Hit the Streets in Barranquilla
It might not be as well known as its counterpart in Rio, and it might not make it onto all those bucket list blogs, but if you're looking for a 100% genuine carnival experience, forget the rest and head to Barranquilla...
Located up on Colombia's Caribbean coast, Barranquilla's chief claim to fame is that it's the birthplace of Shakira. Visit it at most times of year and you'll find a pleasant, but modern and bustling city, prosperous as you'd expect from Colombia's largest port.
Visit during Carnival time, however, and you'll find that two and a half million people have temporarily taken leave of their senses and are enjoying one of the biggest extended street parties anywhere in the world!
Three Days at the Barranquilla Carnival
In fact, things begin to hot up in the days and weeks before the Barranquilla Carnival officially starts, with a special children's carnival parade, the crowning of the Carnival King and Queen, and lots of other events.
On the Saturday that marks the start of Carnival, however, things really get going with the 6-hour Batalla de Flores (Battle of Flowers) parade which features huge floats, masked dancers, live music, and - of course - tons of flowers!
Over the next three days, the whole city is taken over by parades, giant papier-mache characters, music, dancing, drinking and all the usual carnival festivities. Things come to an end with the ceremonial (acted) death of Joselito, the offical carnival mascot, who expires from drunken exhaustion in a raucous and rousing finale.
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