Cultural Events on the Caribbean Coast - The Carnaval de Barranquilla & Many More
The natural beauty of the Colombian coast never disappoints. But don’t worry -- there are plenty of worthy events to attend as well.
We could not start this list off without highlighting one of Colombia's largest celebrations, and the biggest event to take place on the coast all year round: the Carnaval de Barranquilla. As the second largest carnival in the world (only surpassed by Rio de Janeiro), it is a jubilant and decadant event that lasts for four days only two hours away from Santa Marta.
Barranquilla is situated between Santa Marta and Cartagena and is one of Colombia's most important port cities, laying at the mouth of the country's largest waterway, The Magdalena River. The slogan for festival weekend is "those who live are those who enjoy it," so don't miss out on this weekend in early February!
In Santa Marta, the end of July is time for Festival of the Sea, a several-days-long celebration that attracts throngs of tourists and includes cultural attractions, music, water activities, sports, and more. Of course, no matter when you visit Santa Marta, celebrating the sea on your own is easy, with sailing events and the chance to sail your own boat, swim, scuba dive, whale watch and much more. Later, in September, the International Theatre Festival appeals to those who would rather watch the magic of the stage unfold in front of them. Musical and folk artists also perform.
Those who prefer the screen to the stage can head to Cartagena, where the annual Cartagena Film Festival highlights the best of cinema and television from throughout Latin America, with a particular focus on short films and Colombian television works. But there’s much more than that. The Classical Musical Festival of Cartagena is an attraction each January, while the Hay Festival Cartagena is one of the top literary events in Colombia. Cartagena was also the first province in the country to announce its independence from Spain, so Independence Day celebrations each November 11th here have special meaning.
In the town of Ciénaga, you can attend Fiesta del Caimán, a January feast in honor of a local legend. In June, Magdalena hosts Arranca Festival de la Cumbia, a showcase of cumbia, a traditional Colombian dance that meshes indigenous, African and European influences into an art form all its own.
Finally, Palomino plays host to one of the most unique and worthwhile events in the country. The Jaguar Festival promotes cultural exchange through a variety of art and music. If you’re around in January, it’s not to be missed.