If you’re into festivals, flowers, and some fun, Medellín’s Feria de las Flores — literally the ‘Festival of Flowers’ — is not to be missed. The 10-day celebration kicks off at the beginning of August (to coincide with Antioquia’s independence) and is the most important event in the city, attracting people from not just all over Colombia, but from around the world. It’s the perfect way to get a sense of the rich culture of the department.
The event first began in 1957 as a way to recognize the thriving flower business in the Medellín area, including flower expositions, music and dancing, and a small parade. The region is still a hotspot for worldwide flower production and the festival has grown each year, increasing in duration from 5 days to the current 10 days and adding a variety of exciting events, most of which are free.
Feria de las Flores Events
The festival begins with an inauguration at the Sector Obelisco. The remainder of events, however, take place all over the city, including Parque Norte, Santa Elena, Jardín Botánico, and Ciudad del Rio. While there are literally hundreds of events, we’ll look at a handful of the most popular ones.
La Plaza de Flores is a parade that includes gorgeous flower arrangements, dancing, and, of course, music and concerts. The location of the parade varies throughout the festival, so it’s best to check the official schedule to know where to find it and when.
Desfile de Autos Clasicos y Antiguos is another festival highlight and one of the ‘big three’ events, offering a unique kind of tour through the history of Colombia. The parade sees classic cars from as early as the 1920s move through the streets, accompanied by people dressed in clothing from that time period. It attracts about a million people every year, so arrive early to stake out a good spot!
The flower exposition takes place in the Botanic Gardens, naturally. Already one of the most beautiful areas in Medellín, the gardens take it up a notch with the addition of various flower and arts and crafts exhibits. Flower enthusiasts can look forward to seeing many of the over 3,000 different plant species represented in the festival.
The most talked about event, though, is the finale — the Desfile de Silleteros, also known as the flower parade — that happens in mid-afternoon on the last day of the festival. Historically, silleteros carried these chair-like devices on their backs to transport the sick and elderly. Today, though, participants ranging from children to seniors carry incredible flower structures that celebrate Colombia’s world-renowned flower industry. The first festival had just 40 parade participants, a number that’s grown to over 500. This event requires tickets, and they usually sell out.
Things to Know
Most of the Feria de las Flores events are outdoors, and it can get hot and crowded. While there are many vendors selling drinks and food (including, of course arepas!), it’s a good idea to hydrate well before leaving your home or hotel and bring a water bottle with you.
The sheer number of people that the festival attracts means that streets are busy, and there are often closures. Medellín has a good public transportation system and most events are accessible this way.
Travelers with children should note that some events prohibit kids under the age of 7 from attending. While the festival as a whole is certainly appropriate for children, the large crowds at certain events pose a safety risk. Festival organizers recommend keeping this in mind during trip planning.