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The Barranquilla Carnival is the most important folkloric and cultural festival in Colombia. Every year, this Caribbean city becomes the setting for encounters of folkloric, dance and musical expressions that unleash the joy of their own and visitors. This celebration brings together emblematic expressions of the memory and identity of the people of Barranquilla, the Colombian Caribbean and the Rio Grande de La Magdalena. Its mixture of cultures that sustain what we are as a nation, its capacity for social mobilization that overcomes all kinds of differences and its convening power is at the heart of people who make diversity a reason for celebration and celebration that encourages art popular and keeps our past alive.

The Carnival of Barranquilla has its remote origin in the Carnival that came to America from Spain. That's where his spirit of renewal and change comes from, similar to the one that inspired these festivities in Europe. The first Carnival celebrated in the city is lost in history more than a century ago, when Barranquilla was a small town. However, various stories have been circulated concerning the way the Barranquilla people celebrated the Carnival; its always naive, funny, festive and above all healthy form, have allowed to preserve a tradition that goes back three centuries ago. Carnival parties, of European origin, were introduced to America by the Spanish and Portuguese. Those of Barranquilla have a similar background in the celebration that took place in Cartagena de Indias, during colonial times, as a holiday for slaves; At that time the blacks appeared with their typical instruments and special clothes, dancing and singing. The traditional novena of La Candelaria, in Cartagena de Indias, served as a framework for sumptuous dances that in the 18th century granted a holiday to the black muzzles brought from Africa. These parties are the source of the main dances of the Carnival of Barranquilla.

Currently, the Carnival is celebrated in the last days of February and lasts for 4 days. Its activities are distributed in the following stages:


The celebration begins on Saturday at Carnival with the Battle of Flores, the first of the four days of celebration, its central act, the most important and the most anticipated. It is a great parade of floats, headed by the Queen of Carnival, followed by folk groups, costumes, cumbiambas and comparsas, winners of the previous carnival contests. The Battle of Flowers is the oldest parade held at the Barranquilla Carnival and was organized for the first time in 1903 on the initiative of General Heriberto Arturo Vengoechea who sought to celebrate the end of the War of a Thousand Days. With this event the carnival returned to the city of Barranquillla since since 1900 the celebration had been suspended.


The second day of Carnival takes place the Great Parade of Tradition and Folklore, or simply Great Stop, parade instituted in 1967. In it only traditional folkloric groups, cumbiambas and comparsas are presented. The Great Stop is also carried out on Vía 40, but floats do not parade. This parade shows dance and music in its most traditional essence since there are no longer floats or big sound equipment to distract them. For the year 2013, about 300 comparsas were counted. The dances that make their appearance in this parade are the cataloged dances "popular" as the one of the Caimán Cienaguero or of the Negritas Puloy and "traditional" like the one of the Devils Harlequin or Son of Black. The music therefore also shows its more conservative facet being the cumbias, chandés -associated with the dance of the Garabato and fandangos, associated with the dance of the Marimondas, the most listened to.


The Festival of Orchestras (created in 1969) is celebrated, from the early hours of the afternoon to the early hours of Tuesday. In the Festival, the orchestras and groups participating in the many dances of the carnival participate in the different musical categories. The winners in each category receive the coveted Congo de Oro. One of the most striking rules of the contest is that three songs must be performed and at least one of them must be dedicated, in its content, to the city of Barranquilla, taking into account the rhythmic repertoire of the Colombian Caribbean. This event is currently held at the Romelio Martínez stadium.


As a closing ceremony, the funeral of Joselito Carnaval takes place, which symbolizes the end of the festivities. On this day in many neighborhoods of the city jocular "funerals" of Joselito are performed, which symbolizes the joy of the carnestolendas. It is said then that the character "resuscitates" on Saturday of carnival and "dies" the last day tired and "enguayabado" (drunk) to "resuscitate" again the following year at the next carnival. In this way hundreds of Barranquilleros leave their homes in funeral processions to mourn the deceased with great histrionics. Joselito Carnival can be a real person or a doll and is usually transported inside a coffin or stretcher adorned with flowers and ribbons and surrounded by his "widows" who mourn him. Widows can be men disguised as women. In addition to the widows you can see characters like priests and orphaned children. The origin of this character is uncertain. Since 1999, the Carnival Foundation of Barranquilla celebrates the contest "Joselito goes with the ashes" to encourage more groups to join this celebration and in which the best scenic proposal is rewarded. At night a lively meeting of litanies takes place in the Abajo neighborhood or in the Plaza de la Paz, with which, in simple verses and with their characteristic intonation, they are aired, criticized and commented on the topics of current local, national and international. The next day, Ash Wednesday, Lent begins, a period of religious recollection and abstention that precedes Holy Week.

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