Medellín’s biggest annual festival has already started, but the most significant events are later in the week. The 2015 Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers) runs from July 31 – August 9. The entire schedule can be found here.
The 10-day festival is a celebration of paisa culture, and this year’s schedule is packed with tons of events, big and small.
I’ve had the chance to attend the last three years and several years before that, and the atmosphere is a lot of fun. Just writing about it has me looking forward to seeing some of the events during the week.
Below, I’m going to share the highlights of this year’s festival, as well as some tips so you can relax and enjoy each event.
Thursday, August 6 – Metro Feria de Las Flores Concert
The concert this year is headlined by Marc Anthony along with Carlos Vives, Wisin y Maluma. The show is being held at the Envigado South sports stadium and starts at 8 p.m.
Expat Tip: Buy the more expensive “Platino” tickets, and arrive a lot earlier than normal. You’ll get in faster (possibly saving an hour or two of waiting in line), and you’ll have a better view of the stage.
Big concerts in Colombia are not always well-organized, as I have found out from going to several (the most impressive I have been to was seeing Shakira in Barranquilla).
Friday, August 7 – Classic Car Parade (Desfile de Autos Clasicos)
Parade Route: The route starts at the El Colombiano building along Avenida Regional to Calle 29 Sur to Las Vegas to the Envigado bridge to Calle 46A Sur to the Bancolombia headquarters building.
Arriving at Calle 44 San Juan to the roundabout of Avenida Ferrocarril and taking the south direction to go up the bridge of Avenida Guayabal. Take the exit before the bridge to the highway until you reach Aguacatala and then Avenida Regional to enter Universidad EAFIT, which is at the end of the parade.
Paisas have some very old cars that are in excellent condition. Every year, they dust the cars off and dress up in period costumes to go for a drive in the classic car parade.
In addition to the classics, you’ll find everything from decorated dump trucks to fire engines in this parade.
Expat Tip: The largest gatherings of people along the parade route typically occur near the metro stops, such as the Industriales Metro station near the Bancolombia headquarters. The further away you walk from the metro station, the fewer the people, and the better your view.
I typically take the Metro to the Industriales Metro station and walk along the parade route to find a good place to watch with fewer people.
Sunday, August 9 – Flower Parade (Desfile de Silleteros)
Parade Route: Avenida Regional, Edificio EPM, San Juan, Avenida del Ferrocarril, Plaza Mayor and arriving at Teatro Metropolitano. In total this year the route is 2.4 kilometers long. A map is found here.
This year in the flower parade there will be 420 adults, 30 children aged seven to 12 and 50 teenagers aged 13 to 17.
Ticket Sales: Sold at Tu Boleta stores (list is found here)
Cost: 77,000 pesos ($27). Maximum two tickets per person. Unfortunately, only 6,000 tickets are available for sale.
If you attend no other event during La Feria de las Flores, attend the Flower Parade.
It’s a one of a kind parade where paisas of all ages carry flower displays on their backs, for hours. Everyone from little kids to women and men in their 50s and 60s can be seen carrying the flowers.
The flower arrangements are made in the nearby pueblo of Santa Elena and entered in a competition in various categories. There are a plenty of commercial displays too, which are advertisements made of flowers!
Expat Tip: More than any other parade, the crowds gather in mass for the Flower Parade. Either arrive at your spot along the route hours in advance or buy a ticket to enter the side of the street with bleachers. Even with a ticket, you’ll need to arrive early if you want to get a good seat in the bleachers.
Last year I didn’t buy a ticket in advance. I walked along the parade route and near one of the stands I saw tickets being sold and only paid a few dollars over face value.
I arrived about 90 minutes before the parade started and was able to get a good seat in the stands with an excellent view of the parade. Plus there were vendors in the stands that were conveniently selling drinks and food.