Considering what to do and where to go for your summer vacation? Why not “kill two birds with one stone” by visiting one of the most incredibly beautiful and welcoming cities to be found anywhere, and by attending one of the loveliest and most grand festivals in the world, the annual Flower Festival in Medellin, Colombia? Held each year for a period of 10 days during late July and early August, the Feria de las Flores is an event that, once experienced, will never be forgotten. People from around the world attend, many being repeat attendees. And, as if the event itself were not enough, Medellin too is a sight and experience to behold!
For 2011, the Flower Festival will be held from July 29 through August 7.
Medellin, Colombia—an energetic, cosmopolitan metropolis, lying at nearly 1500 meters (5,000 feet) in elevation amidst the grandeur of the Andes—is known as “the land of eternal spring”. The near-equator latitude and elevation combine for perfect weather, ensuring an ideal climate for year ’round blossoms that has made Medellin the “Flower Capital of the Americas”. Warm, balmy days give way to cool, pleasant nights. Additionally, because of the seemingly ideal elevation, there are no bugs! The capital of the Department of Antioquia, Medellin was founded in 1616 by the Spaniard Francisco Herrera Y Campuzano, providing for a rich colonial cultural heritage that has been well preserved and is still evident today. In terms of population and economy, Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia, with more than 3.5 million people. Medellin ranks in population as the 91st largest urban center in the world.
Most of those who reside in Medellin and in the neighboring areas are known as Paisas–a term used with great pride and coming from the word paisano, meaning “fellow countryman”. Like the cowboys of the American west or the gauchos of Argentina—with their traditional wide-brimmed hats and western-style boots, and agile, sturdy horses, and choice prime beef—their heritage, work ethic, and gusto for life provide plenty of reason to boast, but they do so without arrogance or superiority. Paisas make up one of the five different regional cultures within Colombia. The Paisa culture has a Spanish background, and is traditionally Catholic, entrepreneurial, hard-working, and famously hospitable. Paisas are said to speak softly and quickly, and to smile easily.
“The Flower fair is one of the most awaited moments by all citizens. The joy, the feast, the culture, the flowers, and the tourists take over the streets and parks of Medellín. The transformation of the city […] is our main tourist attraction.” – Comfenalco, Antioquia
As unprecedented by its 54-year history, the Feria de las Flores officially opens with the Cabalgata—a three-hour-long horse parade featuring 7 – 10 thousand(!) colorfully adorned horses and riders—and a magnificent fireworks display. For many, this alone is an experience that makes the Flower Festival worth attending. The horses, mostly of the famed South American Pasofino breed, and many of the riders are decorated in the brilliant red, yellow and blue of the Colombian flag, celebrating both the theme and the pride of this wonderful country and people. TheCabalgata holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for being the world’s largest horse parade.
The Parade of Flowers, or the Desfile de Silleteros, said to use more flowers than the famed Rose Parade, also holds a Guinness Book of World Records title as the world’s largest flower parade. A seemingly endless spectacular, mobile show of colossal floral arrangements, the Flower Parade displays the extravagant six-foot disks of incredibly creative and beautiful flower arrangements, called selletas. The silleta is a chair-like apparatus for carrying flowers on a person’s back. They are made from wood and have a back plate and two handles for hanging the silleta on a person’s back. They were originally much smaller and were used in colonial times to carry people in the mountains of Antioquia! A silletero is the term used for the farmers who grow, harvest, and create these beautiful floral arrangements. As the Flower Parade unfolds, bystanders cheer, celebrate, and applaud the beautiful, colorful, and aromatic selletas, overflowing with pinocchios, lilies, carnations, agapanthuses, sunflowers, bridal veil, gladioli, chrysanthemums, roses, and orchids.
While the Cabalgata and the Desfile de Silleteros could definitely be considered the “main events”, the Flower Festival is actually a collection of over 140 different cultural, traditional, and modern events spread out over the 10-day period of the festival. In addition to the Cabalgata and the Desfile de Silleteros, there is the Orchestra Festival, the National Trova Festival (singers in duels of improvised verses), an antique and classic car parade featuring over 100 beautiful automobiles, a dog walk, musical and cultural platforms at parks and venues throughout the city, the Festival of Remembrance and Folk Songs, a contest of talented women, an Orchids, Birds and Flowers display, the National Horse Fair, the Chiva Carnival, the National Championship of Sound on Wheels, and many other events to keep you fully stimulated, “wowed”, and entertained.
…and all of this while enjoying a city that is in continual party mode for 10 days straight! …people, visitors and locals alike, dancing and partying in the streets. …a party atmosphere that doesn’t stop, continuing into the night every day, making this the absolutely best time to visit and enjoy the Medellin nightlife, while at the same time remaining family-friendly and safe. Medellin has much to do and offer for all ages and lifestyles. …the festivities of the Feria de las Flores simply magnify and enhance your options!
So whether solo (be prepared to meet some of the most beautiful women in the world!) or bringing the wife and children, we at IGC recommend that you plan ahead and book your reservations NOW. For an event of this size and popularity, accommodations and flights fill up rapidly. Don’t miss your opportunity to experience one of the most amazing and enjoyable cultural events in the world. You will not be disappointed! …don’t miss your opportunity to experience the passion that is Colombia … the passion that is Medellin … the passion that you will discover at the Feria de las Flores.
To learn more about living, investing and traveling to Colombia please request our complimentary guide.