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9 Unmissable Cultural Events You Must Experience in Barranquilla

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Updated on 03/23/2024

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I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

From the Streets to the Theaters: Exploring Barranquilla’s Cultural Tapestry Through 9 Fascinating Events.

Barranquilla Carnival

The Barranquilla Carnival, celebrated annually in Barranquilla, Atlántico, is a vibrant cultural festivity showcasing the diversity of the Colombian Caribbean. Taking place four days before Ash Wednesday, it combines European, African, and Indigenous traditions.

Drawing thousands of tourists, the carnival features over 500 folkloric groups, creating a lively atmosphere with music, dance, parades, comedy shows, costumes, and street parties.

The carnival’s motto, “Quien lo vive es quien lo goza” (Those who live it are those who enjoy it), reflects the joyous spirit. Recognized as the largest Caribbean carnival, it holds the titles of Cultural Heritage of the Nation in Colombia and a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.


  • The main venue of the carnival is Vía 40, an enormous avenue with over 5 miles (8 km) in length, where the main carnival parades take place.
  • Other locations include stadiums, squares, parks, and various public spaces throughout the city and its historic center.

Cultural Activities

  • The Coronation Night: A glamorous ceremony that crowns the Carnival kings, featuring dance performances, lights, and concerts with national artists. The kings are the highest authority and a symbol of beauty in the carnival.
  • The Grand Tradition Parade: Showcasing traditional dances from the Colombian Caribbean, such as the indigenous dance, garabato, mapalé, cumbias, among others.
  • Battle of the Flowers: The central parade marking the beginning of the Carnival, involving floats, folkloric groups, and troupes.
  • Joselito Carnival’s Burial: The closing event, where families gather to bid farewell to Joselito, a festive man who “passes away” after indulging in excessive alcohol during the Carnival. Folkloric groups participate, and theatrical works related to Joselito’s death are performed.
  • Tribute to the Magdalena River: Inspired by the Magdalena River, this event includes artistic expressions related to the river, such as cumbia, porro, gaita, and bullerengue.
  • Reading Marathons: Attendees can participate in activities such as reading aloud and storytelling.
  • Night of Orchestras: Featuring nationally and internationally renowned orchestras playing Caribbean music, salsa, vallenato, and other popular genres from the region.
  • Costume Parade: Showcasing representative carnival and Barranquilla popular culture characters, such as Marimonda, representing the wit and creativity of Barranquilla people, or King Momo, who enlivens the festivities with humor and creativity.
  • Tasting of traditional dishes from the Caribbean coast (sancocho, arepas, patacones, carimañolas, etc.).
  • Artistic exhibitions of photographs depicting the history of the carnival and the cultural and artistic richness of the region.
  • Craft shops, collectibles, and souvenirs themed around the carnival.


  • An average of over 600 thousand visitors per edition.
  • Over 4 million attendances to all public and private events, including locals, nationals, and foreign visitors in the 2023 edition.
  • Over 3 million viewers from various parts of the world enjoyed online platforms offered by the carnival.

Free Admission?

Yes, attendance at the carnival is free for the public. However, certain events such as the vallenato battle or the orchestra festival have a per-person cost.

Additionally, there are VIP stands with better locations and enhanced security for enjoying the parades, which have a cost depending on the location or event.

Why Should You Attend the Barranquilla Carnival?

It’s the best way to explore the authentic cultural roots of the city and understand the role of the most popular carnival in the Caribbean in the identity of Barranquilleros.

It is a visually stunning festival that attracts thousands of tourists each year, especially young party enthusiasts. However, the crowds and intensity of the celebration may not be suitable for everyone. For some, the crowd and noise can be overwhelming.

Therefore, if you’re considering attending the Barranquilla Carnival, be prepared for the experience.


Barranquijazz is a jazz and Latin music festival held annually in Barranquilla. It is considered the most important jazz festival in the Colombian Caribbean and one of the most prestigious in Latin America.

The festival, which typically takes place in September and lasts for five days, brings together national and international artists from various musical genres such as son, salsa, bolero, blues, and bebop.

In addition to enjoying the music, visitors can participate in cultural activities like workshops, lectures, and thematic exhibitions covering jazz and other genres. The festival has featured performances by renowned artists such as Eddie Palmieri, Chucho Valdés, Rubén Blades, Herbie Hancock, among others.


The festival typically organizes its events at various locations in the city, including:

  • Jumbo Country Club Hall, located within the Barranquilla Country Club.
  • José Consuegra Higgins Theater at Simón Bolívar University.
  • Plaza de la Paz, in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Barranquilla.
  • Parque Cultural del Caribe, located in the Historic Center of Barranquilla.

However, it also has events organized in numerous other places in the city. We recommend visiting the official website to stay updated on any changes.

Cultural Activities

  • Screening of documentaries related to jazz and Latin music.
  • Forums and discussions with cultural figures such as journalists, critics, musicians, producers, etc., addressing topics of interest to jazz and Latin music enthusiasts.
  • Talks with participating artists, where they share their experiences, anecdotes, influences, techniques, and tips with attendees.
  • Exhibitions of artwork related to jazz and Latin music (paintings, photographs, sculptures) by invited local artists.
  • Workshops and masterclasses on jazz and Latin music, taught by renowned national and international instructors.
  • Concerts in public and private spaces, such as parks, squares, shopping centers, universities, etc., featuring groups and artists from different genres.
  • Night jam sessions in bars and restaurants in the city, where invited musicians gather to improvise.
  • Jazz and Latin music contests for established or emerging artists/groups.

Free Admission?

No, Barranquijazz is not free; it has a per-person cost that varies depending on the type of event and location. Generally, the most prominent events of the festival featuring renowned artists require tickets.


Approximately 20 thousand attendees, including those who attend ticketed and free functions in each edition.

Why Should You Attend Barranquijazz?

For several days, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to renowned local and international musicians in different tourist and cultural spaces in the city. You’ll discover new talents, explore different genres and subgenres of jazz, and engage in various workshops with legendary figures in jazz and Latin music.

Sabor Barranquilla

Sabor Barranquilla is a gastronomic festival held every year for 4 days in August, aiming to promote the cuisine and culinary culture of the Colombian Caribbean.

In this festival, national and international chefs, traditional cooks, restaurant chains, producers, entrepreneurs, and academics, among other gastronomic professionals, come together. The festival offers a diverse agenda of activities, including workshops, conferences, tastings, contests, and exhibitions, allowing visitors to explore and enjoy the flavors of the Caribbean region.

Check out the program of Sabor Barranquilla.


Puerta de Oro, Centro de Eventos del Caribe, Vía 40 No. 79B-06, near the Magdalena River, Barranquilla, Atlántico.

Cultural Activities

  • Cooking workshops with guest chefs, where attendees learn recipes and techniques of Caribbean gastronomy.
  • Conferences and discussions on topics related to culinary culture, history, identity, and gastronomic innovation.
  • Tastings of typical dishes, local products, beverages, and desserts from both the Caribbean region and the country.
  • Witness cooking contests where creativity, flavor, and presentation are awarded.
  • Explore exhibitions of art, photography, crafts, and literature related to gastronomy and the Caribbean.
  • Gastronomic routes through the city, visiting restaurants, markets, squares, and other emblematic places of Barranquilla’s cuisine.
  • Displays and exhibitions of international cuisine from the countries invited to the festival.
  • Meetings with traditional cooks, matrons, and food artisans who share their knowledge and culinary experiences.
  • Commercial fairs showcasing and selling products, services, and supplies related to gastronomy.
  • Participation in academic spaces, including courses, diplomas, seminars, and other training and research activities.


Approximately 25,000 attendees per edition.

Free Admission?

No, access to the festival has a per-person cost, and there are also group combos.

Why Should You Attend Sabor Barranquilla?

It’s an opportunity to discover the diversity and gastronomic richness of this Caribbean city. During the event, you can taste a wide range of typical dishes prepared by renowned chefs from both local and international origins.

National Photography Contest in Barranquilla

The National Photography Contest aims to promote and disseminate the cultural and heritage richness of the Barranquilla Carnival, one of Colombia’s most important celebrations.

The contest invites photographers, both amateurs and professionals from around the world, to capture with their lenses the best moments and protagonists of this Caribbean celebration.

Participants submit their images, and the jury selects the 24 best photographs, with 12 illustrating the official Carnival calendar.

Winners receive cash prizes and public recognition, and their works are exhibited in an exhibition held in Barranquilla.


  • The official exhibition of photographs is generally held at the Museo del Carnaval, located at Carrera 50 No 42-125, in the Historic Center of the city.

Cultural Activities

  • Attend the opening of the exhibition of the 24 best photographs.
  • Exhibition of photographs in different public spaces in the city, such as parks, squares, and shopping centers, available throughout the year.
  • Guided tour of the Museo del Carnaval, where you can learn about the history, characters, symbols, and artistic expressions of the Barranquilla Carnival.
  • Photography workshop teaching techniques, tips, and tricks for capturing images and improving photographic skills.
  • You can participate in the call to submit the best Carnival photographs, which must be original, unpublished, and taken with mid-range or higher cameras.
  • Awarding of the contest winners, who receive the honor of illustrating the official Carnival calendar.

Free Admission?

Yes, both attendance and participation in this event are free. To participate, you only need to register in advance through the official carnival website in the calls module and stay informed about updates.

Why should you attend the Barranquilla National Photography Contest?

It’s an opportunity to showcase the most emblematic carnival in the Caribbean region. By participating, you can submit your best works for consideration by a jury and win valuable prizes, including several million pesos.

Moreover, it’s a space where you’ll explore different artistic and cultural expressions through the photographic lens and the city’s most emblematic scenarios.

International Film Festival on the Streets (FICICA)

The International Film Festival on the Streets is an annual outdoor film festival held in Barranquilla. It aims to promote cinematic culture and free access to enjoy different genres from around the world, exploring various audiovisual expressions.

The festival offers visitors a varied schedule of screenings with short films, feature films, documentaries, animations, music videos, conferences, and training workshops with the creators of audiovisual projections.

The Barranquilla Street Cinema Festival is generally celebrated in August for 4 to 5 days. It provides a perfect atmosphere within community spaces where locals and visitors can enjoy cultural cinema.


In various public sites within the Historic Center of Barranquilla, such as the Parque Cultural del Caribe, Parque Suri Salcedo, and Paseo Bolívar. However, this festival also reaches other parks and neighborhoods in the city, especially outdoor locations.

Cultural Activities

  • Enjoy the screening of films of different genres and countries that reflect the diversity of independent cinema.
  • Free film workshops for children, youth, and adults covering topics such as scriptwriting, direction, production, photography, animation, and editing.
  • Participate in conferences and talks with producers and actors from the works screened in the festival, sharing their experiences, creative processes, and opinions about cinema.
  • Delight in contests by categories, such as short films, cell phone-made films, 48-hour films, creativity, among others.
  • Cinema by the River, where an audiovisual projection takes place, allowing attendees to enjoy cinema from a boat on the Magdalena River.
  • Take advantage of free short film screenings from the official website.

Free Admission?

Yes, access to this festival is free for all types of audiences.


Over 50 thousand spectators per edition.

Why Should You Attend the International Film Festival on the Streets in Barranquilla?

You’ll be able to enjoy a wide variety of short films from different genres, countries, and styles.

Moreover, you can participate in free academic activities, such as talks, laboratories, and workshops, where you’ll learn about the art and technique of cinema while meeting and interacting with authentic filmmakers and producers in the audiovisual sector.


Expodrinks is an event that brings together enthusiasts of beverages and gastronomy. Visitors can taste wines, spirits, cocktails, beers, and gourmet foods, both local and from different countries.

Above all, the event seeks to highlight products made from typical ingredients of the Caribbean region, mainly its fruits and other typical ingredients.

The event lasts for three days, generally taking place in September, and offers a varied agenda of activities such as tastings, conferences, culinary experiences, and a trade show with more than 300 brands.

Expodrinks is an opportunity to learn about the latest trends in the gastronomic sector, especially in the “beverages” sector, learn from experts, make business contacts, and enjoy a different plan with friends or family.

Learn more about the programming of Expodrinks Barranquilla.

Expodrinks Cultural Activities

  • Visitors can sample different liquors and beverages (coffee, cocktails, beers, chocolate, and more) and learn about their characteristics, pairings, and consumption methods.
  • Conferences with experts on the history, production, quality, innovation, and trends of products exhibited at the fair.
  • Live music with artists and groups performing various genres and rhythms.
  • Segmented spaces where attendees enjoy a variety of experiences and national and international products (wine area, liquor area, coffee area, Delifood area, beer area, Pisco, tastings, among others).
  • Visitors can purchase products through virtual platforms with exclusive offers.
  • Participation in draws and raffles that give you the opportunity to win prizes such as bottles, baskets, tickets, vouchers, and more.
  • Visitors can watch the classic “bartender show” where performers showcase acrobatics and juggling with bottles, glasses, and shakers while preparing delicious drinks.
  • Photographic exhibitions showcasing images portraying the cultural diversity of beverage-producing countries such as Peru, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia.

Free Admission?

  • No, there is a cost to access this event.
  • Only individuals aged 18 and older are allowed.


Over 10,000 attendees, including locals and visitors, for each edition.

Why Should You Attend Expodrinks Festival in Barranquilla?

This event is an opportunity to learn and taste the best beverages from around the world and the Caribbean region. Here, you’ll explore the latest products from distilleries, breweries, sodas, among others, and familiarize yourself with machinery and production processes.

Moreover, the most popular or “trendy” beverages in the Caribbean region, such as the mojito, coconut cocktail, iconic rum, or piña colada, can all be found in one place.

Carnival of the Arts

The Carnival of the Arts in Barranquilla is an annual cultural event held since 2007. Its goal is to promote and disseminate artistic expressions from the Caribbean and the world through more than 60 activities, including literature, journalism, talks, workshops, concerts, exhibitions, cinema, and theater.

It takes place in February or March, a few days before the famous Barranquilla Carnival, and lasts for four days. It’s one of the country’s most important cultural events and has featured renowned national and international artists such as Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Vives, Fernando Botero, Rubén Blades, and Shakira.


This carnival usually takes place in the Historic Center of the city, in locations like the Parque Cultural del Caribe, Plaza de la Aduana, Teatro de la Universidad del Atlántico, and the Biblioteca Piloto del Caribe.

Additionally, it is also held in many other public sites in the city.

Cultural Activities

  • Master lectures with writers, researchers, and journalists from Latin America, addressing topics in literature, journalism, poetry, science fiction, and Afro-Caribbean culture.
  • Dialogues with artists from different genres, including music, dance, theater, cinema, plastic and visual arts.
  • Book and magazine launches by local, national, and international authors, with presentations and expert comments.
  • Audiovisual screenings of films, documentaries, and short films related to the Caribbean and the world, with the presence of directors, producers, and invited actors.
  • Art exhibitions by painters, sculptors, photographers, and urban artists, featuring works representing the Caribbean region.
  • Musical concerts of salsa, vallenato, cumbia, champeta with national and international artists.
  • Folk and contemporary dance performances.
  • Street and indoor theater performances with works by local, national, and international playwrights.
  • Participation in tributes to prominent personalities of the Caribbean, such as writers, musicians, painters, and journalists.
  • Areas with stands featuring local and national gastronomy.


Approximately between 15,000 and 20,000 per day, for each edition.

Free Admission?

Yes, the carnival has free access to all activities. However, some activities may have limited space or require prior registration, so it’s recommended to check the schedule on the official page.

Why Should You Attend the Carnival of the Arts in Barranquilla?

It’s an event where you can get to know and enjoy the diversity of the Caribbean. In this carnival, you’ll interact with renowned national and international artists from all disciplines of art, learn about their works and stories, and connect with local and international culture.

More about events and celebrations in Colombia


About Author



Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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