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Among carnivals, fairs, parades and dances, Colombians receive the year with contagious joy while attempting to keep some of their Spanish, African and Indigenous heritage alive. Visitors can find a carnival or festival almost every day of the year and discover the authenticity of the Colombian people, the exquisite cuisine, old cities embracing history and tradition, and the abundant of natural resources that make the country a paradise for adventurers.
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The first great party starts on December 25th and for 6 days, the city celebrates until the end of the year. The Cali fair attracts tourists from all over the country and abroad, who come to participate in the horse-riding parades, witness bullfights, dance to the rhythm of the best salsa orchestras, enjoy multitudinous concerts, dances, and delicious gastronomy. Cali has become an iconic city worldwide because of the Salsa dance and it is the ideal city to celebrate Christmas while partying like a local.
The New Year starts with the most elegant and sophisticated Festival hosted by the iconic Cartagena de Indias. During January, the Walled City becomes a first class stage that brings together the greatest exponents in the fields of literature, film-making, journalism, music, poetry and art. The Hay Festival began in Wales before expanding to other countries around the world, including Colombia.
The festival hosts international artists and offers events such as panel discussions, workshops, Q&A sessions and exhibits. Frequently, speakers are seen strolling the streets of Cartagena, sitting in small colonial plazas, eating in a restaurant, or enjoying a cup of coffee or an ice-cream in the company of people interested in asking questions or simply listening to their magnificent stories.
The idea behind all of this is to create bridges between normal citizens and great creators, thus giving rise to more open, multi-cultural societies.
Being the largest meeting of races in Colombia, this Carnival takes place from January 4th to the 6th in Pasto, Nariño. The Andean city located in southwestern Colombia, attracts a large number of tourists from all over the country and the world.
Over the course of time, elements from Spanish festivities were added to the local festival; and later, elements from African feasts were added as well, thus consolidating what we call the Carnival of Blacks and Whites. Little by little, other elements were added: make-up, talcum powder, and music to resemble characters of different races at the festival. Tourists can also find floats with gigantic sculptures built by artisans. The main idea of this celebration is to forget about race and embrace the richness of the Colombian culture at its purest stage.
The Manizales Fair takes place during the first week of January, immediately following the Cali Fair. Manizales is known as the city of open doors and its fair is recognized as a Cultural Heritage of the Nation. The first fair took place in 1951 and was created as a replica of the Feria de Sevilla in Spain. Many customs from the Sevilla Fair are imitated in the week-long Manizales Fair. Over the years, these Hispanic-Mediterranean customs have blended with other Colombian traditions from the Andes region.
The International Coffee Pageant is the most symbolic event in the Manizales Fair. This is one of the most important pageants in America. Representatives of coffee-producing and coffee-consuming countries attend and it serves to highlight Colombia internationally as the producer of the world’s mildest and most aromatic coffee.