img

Why See the Flower Festival in Medellin, Colombia this August

October 28, 2019, 6:37 pm

The Flower Festival in Medellin, Colombia takes place during the first week of August. It’s an exciting extravaganza every traveller should witness at least once. Keep reading to see how the Flower Festival, or Feria de las Flores in Spanish, is just one more reason this travel writer fell in love with “The City of Eternal Spring.”

Sweat trickles down the brow of a stooped 90-year-old lady walking in the heat. On her back she is carrying a 50-kilo flower display for miles across the city. And by her side dance half-naked performers in tribute to indigenous rituals.

Medellin Flower Festival

This is one of the pinnacles of South American gala, the Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival) in Colombia's second city, Medellin.

For more than 50 years, men and women of all ages have been participating in this remarkable spectacle. Slaves were once forced to carry rich people up and down the city's surrounding mountains. Now, proud country folk carry flowers. It is called the Silleteros parade – the crowning event of a ten-day festival including dog shows, automobile parades and beauty contests.

I arrived in Medellin at the beginning of the Feria. As my bus turned a corner, my first ever view of "The City of Eternal Spring" in the valley below was awe-inspiring. As usual, Medellin bathed in sunshine and redbrick buildings sprawled out for miles into the hills. But what really struck me was how modern and clean it looked – completely unlike other Colombian cities, as Paisas (Medellin locals) will proudly tell you.

When the festival began, a general wave of joy spread through the town, particularly at night in areas like Parque Lleras in Poblado and La 70, where Salsa bars line the streets.

Flower displays were everywhere. The inspiring SantaFé Mall, for example, dedicated the entirety of its ground floor to a marvellous exhibition. I also went to the botanical gardens and Parque Arví, where flower arrangements stole the show. Even alongside the magnificent España Library in the hills, equally innovative floral tributes had been crafted.

Medellin Flower Festival

On one afternoon there was an old car parade with delighted owners waving and smiling down from their vehicles. There were hooting and cheering aplenty, particularly when a Coca-Cola van sped past, throwing out free bottles for screaming fans. You would not believe how much excitement that publicity stunt stirred among the locals, who scrambled on top of one another to get hold of a Coke. Regrettably, amid the hubbub I missed out.

What I did not miss was the most colourful spectacles of the entire festival – dog shows all over town. Some of the strangest looking creatures I'd yet seen ran around with funny hairdos and clothes. I was starting to fall in love with this eccentric city.

All this came before the main event – the Silleteros parade. Medellin came to a complete halt and the entire population aligned the streets, making it near impossible to get a good view for those who arrive late. Some crafty dealers set up temporary stands for which they charged top dollar – up to $50,000 pesos (£16). Though somehow my friends and I managed to find one of the very few relatively empty areas.

The parade was down for a 2pm start. We waited in quiet anticipation for more than half an hour for the first signs of life. And just as my legs were giving way to boredom and I was searching for a place to lie down, I heard the first faint cheer from further up the road. I got to my feet and five minutes later saw the first of the Silleteros. A man was struggling along slowly with a huge flower arrangement on his back. It was bigger than him. The crowd boisterously willed him along and he even managed a few pirouettes to show off his flowers to the cameras.Medellin Flower Festival

For the next five hours I stuffed myself with crisps and beer while watching the spectacular event. Fortunately, some form of entertainment, such as a marching band or strange indigenous dance, followed each group of Silleteros. Otherwise it may have been a bit of a strain to watch endless flower-carriers.

So between acts, beautiful male and female dancers tangoed wildly while folks in giant monster costumes regaled the crowd. Flutists and trumpeters tooted and daredevils sparked fires. And all the while I was continually in awe of the numerous Silleteros carrying twice their body weight in flowers to make their city proud.

Can’t Make It to the Flower Festival?

Medellin Flower Tour

If you can’t travel to Medellin between during the first week of August for the Flower Festival this year, don’t worry! You can still enjoy Colombia’s second-largest city and learn about the flower production process during a 3-day Medellin tour. The experience includes a visit to a real flower farm where they grow various blooms for the annual Flower Festival. Learn more about this exciting tour in Medellin, Colombia here.

Share with your traveller friends!

Andrew Gold
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Gold

Andrew is a freelance journalist who lived in Medellin, Colombia. He holds an NCTJ qualification and worked as an online reporter for The Sun and several other publications before moving abroad. His passions are travel, football and languages – he speaks French and Spanish. He is constantly astounded at how much Colombia – and Medellin in particular – have to offer.

img img

RELATED TOURS

Comuna 13 Medellin Tour

from £59 1 Day
BOOK NOW

Small Towns and Medellin Tour

from £519 3 Days
BOOK NOW

Comuna 13 and Colombia Flower Farm Tour

from £109 1 Day
BOOK NOW

Guatape and El Peñol Day Trip

from £125 1 Day
BOOK NOW

THANK YOU

Booking completed. You will receive email with booking confirmation.

Payment Gateway Error

We are sorry but we are facing our payment gateway error. Please try again soon.

AVAILABILITY ERROR

We are sorry but we cannot complete booking due to availability change. Please try again with new dates.

BOOKING ERROR

We are sorry but we cannot complete booking due to availability change. Please try again with new dates.

BOOKING KEY ERROR

We are sorry but we cannot complete booking due to booking key error. Please try again.

Almost done! You will now be directed to PayPal to complete the secure booking process. You're so close to booking an amazing holiday in Colombia!