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Perhaps you are the kind of traveler who makes your visits coincide with a major event at your destination of interest. Colombia has a lot of festivals and carnivals which will sate your thirst for excitement! Here's a short list of some of the most important ones that await you during the course of the next 12 months.
18-21 : Barranquilla Carnival. This is the big one! Colombia's answer to Rio's Carnaval takes over Barranquilla, the coastal city that gave us Shakira and Sofia Vergara! Thousands compete with outrageous costumes and floats in this non-stop, frenetic party that goes back to the 19th century!
19-23 : Llanera music festival, Villavicencio (Meta). A chance to hear and watch all the best Llanera style music bands and dance troupes. Note that Villavicencio also hosts the Joropo festival July 21, celebrating the local music genre.
1-7 : Semana Santa, Popayan (Cauca). There are elaborate Easter week processions all over Colombia, but none are more impressive than those held in the picturesque colonial city of Popayan.
26-30 : Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata. A must for fans of the Vallenato style music, takes place in Valledupar (Cesar), the capital of the genre.
Folklore Festival: Ibague (Tolima). A perfect excuse to visit the Tolima, where most of the country's highest, snow-capped mountains are located, as well as to experience the great cultural variety of this country.
Latter half of June: Festival Nacional del Porro, San Pelayo (Cordoba). Porro is a traditional music and dance style of Colombia's Caribbean coast and this festival has celebrated it for over 30 years. No definite dates announced for 2012 on the festival's portal but last year's was June 23 through July 4.
July 30 - Aug 8 : Feria de las flores. Medellin and neighboring Santa Elena host the world famous flower festival. The key attraction is the parade of the "silleteros", enormous, elaborate and heavy flower arrangements which men and women in traditional dress haul on their backs. Other major attractions are the equine and vintage car parades.
All month: Lights festival, Medellin. An absolutely incredible, huge, display of lights and colors across the Medellin River. There is no light show that can hold a candle to this one!
25-30 : Feria de Cali: Better known as the "Salsa Festival", the main event that draws dance lovers from all over the world to Cali (Valle) to see the best "salseros" compete.
2-7 : Carnaval de Negros y Blancos. Takes place in Pasto (Nariño). Literally the carnival of the "blacks and whites" this is an unique event which celebrates the fusion of the Indigenous, African and Spanish cultures in Colombia.
2-8: Feria de Manizales. The biggest festival held in the coffee growing region of Colombia, in Manizales, capital of Caldas. You might not like the fact it features bullfighting, however! An alternative to soak up the rich culture of the region is the smaller but colorful Calarca (Quindio) cultural festival in June.
Remember: These events are sought by many others and it may be necessary to make your hotel reservations and buy tickets to shows months in advance!