Barranquilla's Carnival - Top Things to Do
March 7, 2019
by Paola Paternina Chicre
Barranquilla has been known as the “Golden Gate of Colombia” for decades and noted for the world’s second-largest carnival proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003. For those interested in visiting the Carnival celebrated in Barranquilla, Colombia, with a two-three day trip, this is a quick guide to help you enjoy your trip to the fullest.
The Friday before Carnival’s Saturday is not officially Carnival. However, since it’s Friday, every neighborhood is filled with joy and you will find street parties in every corner. My recommendation is to attend the traditional concert offered every year before the carnival starts, the Official Carnival Concert. The sooner you buy the tickets the cheaper they will be. Usually, if you’re in a group, the best thing to do is to buy a balcony; otherwise, you should buy a VIP ticket on the “grass” location where you will be close to the music and dance. The best advice: go in a group so you can enjoy more. Also, wear comfortable clothes because it will make the experience of a concert (rows, standing, sitting on the grass, dancing) better as you’ll be in warm weather.
Official Carnival Concert (Concierto Oficial de Carnaval)
Place: Estadio Romelio Martínez
2019 lineup: Marc Anthony and Silvestre Dangond. Other artists: Checo Acosta, Tropical Minds, and Peter Manjarres.
Walk Inaugural Parade
Saturday is officially Carnival’s first day and it begins with the best parade, the Battle of Flowers, that is filled with dance groups, floats, show business people, costumes, etc. For the parade you have two options:
Be ready to be at 11:30 am in the balcony you previously bought and don’t forget to bring food. The parade begins at 12:00 pm and the best plan is to wait for the parade, drink alcohol, dance, be with friends, eat, and enjoy the show, the dancing groups, the colors, and the music.
I think this is the best option if you want to have a full carnival experience. You can participate in a “comparsa” or dancing group, paying the ticket to walk down in the parade. The price usually includes the credentials to participate in the parade, kits with group’s identifiers, water, and alcohol. For some dancing groups you have to wear the same costume and for others like “Disfrázate como Quieras”, you can dress up as you wish. You don’t need to practice any choreography, you only need to sign up and take all your energy to walk down, dance, make a joyful noise with your group and the spectators, and get drunk for approximately three and a half hours or until your body holds out. If you have always wonder what it feels like to parading in a carnival, this is your option.
After the parade, you must save some energy for the night. The options depend on what you want to do next. Surely, you met new people while parading that invited you to a plan; otherwise, you can go to the concert that day, which is the Carnival Historical Metro Concert, whose information you’ll find below. If you don’t feel like going to a concert, there will be many street parties and a historic and great place to go is La Troja. In this place there will be many people after the parade that will continue dancing salsa, enjoying the night and drinking.
Battle of Flowers (Batalla de las Flores)
Location: Via 40
Carnival Historical Metro concert (Metroconcierto Histórico de Carnaval)
Location: Club Campestre
2019 lineup: Daddy Yankee and Mana. Other artists: Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuelle, Sergio Vargas.
Party at Alternative Verbena
Sunday is Carnival’s second day and its parade is called “Great Parade of Tradition“, which is full of dancing groups that spread out the tradition celebrated since its creation in the nineteenth century. However, after a hectic Saturday, I would advise you to rest a little, have some breakfast or eat in one of the typical places of Barranquilla and save energy for the next night party, the “Berbetronika“.
This party enjoyed by foreigners is an alternative space within the Carnival that seeks to combine the experience and tradition of the old street verbena with vibrant sounds of electronic music. The guests will live a complete experience beyond the concert, and in other editions, groups like Bomba Estereo have performed.
Great Parade of Tradition (Gran Parada de Tradición)
Location: Via 40
Location: Hotel el Prado
Where to buy tickets
You can buy tickets for Friday’s concert and carnival’s parades online through the tuboleta website or at any of the authorized outlets found throughout the country. You can search for authorized outlets on the website. For Saturday’s concert, you can buy tickets easily at the ticketshop website and Berbetronika’s tickets are available at the colboletos website.
Where to eat Colombian Coastal Food
What to visit:
- La Cueva, a restaurant that, for more than 60 years, was the meeting place for philosophers and intellectuals. It was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s favorite place in Barranquilla.
- Malecón León Caridi of the Avenida del Río, a tourist pier designed as a public, colorful and recreational place.
- The Romantic Museum, a historic museum that displays history and antiques of the 18th-century former villa as well as the history of King Momo and Carnival Queens and artists.
- The Caribbean Museum, the regional and interactive museum that presents the cultural manifestations and the historical memory of its inhabitants.
Additional tip: If you have a couple of days, I would recommend you spend them in the old colonial town of Cartagena, an hour south, and/or in Santa Marta, in the north of Barranquilla, renowned for the magical beaches of the Tayrona National Park.