Heritage of Humanity: Colombia's Carnaval

BARRANQUILLA, Colombia – The transformation of Barranquilla, Colombia into its 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 AfroColombian populations – groups that have been historically marginalized – it’s become a way to grapple with Colombia's complicated history of racism and discrimination, and preserve their cultural traditions.

Megan Janetsky/VICE

A Colombia Carnaval performer coated in fire decorations and carrying a sun staff poses for a portrait.   ···  
Hundreds wearing hats traditional to the Colombian coast and green patterned shirts mill through Barranquilla's main road in a pack.   ···  
Performers dance during Carnaval's Batalla de Flores parade in Barranquilla, Colombia, 2020.   ···  
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.   ···  
Characters perform Carnaval's "El Son De Negro" dance, which has drawn fire from activist organizations who say it perpetuates Afro-Colombian stereotypes.   ···  
A performer smiles at the crowd during Carnaval's Batalla de Flores parade in Barranquilla, Colombia, 2020.   ···  
Spectators dressed in Carnaval garb scale tropical trees to get a good view of one of the many parades that overtake Barranquilla's streets.   ···  
A Carnaval celebrator sprays a bottle of foam into a crowd at Carnaval in Barranquilla, Colombia, 2020.   ···  
A man plays coastal music in the Batalla de Flores parade in Barranquilla, Colombia, 2020.   ···  
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.   ···  
A pair dances under the rainbow streamers set up near the Magdalena River, a key site in Colombian coast folklore.   ···  
Young women sporting neon colors and flowers dance to reggaeton music blasting from a passing-by float.   ···  
Performers clad in royal blue feathers dance in unison in a stretching line.   ···  
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