Heritage of Humanity: Colombia's Carnaval

BARRANQUILLA, Colombia – The transformation of Barranquilla, Colombia into it’s annual Carnaval begins the second Christmas ends.

It draws 1.5 million people to the coastal city and its the country's biggest celebration. The tradition takes places across the Caribbean coast, and Colombia is second to only Rio, Brazil. Coastal rhythms, street food and intricate costumes overtake the city every year.

But for the country’s indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations, groups that are facing waves of targeted threats and violence, it’s become a way to celebrating their endangered cultures.

Megan Janetsky/VICE

Performers clad in royal blue feathers dance in unison in a stretching line.   ···  
A "Palenquera" performer rests on the side of a street in Barranquilla, Colombia. The Palenqueras encapsulate a crucial part of Colombian culture on the country's coast.   ···  
A Colombia Carnaval performer coated in fire decorations and carrying a sun staff poses for a portrait.   ···  
A pair dances under the rainbow streamers set up near the Magdalena River, a key site in Colombian coast folklore.   ···  
A young women dances alone on the side of a street full of dancers.   ···  
An Afro-Colombian dancer performs one of Carnaval Barranaquillas 13 traditional dances.   ···  
Spectators dressed in Carnaval garb scale tropical trees to get a good view of one of the many parades that overtake Barranquilla's streets.   ···  
Before and during Colombia's Carnaval celebration Barranquilleros cook traditional coastal food to sell on the streets, often sitting outside and enjoying the nights with neighbors.   ···  
Street vendors prepare Colombian "tamals," corn dough packed with meat and vegetables and wrapped in banana leaves. Vendors take to the streets and begin selling traditional coastal food weeks before Carnaval begins.   ···  
Characters perform Carnaval's "El Son De Negro" dance, which has drawn fire from activist organizations who say it perpetuates Afro-Colombian stereotypes.   ···  
A musician beats an African drum in a steady rhythm. African instruments are at the core of much of Carnaval's music.   ···  
Hundreds wearing hats traditional to the Colombian coast and green patterned shirts mill through Barranquilla's main road in a pack.   ···  
Rows of dancers perform in one of many of the Barranquilla, Colombia's Carnaval parades. The dances tell different stories of Colombian heritage.   ···  
A couple dances cumbia at one of Colombia Carnaval's smaller events, Carnavalada, where traditional music drifts over crowds of dancers and street vendors.   ···  
Young women sporting neon colors and flowers dance to reggaeton music blasting from a passing-by float.   ···  
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