Medellín’s biggest annual festival starts later this month on July 29. La Feria de Las Flores 2016 (Festival of Flowers) runs from July 29 – August 7. 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.
There are also some pre-events that already started on July 17. More pre-events will be held each day until La Feria de Las Flores 2016 officially starts on July 29.
This year for La Feria de Las Flores 2016 there are a total of 118 different events as well as 400 public and private activities.
I’ve had the opportunity to attend the event the last four years and several years before that. The atmosphere is a lot of fun. Writing about it has me looking forward to seeing some of the events during the event.
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.
Saturday, August 6 – Classic Car Parade (Desfile de Autos Clasicos)
Over one million people are expected to see the Desfile de Autos Clasicos this year.
Parade Route: The route this year is very long and starts at the El Colombiano building along Avenida Regional. It runs south through El Poblado, Envigado and Sabaneta and returns to Universidad EAFIT in El Poblado for the end of the parade.
The map of the route can be found here.
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 car 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. I then walk along the parade route to find a good place to watch with fewer people.
But since the route this year runs all the way south to Sabaneta where I now live I may find a location this year along Avenida Las Vegas.
Saturday, August 6 – Metro Feria de Las Flores Concert
The concert this year for La Feria de Las Flores 2016 is headlined by Marc Anthony along with Carlos Vives, Silvestre Dangong, Nicky Jam and Felipe Peláez. This year is the second year in a row with Marc Anthony as the concert headliner.
The show is being held at the Estadio Atanasio Girardot sports stadium in Estadio. It is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. but keep in mind concerts in Colombia typically start late.
Expat Tip: Buy the more expensive “Platino” tickets and arrive earlier than normal. You’ll get in faster (possibly saving an hour of waiting in line).
Big concerts in Colombia are not always well-organized. I have found out from going to several. The most impressive I have been to was seeing Shakira in Barranquilla.
Sunday, August 7 – Flower Parade (Desfile de Silleteros)
Parade Route: The route for Desfile de Silleteros this year is very different than previous years.
The parade will be held along a 1.5 km route on the Guayabal Avenue corridor north to south, to Plaza Gardel, between the Olaya Herrera airport and the South Transportation Terminal. A map is found here.
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 60s and even older can be seen carrying the flowers. This year there will be a total of 500 silleteros in the parade.
There are bleachers along one side of the parade route were you can buy tickets for seats, otherwise you will need to stand.
Tickets for the Flower Parade normally go on sale towards the end of July before the start of Feria de las Flores.
Last year tickets for the bleachers were sold at Tu Boleta stores and the cost was 77,000 pesos ($26) each with a maximum of two tickets per person. Tickets sold out very fast last year. Tickets this year cost 75,000 pesos including the ticket service charge at TicketExpress.
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 need a ticket, as I was able to get a press pass as a writer for the Medellín Living website. This permitted me to even get on the street with the parade to take some good photos.
In 2014, I didn’t buy a ticket in advance. I walked along the parade route. Near one of the stands I saw tickets being sold and only paid a few dollars over the face value.
In 2014, I arrived about 90 minutes before the parade started. I 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.
Why do your highlights start Aug. 6? I’d like recommendations of the best things to attend starting today, July 30 until Tuesday, Aug 2. That’s all the time I have. I found the PDF schedule of all events, as well as the online calendar of events. It’s all very confusing.
The best events that are highlights not to miss are at the end of Feria de Las Flores each year.
But there are over 100 smaller events and hundreds of public and private activities which can been seen in the link to the full schedule above (in Spanish). For example today is the Flower Parade for kids (Desfile Infantil de Silleteritos) at 10am to 1pm.
hello Jeff, i too am interested in things to see all week. is there any place the calendar of events is in english? thank you, Joei
Sorry, unfortunately I haven’t seen the calendar of events in English.
When I went to the Mayors office on Friday to pick up a press pass to Feria de Las Flores I asked and nobody was aware of there being a calendar of events in English.
oh i see. . ok thank you so much for your response 🙂
This article was helpful–I appreciate the expat tips! But yes, it doesn’t say anything about the many, many other events that are happening throughout the week. Here is a guide (in English) for this year’s events that includes a few more: http://www.colombiaimmersion.com/2016/08/02/feria-de-las-flores-guide-2016/
There are always a lot (dozens? hundreds?) of minor events related to La Feria each year, but I personally haven’t found most of them worth attending. In 2013, we had a contributor purposefully check some of them out and report for everyone here. She came to the same conclusion. You can see her thoughts at http://medellinliving.com/la-feria-de-las-flores/
Thanks for that link– really well done article! I should have known you guys would have done an awesome (and hilarious) write up on this, but somehow hadn’t seen it earlier. Thanks for passing along!
For future years DO NOT BUY PALCO TICKETS for the parade. We bought them from “Turismo en Medellin”. The palco was very crowded (shoulder to shoulder with the people by you and no room between your knees and the back of the person in front of you) , very hot. It seems they oversold the tickets so people sat on the access stairs; luckily there was not an emergency. It is better to get there early, pick up a spot by the curb, bring an umbrella, water and snacks.