Carnaval de Barranquilla
Carnaval de Barranquilla
4
About
Bypass Rio, the best Carnaval is in Barranquilla. Beginning on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, Carnaval de Barranquilla is the largest celebration in Colombia and one of the largest carnavals (religious festivals) in the world. Featuring live music, tons of dancing and an immense parade full of masked revellers, Barranquilla’s Carnaval shuts down the city for four unforgettable days. The festivities start with La Batalla de Flores (the Battle of the Flowers), a parade of elaborate floats, and continue with more days of dancing, costumes and celebrations.
Duration: More than 3 hours
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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles73 reviews
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40
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Hassan Yashar
Greater London, UK333 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Friends
I’m very disappointed in whole experience. I’ve never seen it such a bad organisation and very poorly made costume and carnival. How could you compare this rubbish to Rio Carnival. Apparently Barranquilla Carnival is the second biggest carnival (After Rio) in South America. This is a joke! After seeing the Rio Carnival, Barranquilla Carnaval was very amateur. Costume, cartography, music, dance and whole atmosphere were so poor.
Show supposed to start at 1pm, and it started at 2:45pm instead. And whole parade was repeated for 4 days. Was a joke. It feels like at school when we we prepare a end of year fair, it was that bad.
Written February 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mitchell K
Carmichael, CA10 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021 • Friends
Too many wonderful cities and events to choose a favorite. I traveled with friends who introduced me to interpreters. The interpreters made the trip really wonderful. They can be found with a simple search. Between them and Google translate I met the kindest and friendliest people. The Carnavale De Museo in Barranquilla, the Walled City in Cartagena, and Sierra Minca just outside of Santa Marta were my highlaights. I'll be going back this year and I will be focusing my time in Santa Marta. Sailing, fishing, and Sierra Minca will be my focus
Written October 11, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

BC_Dallas_Texas
Dallas, Texas178 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2017 • Friends
When I first heard about this event, I found it curious that the Carnaval in Barranquilla is touted as the “second largest Carnaval” (after the one in Rio) but I had never previously heard of Barranquilla’s carnaval until I was doing a internet search looking for an pre-lent celebration as an alternative to Rio’s crime ridden event. That is how we ended up in Barranquilla- to attend the carnaval that we went to in Feb 2017. Here is my experience:

Barranquilla’s carnaval parade is held over 3 days with major event parades held on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We decided in advance that we would only attend the Saturday parade which was slated to last for 5 hours from noon-5 pm. For the first 2.5 hours of the parade it was interesting, organized, well choreographed and exciting. Thereafter, the breaks between parade items became progressively longer until there were 15 lapsing between anything passing in front of us on the street. Towards the end the crowd began to trickle down from their assigned seats into the middle of the street and what started out as an exciting, well choreographed paraded disintegrated into a street festival of the carnaval attendees with as much of the attendees socializing in the street as planned parade participants. We left after 4 hours, disappointed at how rapidly the parade’s excitement had gone south.

We planned a Colombian vacation around the Barranquilla Carnaval. I will not come again to Barranquilla Carnaval and now understand why I had not previously heard of the “second largest Carnaval in the world”. Fortunately, we realized in our vacation planning that the only thing interesting in Barranquilla from a tourism perspective was the Carnaval and therefore limited the number of days we planned to spend in Barranquilla. We are spending the rest of our time in this part of Colombia in Santa Marta and Cartagena which are much more interesting cities than Barranquilla.

For others who might be planning to come to Barranquilla for a future Carnaval, here are my suggestions:

1. I had a really difficult time booking tickets in advance for this event while in the U.S. The online booking center (tuboleta.com) does not accept credit cards on their website from non-Colombian banks, has no “e-ticket” function available online for delivery of your purchased tickets electronically to your e-mail, issues only paper tickets which can only be delivered to a Colombian address or which must be picked up from a Tuboleta distribution outlet in Colombia.
2. There were only two methods which I discovered that Barranquilla’s Carnaval’s tickets can be obtained if you are not from Colombia:

a. Obtain the tickets through a re-seller agency. I used Ticketbis as the re-seller. Even though I knowingly paid more than face value for Carnaval tickets, I had the peace of mind of having the tickets delivered to my home in the U.S. and in my hand before I left the U.S. I did not want to plan a trip to Colombia to see Carnaval and risk getting here without tickets and being dependent on finding tickets on the street. I also like going through the ticket re-seller as you know exactly where you will be sitting.
b. You can purchase tickets through Tuboleta.com (but not online). You can call Tuboleta and speak to an agent by telephone who will sell you tickets and allow you to us a credit card from a country outside of Colombia. If you pursue this route, you 1) must speak Spanish well enough to have a complicated conversation with a ticket agent by phone and 2) can only pick up your tickets from a Tuboleta outlet in Colombia. I picked my tickets up from their outlet at the Washington Plaza (Centro Commercial “CC” Royal-Washington) at Calle 80 and Carrera 53. When your purchase the tickets by phone, they will send you a confirmation to your e-mail address== which you will print out and take with you to pick up your actual paper tickets once you arrive in Barranquillia.

3. Also realize that you can only purchase tickets in advance for all three days – Saturday, Sunday and Monday—even if you only want tickets for one or two of those days. One day of watching this spectacle is more than enough. I was really glad that we had planned to go to only one day of the event. We were “over it” after 2.5 hours of day one. We sold our Sunday and Monday tickets on the street to a ticket peddler looking to buy tickets to resell to others. There are plenty of those individuals to be found either loitering outside of the Tuboleta ticket distribution centers or on the path walking towards the parade.
4. When you purchase tickets, get tickets located in the Palcos. You will have the option of purchasing tickets in “Palcos” or “mini-Palcos”. Palcos are essentially secured sections of bleachers. Sitting in a Palco has several advantages: Frist, the Palcos are all on the shaded side of the parade route. The “mini-palcos” are located on the shaded as well as the sunny side of the parade route. You don’t want to end up sitting on the side of the street which is hit by the afternoon sun. To know for sure that you will not be sitting on the sunny side of the street, purchase a ticket in the “Palco” rather than in a “mini-Palco”. Also Palcos have porta-toilets, drinks and food which are offered within your “Palco” section, without having to go outside of the secured, bleacher section over the 5 hour parade experience for food, drink or to use the facilities.
Written March 7, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Queen J
California2,160 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
The carnaval is fun, and the people are lively and friendly. Saturday's main parade, Batalla de Flores, is amazing - 6 hours of bright colors, lively dancing, catchy music, glittering costumes, bold feathers, and impressive floats. If you arrive early (around 10:30am) to the palco (covered bleachers), you can stand right at the rail at the edge of the street, and the parade participants will come up to you for pictures or hugs, etc. The parade photos are spectacular. It's the 2nd largest carnaval parade in South America; yet, the spectators are so close to the parade procession, it often feels as if we are in the parade, too! Don't expect the pomp and circumstance of Rio's glamorous carnaval. Barranquilla's festivities center on social interaction in an engaging casual atmosphere.

There are different concerts every night. Last year we saw Daddy Yankee and Mana. This year we saw two concerts in the futbol stadium. Friday's concert had various artists, but the headliners were UB40, Carlos Vives, and Ricky Martin. The next night we saw J. Balvin. The following night we joined one of the many street parties. Monday night has a battle of the orquestras competition with VERY talented salsa bands that play one-after-another until 5am.

This was the 3rd Barranquilla Carnaval I attended and even though I traveled from California with only a Friday and a Monday off from work, it was worth it! Each year, I say I'm not going to go through all the hassle and expense of going the next year when I can only stay 2 or 3 days, but then....each year I end up going back. Because I have friends who live in Barranquilla, it's more enjoyable for me than if I just visited by myself as a tourist. But even if I didn't know anyone there, I'd still enjoy being there to see the parade and experience the enthusiasm. It's something you have to experience at least once.

*One drawback of attending the Barranquilla Carnaval is that it is difficult to make arrangements for the festivities from afar. You have to know someone there to buy good tickets locally ahead of time. Buying tickets at the best palco is a must if you want pictures where the parade participants get up close and personal. Do NOT buy concert tickets online. The online ticket agents are a SCAM. They are legit sources if you buy paper tickets in town in person, but online, they never deliver the paper tickets you bought, nor do they have an electronic ticket option.

I've had NO issues with theft or safety, but I follow the same travel rules in every country I visit: I do not wear jewelry or flash large wads of cash. I do not carry big bills or US dollars. I do not carry money in my pockets. I put my money in my interior clothing or inner-layer pockets where pickpockets can't get to it. I stay in well-lit, populated areas. During the day, I hold my phone tightly in my hand and close to my body in public places (not loosely in my pocket), and I don't bring my phone with me at night if I don't have any interior pockets. EVERY tourist location/event in the world has pickpockets and scams. Don't be naive and make yourself a target. Have fun, but always be wary of your surroundings, and assume at least one person near you will snatch your phone if you don't have it in a death grip.

**Do be aware that one of the carnival traditions is to throw cornstarch powder at people / on their faces / in their hair, and to spray people with white foam from canisters. Do not bring any nice clothes or shoes that you would shed a tear for when you have to throw them away after the festivities. The whole city dresses casual during this time, wearing shorts or jeans, tropical/floral print cotton shirts, tank tops, and bright carnaval shirts with red, yellow, and green stripes.

The weather is HOT and humid. If the carnaval is in February, a slight breeze during the day keeps the temps bearable and the mosquitos at bay. At night, the wind picks up and a light sweater might be needed. In March, it's just hot. And mosquitos will eat you alive if you don't wear repellant.

Naturally, the lodging prices are sky high during carnaval, and sell out the month of the event, so this isn't a trip you can do last-minute. I bought my flight in July and reserved an apartment in August/September for this year's carnaval in February. Once you get to Barranquilla, everything else is cheap, even taxis. Uber is common here, as well.

Hope that helps. If you like lively events and don't mind strangers tossing powder at you, it's a great opportunity to make some new friends and fun memories in a vibrant atmosphere!
Written February 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

albatros673
Paris, France2 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2022
I wrote this post after I was at the Barranquilla carnival in 2022 and I realized that there was basically no information on the internet. Hope it helps.

1) I want to to go the Carnival. Should I do anything in advance?
Yes, book an accommodation. Seriously, do it as early as possible. If you don’t, you might end up lodging very far, in very sketchy places, or, worse, just paying for some shady Airbnb that do not even exist. Also, buy your ticket for Baila la Caille in advance (see below).

2) I am in Barranquilla. Now what?
Go and buy some colourful cloths in the street markets. These markets are an amazing experience, don’t miss them.

3) Should I go to a parade?
Yes. Go to Batalla de Flores (Battle of Flowers), the biggest parade. Buy a place on the palcos (tribune) if you want enjoy a good view. The parade will start very late (so don’t rush there) and last very long (thus filling up your parade hunger).

4) What is Baila la Caille?
It is an organised street festival, with tickets to access the area. It is probably the main event of the carnival, so do go. There will be music, dancing and fun until dawn. Either you buy the tickets well in advance, or you will end up spending an afternoon lining up to buy the ones at the door. The second option worked for me, but I would definitely recommend the first one.

5) I want to enjoy the Carnival but I don’t want to wonder in Barranquilla’s street at night.
Go to the street, but not to any street. I’d suggest spending at least one night in the area around Carrera 50, right outside of the Baila la Calle event. A lot of shops crack up their speakers and sell alcohol, so the streets essentially become an open-air popular club. Don’t miss this, it’s the essence of the carnival.

6) You probably heard Barranquilla is unsafe. What does it actually mean?
It means that you have 70-80% chance to get robbed. Maybe more, at least if you look like a tourist and go partying at night. It can happen also in organised events. It comes with the game, so accept it. It is more unlikely to get stubbed or shot, but it happened to some people in my hotel. Just be very careful. I loved this carnival, but if you are risk averse, I would not recommend it.

7) Wow. What does it mean to be careful?
Don’t bring your phone and keep your money in your underwear. The most common accident is to get sprayed with carnival foam in the eyes and quickly pickpocketed. Be ready for it: if people spray you in the face, cover your values, not your face. Don’t look for a dark place to pee in the street when you are drunk. Don’t wander alone in the streets, never. Don’t wander at night in streets that are not busy, never. Always get a cab until the entrance of your hotel. That’s it. Good luck.

8) Is it fun?
OMG yes!!!
Written January 28, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CharlesP1078
London, UK3 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
The worst party/carnival/event/festival I have ever been to in my life.

Pickpockets are everywhere. Had my phone stolen in first 10 mins, as did three others in our group, and over 50% of people we met in Hostels after. They spray you with the white foam until you are blind and take what they can.

The parade is tacky and cheap. Can't see anything as stands are in the way. Even people in "safe stands" had their possessions stolen too.

6 of us were meant to be there for 4 days, we left the next morning after the first day. It's a disgusting town with a disgusting carnival. Also took an hour to get a taxi after the street party in the evening. Zero organisation from local authority. Just leaving tourists out in the streets to be mugged. They're probably in on it. When we finally found a taxi after walking for an hour, he said he wouldn't drive us to our hotel because it's too late and too dangerous.

Just avoid this place and its people.
Written March 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Gungo22
San Juan, Puerto Rico399 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2019 • Friends
A lot of references are being made to Barranquillas being the 2nd largest carnaval after Rio - but this can be misleading.... the two carnivals are completely different! Rio is all polish and glitz - broadway meets vegas with very expensive tickets to the main event in the Sambadromo.
Barranquilla is much more a 'peoples carnival' which celebrates tradition and culture throughout the city. They do have a series of parades on via 40 where you can buy shaded bleecher seating - but you can skip this.... you have to buy all three days, its at the hottest part of the day, always started hours late and almost exactly the same groups parading on all three days.
Much better to just attend the local street parades (best were on Calle 84 for the Caribbean parade and the last day for the funeral of 'Joselito'. Lots of parties and music all over the city during the evening/night hours when sun is not a factor.
So - definitely check out carnival in Barranquilla - but don't expect Rio junior... but go for a truly unique, local, cultural carnival which is celebrated by locals for locals - and you'll be an honored guest!
Written March 7, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Fssf
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
The worst event/festival I have ever been to.

First off, pickpockets are everywhere. It doesn't matter how you try to protect your belongings, they will spray you with the white foam until you are blind, and unzip and take whatever they want. Happened to three independent acquaintances. My phone was stolen too. Police stand around and do nothing.

The parade is underwhelming. There is not even a modicum of organization, despite all the money they rake in tricking naive tourists. The "street parties" are too. You will eat some of the most questionable street food ever.

There is barely a cultural element at all, unless you count people painting themselves black and asking you for money.

Do yourself a favor and skip this.
Written February 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Luis Ramos
Charlotte, NC13 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2018 • Solo
Carnaval De Barranquilla is always a great time. I always tend to fly solo to Barranquilla to visit family and friends but this last time I managed to visit during carnival. I vaguely remember the experience when I went as a child but I will certainly remember this adult experience for a lifetime. You can surely cough up the money to be in the shaded VIP area if you wish however you won't get the best experience.

While the sun was strong, being on the streets with the people was so much fun. Spent the day and night with family drinking beer and aguadiente in the streets while admiring all the dancing, music, costumes, colors, and all the ruckus. Don't be surprised to be covered in flour as all the children (and adults) join in on the fun. It was an experience of a lifetime indeed. Barranquilla is always worth visiting but going during carnival is the bomb diggity!
Written January 15, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

HDLBruxelles
Ohaupo, New Zealand945 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2018 • Couples
1. Don t forget the reservation on the website. Unfortunately for the 3 parades. Prefer a palcos. Shady and ambiance guaranteed.
2. The parade is maybe long but you have the catering around. Easy and not too pricey
3. Ambiance ambiance and ambiance
4. During the 4 days after the parade a lot of activities in the town. Don t forget your "menu" , good shoes, funny clothes and finally all the things to resolve the headache of the day after.
5. I stay only one night during my trip in Colombia but I regretted...and I know a lot of carnival around the world.

DO IT, DANCE, DRINK AND HAVE FUN

take care for the pickpocket...we "loose" our cellular
Written February 14, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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