Medellin’s Feria de las Flores

Selling Refreshments @ Desfile de Silleteros

As you may be aware, Medellin’s annual Feria de las Flores is 10 day or so celebration of the region’s flower industry. Each August , travelers the world over flock to the land of “eternal spring” to take in the pageantry and celebration of one of Latin America’s most festive events.

The event kicks off with the Desfile de Caballos (Horse Parade) and ends with Desfile de Silleteros (Flower Bearers Parade) with a plethora of events in between.

Parque Berrios in Medellin's El Centro (Central)

Perhaps it’s because the event coincides with vacation season in North America; or perhaps it’s because Colombia is finally shaking it’s outdated image as a scary, violent destination; or perhaps it’s because the event is so damned beautiful and fun, (it’s probably all 3) but each August it seems your seeing more and more foreign travelers.

As a result, in August at least and in certain areas of the upscale Poblado neighborhood you’ll have no problems if you don’t speak a word of Spanish as there is almost always someone around who speaks some English.

But if you speak even some, primitive Spanish, you’ll have a much easier time moving around  the more interesting (and yes, still relatively safe) areas of Medellin and enjoying the spectacle that is the Feria de las Flores while interacting with some of the friendliest people on the planet… Paisas (residents of the state of Antioquia and other surrounding areas).

The Flower Bearers Parade

If you do go for Feria and want a good vantage point for the parades then you may want to invest in tickets that guarantee you good seating in the grandstands.  They are relatively cheap and I hear you can pick some up at the major hotels and shopping malls.

But if you’re like me and not a great “planner aheader” then not to worry. You can usually find a decent vantage point if your willing to get there early & climb a tree (if you can find one empty).

But the fact that Feria de las Flores 2011 is in the history books shouldn’t make you hesitate one bit about visiting Medellin or Colombia any other time of year. Paisas are, deservedly so, very proud of their city’s turnaround during the past decade and in general, you’ll find them very hospitable, friendly and welcoming to travelers no matter the time of year.

For more information on what Colombia and Medellin specifically have to offer the adventurous and the not so adventurous traveler be sure and visit Medellin Info and the Medellin Convention & Visitors Bureau sites. In my opinion, Colombia really is an amazing, hidden gem of a country and Medellin is one of the best cities in all of Latin America. So get there and enjoy already! 


No Parade Tickets? No Problem!

Medellin’s Desfile Caballos (Horse Parade)

Each and every August,  Medellin  gets filled with tourists from all over Colombia and indeed the world as people make their way to the  famous Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival).

It’s a 10 day or so festive celebration of Medellin’s large and important flower industry that includes parades (desfiles), concerts, flower displays, contests and parties nearly every day of the festival, culminating with the incredibly colorful and grand Desfile de las Flores (Flower Parade) the last day of the festival.

Last Saturday, things got kicked off with the Desfile de Caballos (Horse Parade). Now I know that horses are very important to Paisa (people from the Antioquia region of Colombia) culture but I had no idea they were so prevalent.

Everything from packs of  mules to incredible specimens of well trained horse flesh were marching down the parade route. At times you almost got the feeling there were as many folks in the parade as watching it.

There had to be thousands upon thousands of horses and their riders making their way down the blocked off “autopista” (freeway) while thousands and thousands of spectators partied and took in the spectacle.

And not just horses, the Colombian military showed off their impressive might as well to an appreciative crowd.  While I know that not everyone feels this way, most of the people that I observed at least, seemed genuinely thankful for their military’s role in the marked reduction on violence the past decade or so in Colombia.

The parade lasted from 2 or so in the afternoon until well after sundown and the energy was entirely positive. Aside from a few well meaning folks warning me to be careful with my camera (already knew that), there were no issues other than the music was really, really loud and it was a little tough to converse without screaming your head off.

Those that could handle the rowdiness and partying a bit longer made their way over to nearby Parque Poblado and Parque Lleras which were as packed with revelers as I’ve ever seen.

Now I can only assume there were most likely jam packed until the wee hours the next morning because as for me, well, I need my beauty sleep these days and I wanted to save my strength because the Feria celebrations were just getting started.

I’ve posted a few photos here for your enjoyment but if you’d like to see them all be sure and check out the set on our FLIKR PAGE.

Stay tuned, this weekend there are even more parades so more photos and coverage to follow.