Desfile A Caballo: The 25th Annual Horse Parade

Desfile a Caballo
Start of 25th annual El Desfile a Caballo in Medellin, Colombia
At the start of 25th annual El Desfile a Caballo in Medellin, Colombia.

Every year, El Desfile A Caballo (Horse Parade) helps kick off La Feria de las Flores in Medellin.

My first horse parade was in 2010, and I had no idea what was going on, but I loved the atmosphere.

6,000 horses were walking through the streets, while thousands of Colombians and curious tourists partied and looked on along the parade route.

Getting into the action at the Medellin Cabalgata.
Getting into the action at Medellin's annual Cabalgata.

This year, I knew what to expect, and met up with Troy and Marcello at the Aguacatala metro station, near the start (and end) of the parade route.

I was retracing my steps from 2010, except this time, I was almost immediately propositioned to mount a horse. Troy and Marcello egged me on, and eventually I climbed into the saddle, to the delight of the mostly Colombian crowd.

I’ve been horseback riding a few times in Colombia, including to La Cueva del Esplendor in Jardin earlier this year, but this was different. I felt like everyone was watching…and they were!

There aren’t a lot of gringos who mount up for El Desfile A Caballo.

La Cabalgata
La Cabalgata features plenty of paisa women, in addition to the men.

After a few minutes turning the horse in circles, I dismounted and thanked the man for offering me a ride.

We then continued to trace the parade route, stopping from time to time to drink a beer, eat some empanadas, and snap some photos.

I kept a tight grip on my camera the whole time, considering my Blackberry had been stolen by a pickpocket at last year’s horse parade.

Pretty paisas on horseback
There were enough pretty paisas on horseback to keep any guy's attention.

We walked as far north as the Poblado metro station over the course of 2-3 hours.

I was feeling tired pretty early, so I walked home from there, leaving Marcello and Troy to continue enjoying the one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

Mango's Discoteca
In addition to the horses, there are floats as well, like this one featuring the little people of Mango's Discoteca.
Colombian soldiers patrol the area
Colombian soldiers patrol the area, ensuring everyone can enjoy the parade, and cotton candy.
A group of men rock out along the parade route
A group of Colombian men rock out along the parade route.
The traditional vueltiao hats are a national symbol of Colombia
During La Feria de las Flores, paisas wear traditional woven vueltiao hats, a national symbol of Colombia.
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  1. Great post and wonderful pictures. Seeing this makes me want to come visit Medellin so bad. I understand the weather is pretty much the same year around. Is it best to visit this time of year because of the festivial? Here in Los Angeles its super hot so I wouldnt mind getting around from the heat for a while.

    • Hola Trey, glad you liked the pics. The two best times of year to visit Medellin are late July/early August for the Flower Festival, and the month of December, when the city is decorated with millions (seriously) of Christmas lights, and everyone is in a festive (ie. party) mood. If I had to pick between the two, I’d recommend December as the best time to visit Medellin. In addition to the atmosphere, it’s the start of Summer, and one of the driest months of the year.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. I love going to romerias and fairs here, and some of these pictures remind me of fiestas in Tenerife. There are so many links between the islands and South America that isn’t surprising.

    I also love (yes I’ll say it again) what you are doing for the reputation of Colombia, and Medellín especially with your stories. What you portray is a warm country rich in history, and not the image we get from movies, or indeed from documentaries. Only last week Spanish TV showed a docu about “typical life” for young folk in Medellín and it was the usual – if you don’t belong to a gang either you’re a nobody or they’ll get you. I was so happy that I knew a different side to the country from reading your blog.

  3. You look pretty good on that mule, Dave! Hoping to catch this parade next year, when our snail-slow Trans-Americas Journey road trip (200,000 miles/North, Central + South America) finally makes it that far south!

    Thanks for posting this kick in the pants.