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Carnival Activities
The Barranquilla Carnival starts off with the Pre-Carnival, during which activities like the following are carried out:


Reading of the edict

Dancing and "cumbia festival" 

Carnival music and its roots

Crowning of the Carnival Queen

Crowning of the People's  Queen and the Carnival King

Children's Carnival Procession

The festival is launched with the traditional reading of the edict, in which the government, the chairman of the Carnival Board and the Carnival Queen all participate. 

Every Friday of this season is a Carnival Friday, during which the Queen participates in parties, dances and people’s street festivities. 

Carnival Schedule
The following events are planned for the Barranquilla Carnival:


Flower Battle

Parade of the Carnival King

Great Traditional Parade

Great Fantasy Parade

Festival of the Orchestras 

Festival of Courting and Special Dances, Comedies and Litanies

Joselito is departing with the ashes

Forty days before Holy Week, Barranquilla, capital of Atlántico Department, decks itself out to receive national and foreign tourists who, attracted by the fame of its festival, join together with the city’s inhabitants to enjoy four days of the country’s most important folklore celebration.  

During this period, the Carnival Queen presides over the different festivities until Tuesday, when the symbolic burial of Joselito Carnival brings the celebration to an end and announces the preparations for the next year’s Carnival.   

Barranquilla’s inhabitants, irrespective of race or creed, join together to make the Carnival.  For them, what is important is to dance and enjoy themselves for four days and then prepare for the following year’s celebration.  

History of the Carnival
Its history has been passed down from father to son to keep its roots from being lost in the mists of time.  It is said that the Spaniards brought with them the tradition of celebrating the European carnival.  This, the slaves in Barranquilla combined with their own traditions, by taking to the streets on the cited dates, dressed in typical garb, singing, dancing and playing their instruments. 

More recent tales tell that toward the year 1903, General Carajo proclaimed himself President and started dancing in Ancha Street; in 1918, the first Carnival Queen was chosen and enjoyed her crowning amid the rhythm of waltzes, "pasillos," champagne and Scotch, in a private club in the city, while the general public gathered in the well-known  "salones burreros" or "corralejas" set up in the streets to the accompaniment of the native "cumbia" dance, drums, bagpipes and white rum. 

In 1921, the young people protested over the separate organization and decided to join the general public and make it a single festival.  

From then on, the "cumbias" and other dances, parades and costumes have taken on different expressions reflecting the people’s creativeness. 

Points on the Route
Flower Battle
The Carnival starts with the Flower Battle, initially organized to replace the bullets of war with flowers of peace, and today considered one of the main activities. 

It takes place during the Queen’s parade in which the carriages and floats of the club leaders advance amid their groups of "cumbia" dancers. 

Great Parade
The Great Parade swings through the city streets on Carnival Sunday while the judges stand by to choose the best dancers and costumes.  

The imagination of the Barranquilla dwellers reaches its maximum expression during the Great Parade, in the dances of the different Carnival clubs, as influenced by their African origin.  The best known dances are those of the "Torito," or little bull, and the "Diablo," or Devil, in which multihued animal masks fashioned from wood and painted in tones of black, red, white and yellow keep pace to the beating of the drums.  

Dances of the Congo
These dances have been passed down as the symbol of the Carnival, conserving the African tradition in their movements, which narrate the history of their black forefathers in Africa, the sad memory of their slavery in America and its subsequent abolition. 

Burial of Joselito Carnival
As the story goes, Joselito was a coach driver in the city who worked unceasingly, enjoying himself only on Tuesdays.    

One day, he drank more that he was accustomed to and fell asleep in his coach.  Carnival merry makers passing by jeered at his drunken state.  In their euphoria, they decided to take poor Joselito in his own carriage to the cemetery, while men and women formed a funeral cortege, crying and lamenting the death of the coachman with phrases such as "Joselito has died, oh! Joselito! Why have you died? Why have you left us, Joselito?"  These lamentations, year after year, announce the end of the Carnival.

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