10 Colombian Festivals You HAVE to Check Out!

There is a running joke in Colombia that the country has more holidays and festivals than it does work days. And I must say that after putting together this list and having grown up in Colombia I can say that it certainly feels that way! I’m not sure if it is because I am just really familiar with Colombian culture but I can’t think of another nation that has this many festivals and holidays. All over the country, no matter what time of year, I am sure you can find a carnival or festival just a stone’s throw away.

Colombian Festivals to add to your Bucketlist

349791244_fe5db7028e_bPhoto by Luis Pérez, All CC

Carnaval del Diablo (The Devil’s carnival) – Riosucio, Caldas

Held in early January every two years in odd years, this is one of the biggest and most popular carnivals in Colombia. It is rooted in a colonial fight between two towns over mining rights and has since turned into a sold out attraction! Unlike some of the bigger festivals in Colombia’s major cities, Riosucio is not prepared for the influx in visitors so hotels and lodging book up months in advance. Many attendees opt for bringing a tent and camping wherever they find the space to do so. The festivities are 6 days long with a children’s carnival, bullring entertainment (with no harmed bulls!), and plenty of salsa music to have you dancing the night away!

6914195561_b55e54d8c9_bPhoto by Ashley Bayles, All CC

Carnaval de Barranquilla (Barranquilla of Carnival) – Barranquilla, Atlantico

A Caribbean carnival second only to Rio de Janerio, it is held in February and is world famous. Four days of INTENSE partying, dancing, and beautiful people are what you can expect. Very little is known about exactly how or even why this carnival began, but we wont dwell on that when there is fun to be had. In 2003 The Carnival of Barranquilla was proclaimed by UNESCO on November 7, as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The festival is officially kicked off with the Lectura del Bando, which is the traditional reading of the carnival proclamation which states that everyone must enjoy themselves, dance, and party wildly. Although the carnival officially starts with this activity, in Barranquilla there is happiness and joy weeks beforehand, much like what you see in New Orleans and Mardi Gras. The Carnival starts on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday with the Battle of the Flowers, the most important event of the carnival. The Battle of the Flowers is a traditional float parade featuring some of the most colorful floats and decorations that fill the streets with rainbows. This six-hour show of floats is led by the Carnival Queen is who is then followed by folk dances, musicians, dance groups, costumed groups, marchers, disguises and fire breathers.

Carnaval del fuego (The fire carnival) – Tumaco, Nariño

Tumaco is located  on the Pacific coast of Colombia and hosts one of its most important celebrations just before Easter. The Carnival of Fire fills the city for five days as people celebrate and dance while float parades move through the streets. As a main port city in Latin America, it has a heavy afro-indigenous presence. With a parade that goes down the streets and a boat parade, you will get lost to the beat of the drums and under the tropical sun.

13888292759_9c34b813a5_zPhoto by Policía Nacional de los colombianos, All CC

Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata- Valledupar, Cesar

I grew up on Vallenato. Diomedez Diaz sang me to sleep while Carlos Vives’ “Clasicos de la Provincia” were our house cleaning music on Saturday mornings, so I am beyond amazed that I haven’t made it out to this festival yet. If you thought accordions were only for Polka music I am here to tell you that you are wrong! The Vallenato Festival is Colombia’s biggest dance party, focused on folklore, culture, rhythm, and soul. A full on celebration of Colombian proportions, this is something you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Not to mention the kids who compete will blow you away with their talent!


Festival de la Luna Verde (The Green Moon festival) – San Andrés Island, San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina

If you are a fan of everything Caribbean- food, music, rhythms, and colors- look no further than San Andres’ Green Moon Festival! San Andres is a coral island in the Caribbean Sea with heavy Caribbean and Afro influence. In 2000, it was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, named “Seaflower Biosphere Reserve”, with the purpose  to ensure that the ecosystem, which is rich in biodiversity, is well preserved and protected. The festival is a celebration of gastronomy, music, and dance. Think Key West meets the Puerto Rico and that Spring Break in college you didn’t tell your parents about.

Fiestas De San Pedro – Espinal, Tolima

If you haven’t gathered by now, Colombian festivals are very much so rooted in their department’s culture and history. Each one has a personality, much like our American states, that is seen with the celebrations that happen each year there. This one is no different! A festival dedicated to the Bambuco of the region, a dance with spirit and passion where the whole body involved. A flirtatious dance filled with innocent expression, is at the heart of the festival. Bullfighting is also a major part of the festivities for San Pedro.San Pedro is one of multi-day celebrations that make up the Bambuco Festival.

Festival Folclórico y Reinado Nacional del Bambuco – Neiva, Huila

Another celebration of dance and folklore that requires you to drink aguardiente (“fire water”, an anise flavored spirit distilled from sugar cane) as part of the traditional experience!  With horse back riding, cook outs, drinking, and dancing this is a Colombian favorite that is attracting more and more foreigners every year. If you are lucky enough to attend, you will see the traditional Sanjuanero dance, a flirtatious dance, come to life with each of its distinct parts that include a white hanker chief, a hat, and beautiful dancing!

Torneo Internacional del Joropo – Villavicencio, Meta

Another cultural festival that is centered around dance! And this isn’t just any dance. It is one that requires skill and precision for quick movement of the feet. When you watch it being performed, it is mesmerizing. In an area rich with cattle culture, horse back riding trails, dance competitions, and an overall good time are had. In the dance competitions alone you have up to 3,000 couples dancing to the music of “los llanos.” When the mountains give way to the plains that roll in when Colombian cowboys have made their home.


Feria de las Flores – Medellín, Antioquia

There is something magical about watching paved streets turn into runways for flower arrangements that reminds me of summer ants moving little pieces of grass across a sidewalk. Colombia is one of the top exporters of flowers in the world so when I say that you will be seeing some of the world’s most beautiful flower arrangements at this festival, it is not an exaggeration. Medellin dresses itself with flowers at the beginning of August each year when the fields come to the city for a celebration unlike any other. If you can go, you should because the week long celebration will leave you speechless.

La Feria de Cali – Valle del Cauca

Held in December and helping you get ready to ring in the new year is Cali’s Fair. The fair is known for its salsa marathons, horse riding parades, and a party you surely will never forget. If you want to admire the cultural aspect of bull fighting, Cali is the place to do it! The coastal city is known as the “Salsa Capital” so expect great music with an Afro-Caribbean influence and fancy footwork all over!


Here are some of the other traditional and cultural festivals in Colombia


  • Cartagena Festival Internacional de Música – Cartagena – Bolívar
  • Feria de Cali – Cali – Valle del Cauca
  • Feria de Manizales – Manizales – Caldas
  • Hay Festival – Cartagena – Bolívar
  • Campeonato de Voleibol Playa – Cartagena – Bolívar
  • Festival de La Panela – Villeta – Cundinamarca
  • Carnavales de Ocaña – Norte de Santander
  • Carnaval de Blancos y Negros – Pasto – Nariño
  • Feria Taurina de la Candelaria – Medellín – Antioquia
  • Feria Taurina – Cartagena – Bolívar
  • Festival de la Miel – Oiba – Santander
  • Fiesta de las Corralejas – Sincelejo
  • Reinado Departamental de la Panela – Villeta
  • Reinado del Arroz – Aguazul – Casanare
  • Sirenato del Mar – Tolu


  • Feria Taurina Bogotá
  • Temporada Taurina – Medellín – Antioquia
  • Festival del Corrido Llanero – Puerto Carreño – Vichada
  • Festival de la Subienda – Honda – Tolima
  • Fiesta de la Candelaria – Cartagena – Bolívar
  • Carnaval del Fuego – Tumaco – Nariño


  • Festival internacional de cine – Cartagena
  • Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro – Bogotá
  • Exposición Internacional de Orquídeas – Medellín
  • Semana Santa – Popayan
  • Festival de Música Religiosa – Popayan – Mompox – Pamplona
  • Ferias y Fiestas – Acacías – Meta
  • Festival de la Canción Llanera – Villavicencio – Meta
  • Festival del Burro – San Antero – Cordoba


  • Feria del Cebú – San Martín – Meta
  • Festival del Cangrejo – San Andrés Islas
  • Festival de Cine Eurocine – Bogotá


  • Festival de Interpretes de la Canción Mono Nuñez – Ginebra – Valle
  • Feria Ganadera – Socorro – Santader
  • Feria Internacional del Libro – Bogotá
  • Festival de la Cultura Wayuú – Guajira
  • Festival de la Cachama – Puerto Gaitan – Meta
  • Festival de la Arepa de Huevo – Luruaco – Atlántico
  • Ferias y Fiestas de Natagaima – Tolima


  • Festival del Mono Nuñez – Ginebra – Valle
  • Reinado Nacional del Cafe – Calarca – Quindio
  • Festival Folclórico del Caqueta – Florencia Caqueta
  • Festival Internacional de Tango- Medellín
  • Festival Nacional del Porro – San Pelayo – Monteria
  • Festival Folclórico – Ibague Tolima
  • Festival del Mango – San Antonio Atlántico
  • Feria Nacional Gallistica – Monteria
  • Reinado Nacional de la Ganadería – Monteria – Córdoba
  • Festival y Reinado del Divivi – Rioacha – Guajira
  • Corpus Christi – Anolaima


  • Festival de la Feijoa – Tibasosa, Boyacá
  • Fiestas del mar – Santa Marta
  • Festival del sol y del acero – Sogamoso, Boyacá
  • Feria Agropecuaria – Charalá – Santander
  • Ferias y Fiestas de la Panela – Convención – Santander
  • Feria de la Piña – Lebrija – Santander
  • Festival de la Cumbia – El Banco – Magdalena
  • Torneo Internacional del Joropo – Villavicencio
  • Opera al Parque – Bogotá
  • International Poetry Festival of Medellín


  • Desfile de Silleteros – Medellín
  • Colombiamoda – Medellín
  • Fiestas de La Cosecha – Pereira, Risaralda
  • Fiestas Folclóricas – Capitanejo – Santander
  • Fiesta del Petróleo – Barrancabermeja
  • Festival de Verano – Bogotá
  • Festival de Tiple y la Guabina – Veléz – Santander
  • Festival de Cometas – Villa De Leyva
  • Festibuga – Buga – Valle Del Cauca
  • Festival de la Bahía – Bahía Solano
  • Festival Folclórico del Litoral Pacifico – Buenaventura
  • Boyacá International Cultural Festival – Tunja, Boyacá


  • Boyacá International Cultural Festival – Tunja, Boyacá
  • Concurso Nacional de bandas – Paipa, Boyaca
  • Feria Bonita – Bucaramanga
  • Festival Latinoamericano de Teatro – Manizales – Caldas
  • Festival de la Talla en Piedra – Barichara
  • Festival de Música Folclórica – Socorro – Santander
  • Festival Cuna de Acordeones – Villa Nueva – Guajira
  • Green Moon Festival – San Andrés Islas
  • Festival de la Trova – Medellín
  • Jazz al Parque – Bogotá
  • Festival Internacional del Jazz del Teatro Libre – Bogotá
  • Fiestas de San Pacho – Quibdó – Chocó


  • Reinado Nacional del Turismo – Girardot, Cundinamarca
  • Feria Internacional de Bogotá
  • Festival de Cine – Bogotá
  • Festival Nacional de Gaitas – Ovejas – Sucre
  • Festival Latinoamericano de Danzas Folclóricas – Guacarí – Valle del Cuaca
  • Concurso Nacional de Duos – Armenia – Quindio
  • Festival y Reinado Nacional del Carbón – Barrancas – Guajira)
  • Reinado Nacional de la Cosecha – Granada – Meta
  • Encuentro Mundial de Coleo – Villavicencio – Meta
  • Reinado Nacional de Turismo – Girardot – Cundinamarca


  • Concurso Nacional de Belleza – Cartagena
  • Reinado Internacional de Coco – San Andres
  • Festival Internacional Folclórico y Turístico del Llano – San Martin – Meta
  • Fiesta Nacional de la Agricultura – Palmira – Valle


  • Expoartesanias – Bogotá – CORFERIAS
  • Desfile de Danzas, Mitos y Leyendas – Medellin
  • Aguinaldo Boyacense – Tunja
  • Festival de Arte “Memoria e Imaginacion” – Cartagena
  • Festival de Luces – Villa De Leyva
  • Fiesta de Velas y Faroles – Quimbaya Quindio
  • Torneo Internacional de Contrapuenteo y La Voz Recia – Yopal Arauca.


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