Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia. Photo by Mike Swigunski, Unsplash

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As the year gracefully waltzes towards its latter half, Colombia prepares to unveil a spectacle of vibrant celebrations, inviting travelers and locals alike to immerse themselves in a melting pot of culture, color, and joy. Your trip to Colombia simply won’t be complete without experiencing a festival or two and this is your ultimate guide to where to find the revelries this year.

From the spirited rhythms of Cali Fair to the enchanting aromas of Candle Day and the kaleidoscopic splendor of the Medellin Flower Fair, these three events promise an unforgettable journey through Colombia’s rich heritage and infectious exuberance.

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Cali Fair: December 25 – December 30, 2024

Step into the heart of salsa, where the sultry beats of Cali Fair ignite the streets with an electrifying energy. From December 25th to the 30th, Cali, the salsa capital of the world, transforms into a pulsating playground of music, dance, and pure jubilation. Amidst a whirlwind of colorfully adorned dancers and infectious rhythms, visitors find themselves swept up in the contagious spirit of celebration.

There are close to 60 events during this post-Christmas spectacle, and almost all of them are free to attend. Some of the best salsa troops in the world come together to dance alongside floats and salsa orchestras, swaying their hips down Roosevelt Avenue until the early hours of the morning.

Over thirty schools, comprised of nearly 1,200 dancers from Cali’s bustling neighborhoods, take to the streets adorned in a kaleidoscope of colorful costumes, their choreographed moves entertaining the masses. Prepare to lose yourself in the rhythm, as every corner of Cali comes alive with the passion and rhythm that define Colombian culture.

Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Photo by Deisy Vidal, Unsplash
Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Photo by Deisy Vidal, Unsplash

Candle Day in Colombia: December 7, 2024

On December 7th, Colombia glows with warmth and reverence as Candle Day casts a serene ambiance across the nation. This cherished tradition, rooted in faith and unity, sees streets, plazas, and churches adorned with flickering candles, illuminating the night with a soft, golden glow.

It’s a time for reflection, gratitude, and connection as Colombians come together to celebrate the light that guides them through the darkness, both literally and metaphorically. From the bustling cities to the tranquil countryside, Candle Day offers a moment of tranquility amidst the festive fervor.

This is far removed from the boisterous revelries you might know from `Colombia, and millions of candles light up cities and villages to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Villa de Leyva, Medellín, and Corrales or Quimbaya are some of the most renowned spots to soak in this Catholic tradition but you can observe the warm glow of candles almost anywhere across the country.

Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia. Photo by Mike Swigunski, Unsplash
Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia. Photo by Mike Swigunski, Unsplash

Medellin Flower Fair: July 26 – August 5, 2024

The Medellin Flower Fair is a vibrant tapestry woven with a myriad of events, each adding a unique hue to this magnificent celebration of floral splendor. Among the highlights is the traditional Parade of Silleteros, where local farmers proudly carry elaborate floral arrangements on their backs, transforming the streets into a living gallery of color and creativity. Adding a touch of nostalgia and elegance, the Parade of Classic and Antique Cars showcases vintage vehicles adorned with blooms, evoking a bygone era of grace and beauty.

Throughout the festivities, the air resonates with the melodious tunes of the National Trova Festival, where troubadours serenade the crowds with soulful songs and heartfelt lyrics. Meanwhile, the Caravan of Chivas and Flowers brings a rustic charm to the proceedings, as colorful Chivas (traditional Colombian buses) adorned with flowers traverse the city streets in a joyful procession.

But perhaps the most enchanting aspect of the Flower Fair lies in its exhibitions, where orchids take center stage in a breathtaking display of beauty and diversity. From delicate phalaenopsis to vibrant cattleyas, these exquisite blooms captivate the imagination and showcase Colombia’s rich floral heritage.

Spanning across different neighborhoods of Medellin and the picturesque town of Santa Elena, the Flower Fair is a testament to the city’s enduring spirit and cultural richness. Its origins date back to 1957 when Arturo Uribe Arango proposed the celebration to highlight the region’s flower producers and traditions. Since then, the Flower Fair has blossomed into the most important festival in Medellin, attracting participants, activities, and audiences from far and wide, cementing its status as one of Colombia’s most cherished celebrations.

In Colombia, every event is not just a gathering but a testament to the nation’s infectious spirit, its rich history, and its boundless capacity for joy. Whether you find yourself swaying to the rhythm of salsa in Cali, basking in the gentle glow of candlelight on Candle Day, or marveling at the floral splendor of Medellin, these experiences promise to leave an indelible mark on your soul.

So, mark your calendars and prepare to be swept away on a journey of discovery, delight, and unforgettable moments in Colombia’s vibrant tapestry of culture and celebration.

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