities.

Travel tip: Take home the essence of the Coffee Axis with the best coffee tours in Armenia, Manizales and Pereira.

Festivals in November

– “Patron Saint Festivals” – San Andrés. The entire group of islands celebrate the festivities of its patron San Andrés. They do it in two very special ways: by celebrating the International Reign of Coco, and the best rhythm of Caribbean music accompanied by the typical dishes of this region.

The event takes place during the last week of November, so we invite you to schedule starting now, in order to enjoy the party and organize your itinerary that includes visits to the other islands, take a walk underwater, party on a cruise, and -Why not? – Do a diving mini-course so you do not miss the beautiful coral reef that surrounds this place.

Reserve tours for a dream island vacation in San Andrés

Celebrate the San Andrés festivities to the rhythm of Caribbean music / Photo by: Sofía Romero

Festivals in December

– The month of the little candles. On December 7 and 8, all of Colombia celebrates Velitas “Little Candles” Day, a Catholic tradition where candles are lit to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The celebration varies in every region. In Quimbaya, a town in the Coffee Triangle, they close off their streets to put out handmade lanterns, and there is music and liquor in all the homes; other cities such as Cali and Medellín light their large lanterns in parks and on the banks of rivers. On the Caribbean coast dawns processions usually take place at dawn, after a long night of celebration. With this holiday, Christmas begins.

Travel tip: Be part of this beautiful tradition with the Christmas Lights Tour in Medellín.

– La Feria de Caña – Cali. Cali is known as the world’s salsa capital, so its grand festival, which always begins after Christmas Eve, is permeated by this rhythm. The Cali Fair or Feria de la Caña is made up of cultural and gastronomic events for everyone: from presentations by national and international artists, to the creation of spaces for music lovers and collectors.

Every year, a branch of heaven opens its doors to the best exponents of salsa, to amateurs and, of course, to all visitors who come wanting to learn more about this Caribbean rhythm.

At the commencement of the festival there is a grand parade that evokes the best of salsa, and the salsódromo is also officially opened.

When: From December 25 to 30, 2018.

Travel tip: As an alternating event the city begins its bullfighting season. Visit the Fair’s official web page to get the details and book your tours and activities in Cali online.

If you spend the end of the year in Cali, do not miss its famous Feria de la Caña / Photo by: Claudio Bustos

After signing a Peace Treaty, Colombia reated new routes to promote tourism and open itself to the world as a country with immense biodiversity and multiculturalism. “It’s time to experience Colombia. You will love it!”.

By: Laura García Betancur, Laura García Betancur, Colombian audiovisual journalist and communicator

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Start Your Year With a Colombia Carnival Marathon Thu, 28 Dec 2017 12:00:46 +0000 Colombia never ceases to amaze – this long unexplored enchanting country is the home to an array of wonderful places, welcoming locals, and an unrivalled Carnival schedule. Here we take you around the country, offering you a rundown of the country’s biggest and most spectacular summer festivities. Grab you costume, get in the party mood, and [...]

The post Start Your Year With a Colombia Carnival Marathon appeared first on Daytours4u.

Colombia never ceases to amaze – this long unexplored enchanting country is the home to an array of wonderful places, welcoming locals, and an unrivalled Carnival schedule. Here we take you around the country, offering you a rundown of the country’s biggest and most spectacular summer festivities. Grab you costume, get in the party mood, and join the fun.

Carnaval de Negros y Blancos (Black and White Carnival)

Parade of the Black and White Carvanal in Pasto, southern Colombia / Source

In Colombia’s south, the most anticipated event on the cultural calendar is undoubtedly the Carnaval de Negros y Blancos (Black and White Carnival). Born from native Andean and Hispanic traditions, this great celebration in San Juan de Pasto runs from 2nd – 7th January every year and it became recognised by UNESCO as an “Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2009.

The party itself is utter madness – an explosion of colour and sound. Its initial opening is on 7th December, the traditional Noite das Velas (Night of the Candles), whereupon several pre-Carnival activities light up the city. The main Carnival begins on 2nd January with the Desfile das Colônias (Parade of Colonies), an event that features the residents of Pasto and the surrounding areas parading through the streets in a show of their traditions, legends, myths, and music.

The following day is the Día del Carnavalito (Children’s Carnival). Having originated as a game of children imitating their elders by recreating the costumes and fantasies from Blancos Day, this part of the festival now has a very strong identity of its own and it has grown into a much loved part of the Carnival. Thereafter, the partying and drinking continues into the final days of the festival which are the most significant: Día de los Negros (Day of the Blacks) and Día de los Blancos (Day of the Whites), on the 5th and 6th of January respectively.

The first celebration commemorates the date when African slaves were free to wander the city and exert their flamboyant nature, with revelers doning black cosmetics, painting themselves in black, and wearing elaborate masks. On the next day, people of all ethnicities cover themselves in white talcum as a symbol of equality and integration, and together everybody dances and gyrates to the sounds of traditional Colombian music.  A must visit festival for anybody traveling through Colombia.

Carnaval de Cali Viejo (Old Cali Carnival)

Joining Carnaval de Cali Viejo is a great way to better understand the charm of the city / Source

Santiago de Cali – or simply Cali as it is known – displays spectacular carnival parades year after year. Elaborate floats, salsa dancers, children in costume, and beautiful queens together make these celebrations a truly unique event of colour and music.

This event always begins on 28th December with a parade that revives classic characters, highlights symbols of Cali, and honours other regions and cultures that have left their mark on the city. Joining Carnaval de Cali Viejo is a great way to better understand the grandeur and charm of the city. Our tip: the event starts at 2pm, but be sure to arrive early and grab a good spot to get close to the action.

Book your tours and activities in Cali

Carnaval del Perdón y la Reconciliación (Carnival of Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

Carnaval del Perdón y Reconciliación was declared a Cultural Patrimony of the Nation / Source

On 11th and 12th February, Carnaval del Perdón y la Reconciliación in Valle del Sibundoy (Putumayo) swings into action. Declared a National Cultural Heritage in 2012, the carnival is a sacred event, where the indigenous groups Inga and Kamentsá celebrate the end of the year, and harmony between mankind and agriculture. Both tribes have their own individual parties, but during Carnival they together embrace forgiveness and reconciliation with their loved ones through ‘Clestrinye,’ meaning feast, dance, and joy.

On 11th February, the Kamentsá host a beautiful show wearing their traditional clothing in the presence of Matachín, a masked man who invites all to celebrate with him. The Ingas take centre stage on the following day as everyone makes their way to the church and the main square in costume to dance and sing. Throughout the festival, varying groups from different backgrounds and regions perform for spectators. You can purchase various souvenirs such as native wind instruments, beads, fabrics, masks, necklaces, and other artisanal items. This event is a fusion of the sacred and the profane; a must-do for any local culture enthusiasts.

Carnaval de Riosucio Caldas ou del Diablo (Riosucio Carnival of the Devil)

Carnaval de Riosucio Caldas attracts tourists from around the world / Source

Like many of the others, Carnaval de Riosucio Caldas ou del Diablo is an Intangible Heritage of Colombia and it most certainly lives up to its title, attracting tourists and party animals from around the world.

In the past, Riosucio was comprised of two rival communities (Nuestra Señora de la Montaña and Quiebralom Mining Real) located on either side of the city. Tired of incessant competition, the priests (José Ramón Bueno and Jose Bonifacio Bonafont) told the people that they must make peace, and if they did not fulfill this order, the devil would punish them personally. In celebration of this union, these joyous and jubilant festivities were created, and in 1915, the devil figure was adopted as the image of the festival and it remains central to the celebrations today.

The main events include: Alegre despertar del Carnaval (Joyful Awakening of Carnival), an opening procession that signals the start of the carnival; Gran Entrada de Colonias (Grand Entry of the Colonies); Grandioso Desfile de Cuadrillas de Mayores (Great Parade of Old Crews), and the festivities come to a close with Entierro del Calabazo, Quema de su Majestad el Diablo, Fin de la Fiesta (Calabazo Burial, Burning Her Majesty the Devil, the End of the Celebration), where a paper-mâché devil purpose built for the carnival is burnt, signifying the official end of the festival.

Carnaval de Barranquilla (Barranquilla Carnival)

Carnaval de Barranquilla is a colourful affair / Source

Barranquilla Carnival – simply the most important folkloric and cultural festival in Colombia. Each year, more than one million people including tourists from around the world descend upon Barranquilla for this wondrous occasion. The event has Spanish origins and it has today retained the spirit of renewal and change that was prevalent in the European celebration of the time. In Barranquilla, the festival began as a holiday for African slaves during the colonial era, and they would mark the occasion by taking to the streets with their handmade instruments and decorative costumes, and perform dances and songs from their homelands.

This carnival displays an array of cultural and folkloric elements from the Colombian Caribbean coast, alongside traditional music and local dance. Over the years, Barranquilla Carnival has become renowned for its elaborate floats, ostentatious costumes, and fancy masks, the most popular of which are the bull, the tiger, and the bear. At once satirical and contemporary – always referencing current events – the costumes are an emblem of the collective joy and jubilation.

From 15th January through 9th February, Barranquilla will be a party city in carnival mode, with a range of events and activities. Highlights include the Lectura del Bando (Reading) on 16th January, Fiestas de Comparsas ( Festival of Carnival Troupes) on 23rd January, and Fiesta de Danzas y Cumbias (Festival of Dances and Cumbia) on 24th January. The major celebrations start on 6th February with the Batalla de Flores (Battle of Flowers) and the streets will be packed for four days of vibrant, extravagant, and seemingly endless partying.

Book online the Barranquilla Carnival Parades Package

mAre you going to a Colombia Carnival? We can enrich your South American experiences.

Book your Colombian tours and activities here

By Thalles Santos | Translated by Simon Hall

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8 Ways to Celebrate Christmas & New Years in Colombia Like a Local Wed, 06 Dec 2017 12:00:19 +0000 Spending Christmas in Colombia is unlike anything you’re likely to experience anywhere else in the world. From the food to some interesting and downright wacky traditions, here’s how to make sure you have a blast and spend the festive seasons like a local. 1. Noche de las Velitas Día de las Velitas, one of the [...]

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Spending Christmas in Colombia is unlike anything you’re likely to experience anywhere else in the world. From the food to some interesting and downright wacky traditions, here’s how to make sure you have a blast and spend the festive seasons like a local.

1. Noche de las Velitas

Día de las VelitasDía de las Velitas, one of the most traditional holidays in Colombia, officially marks the beginning of Christmas!

Christmas officially begins in Colombia on the 7th of December with the Noche de las Velitas or the Little Candle Day. Children and families head out into their neighbourhoods and light candles on the footpaths, roads and windowsills of the area. The tradition is said to have begun in the 1800s as a way of celebrating the Virgin Mary.

2. Join in a family novena

navidadFor a full-on family experience in Colombia, gather around the Christmas tree and sing the novena together

There is a real emphasis on family during Christmas in Colombia and that means there are loads of opportunities to get up close and personal with the locals during this time. Perhaps you can even get invited to a novena, which is a catholic tradition when family get together to sing religious songs and prayers. Novena, meaning nine, signifies the nine days of prayer in the lead up to Christmas. Often, people will sit around the Christmas tree and sing about baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Here are the lyrics to one popular song, so you can join in if you find yourself invited to a novena yourself.

Ven, ven ven
Ven a nuestras almas
Jesus ven ven,
ven ven ven a nuestras almas
Jesus ven a nuestras almas
Nooo tardes tanto no tardes tanto
Jesus ven ven, ven, ven.

3. Eat your weight in natilla and buñuelos

bunuelos-colombiaA Christmas feast in Colombia is never complete without the delicious navilla & buñuelos combo! / Source

As much as Christmas in Colombia is about family, it’s also about sharing, cooking and eating food. Some of the most popular Colombian foods to eat around Christmas time are natilla and buñuelos.
Natilla is a wobbly custard-like dessert made from milk, blocks of brown sugar called panela and cinnamon. But natilla isn’t the same without an important accompaniment: buñuelos. These doughy fried cheese balls are irresistible and will surely have you putting on the Christmas pounds in no time. It’s totally worth it, though!

4. Visit Los Alumbrados in Medellín

MedellinWatching the lights placed along the river and La Playa Avenue in Medellín is a must-do! / Source

Spending Christmas in Colombia just wouldn’t be the same without taking in the millions of Christmas lights that have been carefully placed along the river and La Playa Avenue in Medellín. Each year the public-utility company Empresas Publicas de Medellín (EPM) sponsors the light show, but that’s not the only thing worth marvelling over. There’s also a full street dedicated to food to
indulge in, including arepas, chorizo and other fried snacks.

5. Run around the house in your yellow underwear

"Luck" panties | colombia4uMake sure to wear your yellow knickers on NYE for luck in the new year! | AFP PHOTO

Unlike other parts of the world, Christmas in Colombia is basically a month-long holiday that goes from the beginning of December, sometimes even earlier, until well into January, so New Year actually becomes part of the festivities. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, Colombians take part is some interesting traditions, including wearing new yellow underwear and running around the house. Pack some of your favourite yellow knickers and get ready, because apparently it helps to ensure the next year is full of luck, success and happiness.

6. Run around the street with a suitcase

If running around the house in your new yellow underwear sounds interesting, well, it doesn’t stop there. Another tradition includes running around the block with a suitcase, which is said to bring lots of travel opportunities the coming year.

7. Eat 12 grapes

12 Grapes before midnight | colombia4uDon’t forget to eat exactly 12 grapes after midnight for prosperity in the upcoming year!

Another way to bring luck for the New Year is to eat 12 grapes. Some say the grapes signify each of the 12 months to come while others say they represent each of the 12 clock chimes at midnight. Either way, if it means our New Years are going to be lucky, prosperous and happy, it’s worth a shot.

8. El Año Viejo

Año Viejo doll burning in Colombia | colombia4uIt’s not as scary as it looks like! Colombians burn the past year’s bad energy for new good vibes

After Christmas in Colombia is done and dusted, the locals will often make a life-sized doll to represent the old year called el Año Viejo. Sometimes it can represent a particular person or event, or simply be a symbolic representation of the year that has passed. Just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, families set their dolls on fire to get rid of the old or bad energy from the year passed and prepare for the good in the year to come.

By Sarah Duncan, author of the Colombian-specialized blog Sarepa

Have you spent Christmas in Colombia? Which traditions did you take part in? Let us know all about it in the comments section below.

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A Celebration of Cartagena’s Independence Wed, 09 Nov 2016 14:07:57 +0000 Parades, concerts, and beauty Queens - discover how Cartagena celebrates it’s Independence Day and find out how you can make the most of the festivities.

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Parades, concerts, and a whole lot of revelry is what can be expected in Cartagena from the 9th through the 13th November as they celebrate their Day of Independence. On 11th November 1811, after 10 years of struggle, Cartagena de Indias became only the second South American city to become independent from Spain, marking a milestone in the region. It was until that point the most important port on the continent through which traversed the riches of the Spanish Crown.

Today, though, Cartageneros and tourists will come together to enjoy five days of non-stop festivities. It is the hope of the Mayor of Cartagena and the Governor of Bolívar that these holidays will be declared an Intangible Heritage of the Nation, turning it into one of the most significant events on the Colombian calendar.

cartagena-2Local and tourists will enjoy 5 days of revelry in the Walled City / Photo by Daytours4u


Wednesday, 9th November. Desfile de Fantasía (Fantasy Parade). Taking place in Plaza de la Aduana, this spectacle honours Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez; the father of magical realism.

Thursday, 10th November: Desfile en Vestido de Baño (Swimwear Parade). Held in Las Tenazas, this procession features the Queen of Independence contestants and closes with a concert in which both local and national artists will perform.

Friday, 11th November: Batalla de Flores (Battle of Flowers) is a show that represents the historical and cultural value of Cartagena. 10 public spaces from around the various neighbourhoods of the city have been selected to host “El Remate de la Independencia”: a celebration of popular Colombian music.

Saturday, 12th November: Parade of the candidates for the Queen of Independence by the Cuerpos de Agua: a collection of lagoons, canyons, and marshes of the region. Parades in these places are meant to reflect the environmental commitment and social responsibility of the candidates. The day will culminate with the Desfile de la Diversidad Sexual (Parade of Sexual Diversity)

Sunday, 13th November: Cabildo de Getsemaní, a traditional parade of disguises that alludes to the independence from the neighbourhood where the liberation of Cartagena was born. The parade will finish in the Chiquinquirá softball stadium with the coronation of the new Queen of Independence.


If you are visiting Cartagena during these holidays, be prepared to walk down streets full of people in constant celebration and be sure to dodge the food stalls and the street sellers offering souvenirs.

Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and light clothing. The weather in Cartagena is humid, so the heat can sometimes be really intense.

Stay close to the tourist areas. Public transport can be complicated and taxis do not have a meter so the calculation of the rates is not regulated. In the event that you need to take a taxi, call one who works with a well-known company or use such apps as Tappsi, Easy Taxi, or Uber.

The area of Getsemaní next to the Walled City is a great place for some walking, but keep your wits about you and take basic security precautions.

We also recommend that you watch out for any propositions that may seem strange to you – there are isolated people who use the party atmosphere as an opportunity to pickpocket. For more information about travelling safely in Colombia, check out this article.

If you want to make the most of the Independence party, take advantage of the Colombia4u discounts on tours and other activities in the city.

By: Daytours4u Content Team

The post A Celebration of Cartagena’s Independence appeared first on Daytours4u.

Essential Guide to Barranquilla Carnival Wed, 03 Feb 2016 08:00:56 +0000 Want to experience one of the great masterpieces of humanity? Come to Colombia and join the Barranquilla Carnival celebrations.

The post Essential Guide to Barranquilla Carnival appeared first on Daytours4u.

All the preparations have been finalised and the most anticipated cultural event of the year in Colombia – Barranquilla Carnival – is set to kick off. It is a party out of the ordinary: full of colour, joy, and fantasy in which the indigenous Caribbean cultural traditions and charisma of Barranquilla are showcased through an extravagant array of parades, competitions, and concerts. Together they generate a unique festive atmosphere, where people take to the streets and party to the sound of flutes, drums, and accordions.

Barranquilla CarnivalBarranquilla Carnival is a unique work of humanity / Image Source

If your plan is to travel to Colombia during carnival season, do not miss this simply extraordinary event, recognised by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” for its deep ethnic roots, technical and aesthetic qualities, and also the cultural expressions of the various communities living in the Colombian Caribbean and the Lower Magdalena River region. It is an area full of mysteries, legends, myth, and dances that collectively define Colombia.

The Barranquilla Carnival motto tells us that “Quien lo vive es quien lo goza”, translated into English as “Who lives it, is who enjoys it”. This essential guide offers insider tips and advice so that you can learn which activities are not to be missed during your visit to the birthplace of magical realism.

Barranquilla CarnivalThe Carnival is always awash with colour / Image Source

Where and When is Barranquilla Carnival Celebrated

Barranquilla Carnival is celebrated every year in the city of Barranquilla, the largest port city in Colombia located at the mouth of the Magdalena River. This charming coastal paradise is accessible by air – through national airline carriers – and by buses that operate from all the country’s major cities. A flight takes anything between 45 and 90 minutes depending on your point of departure, while a bus journey can be anything from 13 to 22 hours long from Medellin and Cali respectively.

The Carnival officially runs for 4 days, and every year these days correspond to the Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday that precede Ash Wednesday (the day that marks the beginning of Lent and fasting). During this long weekend, spectators have the opportunity to enjoy a whole host of activities that include parades, dances, festivals, competitions, plays, and concerts. These events pay homage to the diversity and creativity of the people who call this region home.

The festivities begin early on Saturday and end the day before Ash Wednesday. People gather on the main streets of the city and indulge in some chaotic revelry. The main events and cultural activities are listed below.

Barranquilla CarnivalThe streets are filled with love during Barranquilla Carnival / Image Source

The Main Activities at Barranquilla Carnival

The Battle of Flowers (Carnival Saturday – begins at 12pm). The Battle of Flowers is the inaugural parade of Barranquilla Carnival and it is perhaps the most well-known due to the attention it garners from the media, and understandably so. Throughout the procession, which is led by the Carnival Queen, viewers are treated to a show of spectacular floats and flamboyant dancing from popular artistic groups in the region – a true display of fantasy and beauty that should not be missed. For tickets, click here.

Great Traditional Parade (Carnival Sunday – begins at 1pm). Every year, this dazzling parade take place along Via 40 (Street 40) and it is undoubtedly one of the most representative expressions of Barranquilla Carnival. Over 160 troupes come and entertain the crowds with an astonishing blend of Spanish and African styled music, as they compete against each in various categories to be crowned champions.

Burial of Joselito Carnaval (Carnival Monday – begins 4pm). A fun and delightful way to close the ceremonies is the mock funeral of crowd favourite carnival character Joselito Carnaval. Locals dress up as this party-loving character, who dies each year and rises the following year once again to enjoy the festivities.

Night Parties. After the parades, concerts, and competitions during the day, the celebrations are taken to different neighbourhoods across the city. The most popular parties feature renowned DJ’s who select the finest classic and tropical dance hits that keep both Colombians and tourists alike jiving all night long.

Dances and Fiestas. One of the most exclusive parties at Barranquilla Carnival is the Grand Fiesta at the Dann Carlton Hotel. It is arguably the most famous event at this time of year due to the numerous musicians and artists of international stardom that have performed there.

. . .

Now that you have an idea of what Barranquilla Carnival is all about, it just needs you to join in this epic celebration and enjoy 4 days in one of the liveliest and most delirious parties in Colombia. Go to our website and buy the Colombia4u Carnival Parades Package which includes tickets and transfers to all the main events.

If you would like to learn more about the cultural heritage of Barranquilla Carnival, follow the link and read our pocket guide.

By David Luna / Translated by Simon Hall

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Insider Tips for Barranquilla Carnival Mon, 18 Jan 2016 08:00:49 +0000 Daytours4u presents an inside guide to Barranquilla Carnival, Colombia's biggest and most extravagant folklore celebration.

The post Insider Tips for Barranquilla Carnival appeared first on Daytours4u.

Rivaling Rio’s famous extravaganza in breadth and numbers is Colombia’s Barranquilla Carnival. It’s a four-day Latino dance party in Colombia’s fourth-largest city, packed with seductive rhythms, gyrating bodies, and all of life’s colours. Whether you enjoy it with the family, with a friend, or alone through unguarded libations, there are some things you can expect and other things that would stifle precious serendipity. Just enjoy the party, and read this before you go.

Barranquilla Carnival is a spectacularly vibrant celebration / Image Source

• It’s Colombia’s favourite party, which means you should book accommodation well in advance – rooms get scarce and can increase sixfold in price.

• Book a room close to Carrera 40 – that is where all the action is. You can dance your way home, stopping at restaurants, kiosks, corners, and house parties along the way; and you’ll be closer to the nightclub after-parties (check online and ask around).

• Taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced: rides go from ten to fifteen thousand pesos (US$4.30 to $6.50), all over town.

• Get to the parade early. This can’t be stressed enough. The boxes are often overbooked and even if you have legitimate tickets, it is possible you will not be able to enter if you arrive late.

• It is best to buy your tickets in advance. Tickets on offer from sellers on the street may be fake.

• Buy a hand-woven sombrero or wear your own hat with sunglasses. And don’t forget the sunscreen, or you will get torched.

• There are also “public” areas where you can rent individual plastic chairs for a small fee or stand for free, but those areas are fewer and farther between.

Your ticket is valid for the entire day: you can take a walk away from your seat if you want to stock up on beers and snacks, go to the washroom, or head down the road for lunch. There are walking vendors that sell cold food and drinks, and you can also bring your own treats.

• You can arrive at 11am but the parades actually start around 1:30pm, with the first dancers busting moves like angels. The parades’ final dancers come through around dusk.

• One last tip, Carnivalers: dress casually and lightly (everyone else does). Carnival is hot, hot, hot!

In addition to the parades, there are other festivals around town during the four days, like the Festival de Comedias and the Festival de Orquestas, a mix of contemporary and traditional theater and music that typifies the Carnival spirit. Check the official Carnival website for more information.

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If you are visiting South America for carnival this summer, we can help you enrich your travel experiences. Check out our tours and activities in Rio de Janeiro, São PauloChile, Colombia, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, and across Argentina.

By Brannon Gerling

The post Insider Tips for Barranquilla Carnival appeared first on Daytours4u.