The “Carnaval de Barranquilla”is the second largest carnival celebration in the world, next to Rio de Janeiro. I planned my trip around these four days of festivities; the most important folklore festivities in Colombia!!! So you have to be there! I can be very short on this destination, go in the carnival period, but skip it when you don’t need to be here.
Tip: The festivities starts on the Saturday before the Ash Wednesday so check the dates beforehand (each year it’s different)!
For me it was still a last minute decision to go to Barranquilla, doubting of I wanted to go by myself, is it safe enough? I was lucky that I run into another traveler that wanted to go too, so we teamed up in Barranquilla. We could get last minute tickets at the gate. Looking back; I could have gone by myself as well, haven’t felt unsafe for a minute.
The biggest festivities are on the Sunday and Monday (La Gran Parada & Orchestra Festival). We went on the Monday, the third day; we saw the Gran parada de Comparsas which was long, impressive and beautiful. The parade is across the river the Magdalena at Via 40.
Never had seen something like this before!! The parade started around 3:00PM and we left at around 5:30PM. Try to book the more expensive tickets that are in the shade, all those hours in the full sun would have been exhausting and overheated. The parade was so colorful with the most amazing costumes and dancers with good music. It has a great atmosphere. Everybody is happy and enthusiastic; the whole family is coming along to view the parade. I was so happy to see a real cultural happening among locals.
Tip: Wear colorful clothing to the parade; you can buy some accessories in the streets before you enter the Via 40.
After we left I expected a big party in the streets, with dancing and drunk people, but it was nothing like that at all! Quiet street, shops closed, some restaurants and bars were open. The streets were extinct. Were all the people still at the parade? For me that was a bit of a turndown. We ate something and then prepared for my final stop in Colombia Cartagena.
Transport and Accommodation
The inbound to Barranquilla was with the local bus (25.000 COP) all the way from Palomino. The bus runs straight from Riohacha all the way to Cartagena with a stop next to the main road near Barranquilla, not entering the stations of Santa Marta and Barranquilla; fast and perfect! After that, a small taxi ride to the hotel in the city center.
The taxi driver drove me to the bus station to Barranquilla….. no idea where I would end up, but it was the Berlinastur office. For 25.000 COP a minibus drove me direct from Barranquilla to Cartagena in 1,5 hours. It was a comfortable and safe ride with mainly tourist on board.
I booked the hotel bh Barranquilla two days prior to my visit during carnival and still affordable (55$ per night). The hotel is located in the El Prado neighborhood and looked perfect, loved the style and colors.
The “Carnaval de Barranquilla” slogan in English and Spanish is:
Those who live it are those who enjoy it! Quien lo vive, es quien lo goza.