The flower festival Feria De Las Flores is one of the most eagerly awaited and important social events of the year in Colombia.
The festival takes place in Medellin, the second largest city in the country, which is transformed into an exposition of bright flowers and flower sculptures in the month of August. This parade is recognised as a cultural heritage of Colombia.
History of Festival of the Flowers
The first flower festival was held on May 1st 1957 and lasted five days. It was Arturo Uribe, a member of the tourist bureau for Medellin who had the idea that the city of Medellin should host a tribute to the thriving Colombian flower industry.
The flowers were displayed in the Metropolitan Cathedral to celebrate the Virgin Mary day. The parade of the flowers represents the end to slavery, when slaves carried men and women up steep hills on their backs.
Activities and entertainment included dancing stalls and various parades – the silleteros parade is when the flower vendors carry the extravagant flower arrangments through the Medellin’s streets. Silleteros are the farmers who make the flower arrangements on a ‘silleta’ – the contraption for carrying the flowers on a person’s back.
Each year, men, women and children proudly carry the flowers of their history, land and culture on their backs.
The Festival of the Flowers
This festival of flowers lasts ten days and offers visitors over 140 cultural, traditional, and modern events: a horse fair, a trail ride through town on horses, orchid competitions, orchestra festival, the National Trova Festival (singers duels improvised verses), an antiques cars parade, popular/folk music concerts, activities for children, a dog walk and the festival of remembrance.
The city truly comes alive as it displays its heritage in the brilliant coloured flowers that grow in the countryside. During the week is a fireworks show that begins and ends the festival. There are many options for tourists and international travellers.
Interesting facts about Festival of the Flowers
- A silleta can weigh up to 70kg
- There are more than 25 types of flowers used to make the silleta
- Main flowers used are lilies, sunflowers, carnations, agapanthuses, pinocchios, chrysanthemums and roses
- The original event also included musical celebrations, dancing as well as beauty pageants, custom carriages and horses
Where to stay in Medellin
Colombia tourism has much to offer travellers, and if you are there for the festival you will at least want to stay for the food too. There are many places to stay (for any budget) including the Grand Hotel located in downtown Medellin, the Diez Hotel close to the financial hub or Hotel Cabo de la Vela.
If you want to be close to the centre of Medellin near the parks, buildings and museums you might want to stay at the Hotel Botero Plaza.