Colombia has an enviable calendar of 18 public holidays per year. Twelve of these are religious based celebrations, such as Easter, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Christmas Day. The rest are civic holidays, like Independence Day (July 20), the Battle of Boyacá (August 7), and Labor Day (May 1). Besides the generous helping of days off for workers and students, Colombia also hosts a number of yearly festivals that range from cultural events and solemn ceremonies to lively fiestas that attract excited revelers and inspire rousing party atmospheres. Some Colombian traditions attract thousands of visitors each year.
New Year’s Eve is a night for getting together with family and going out with friends. It is also a night for superstitious activities thought to guarantee a positive new year, such as eating twelve grapes at midnight or running around the block with a suitcase in hand (to ensure the year is full of traveling). On El día de las velitas (Day of the candles, January 7) Colombian residents place candles on their balconies or in front of the home while scenic displays of candles are exhibited, often touristic areas such as Bogotá’s Plaza Simon Bolivar.
Bogotá’s annual Book Fair, its biennial Theatre Festival, and Medellín’s Summertime Flower Fair are all popular events. Colombia is also home to vibrant Semana Santa (Holy Week) festivities, particularly in Popayán, where musicians, performers, elaborate processions, and inspired observers come together in March or April. The carnival festival held each year in Barranquilla is hailed as the world’s second largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro’s in Brazil, and the city even designates two extra holidays for the exciting event.
These are just a few of Colombia’s holidays and festivals. Check out some the articles in this section to find out more about Colombian holiday traditions.