Well, it’s been a busy old week in Medellín but I’m back in Bogotá having spent yesterday recovering. If you didn’t know, last week was Medellín’s annual Fería de Las Flores, the city’s biggest festival of the year and one of the biggest festivals in Colombia (behind the Carnival of Barranquilla). Couple that with the excitement of the FIFA u20s World Cup in Colombia and you’ve got yourself a city full of high spirits and aguardiente.
A Little History
The very first Fería de Las Flores took place in 1956 and lasted for 5 days. It was organised by Colombia’s tourist board as an attempt to both draw tourists to Colombia and to celebrate the end of slavery. This celebration is represented by the elaborate flower displays that are carried on the backs of the silleteros, who were once made to carry men and women on their back up steep hills.
Today the festival incorporates a lot more, including horse-shows, classic car shows, even more flower shows, concerts and aguardiente.
Being my first Fería de Las Flores I didn’t know what to expect, but I arrived with high expectations as I’d heard Chocquibtown were playing for free the day I arrived. Needless to say I went to see them, had a great time and drank plenty of aguardiente. The best thing, however, was that this concert wasn’t an isolated instance of free concerts. In fact, throughout the city concerts took place playing many different types of music.
Aside from the fiestas, the main parades were saved for the final weekend, where on Saturday the classic car show took place. Thousands of eager onlookers took to the streets, drinking aguardiente and cheering every time a car drove past. Special cheers were reserved for those that have served Colombia: soldiers, firemen, policemen.
Sunday saw the main event: the walk of the silleteros. A parade of men and women struggling with incredibly large and intricate flower arrangements walked past as the massive crowd cheered, slugged at their bottles of aguardiente and generally enjoyed the atmosphere.
Night times throughout the week were always full with great options. The popular Parque Lleras provided a haven for people on the normally quiet nights of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, while at the weekend the fashionable elites headed to the clubs found at La Strada and those in search of an authentic Colombian night wandered through La 70a, a street full of vallenato and salsa joints. Oh, and aguardiente.
All in all a great week in Medellín and, if you missed it, one you should look out for next year.