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Colombia Holidays_ A Guide to the Many Festivos in Colombia (3)
During the last few years Colombia has positioned itself as one of the favorite countries for foreigners to live in, one of the reasons is that here you will find many holidays, 18 in total for this 2024. Learn about the reason for the Colombians holidays.

Colombia Holidays 2024: A Guide to the Many Festivos in the country

There are many reasons why an expat can choose Colombia as their destination country for long stays. One of them is the numerous holidays that the country has, positioning itself worldwide as number 9 with the most festive and in Latin America as the second.

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Although Colombia will have 18 holidays this year, they are fewer than those in 2023 there were 20 in total for that year.

The reason for holidays, as they are known in Spanish, “festivos,” differs in each country; some are civic, religious days, or important events in the territory’s cities, and this year, they will be divided as follows.

11 Puentes

Colombia holidays that move to monday, to extend the weekend.

7 week days

Days that are fixed and do not move.

Colombia holidays change every year, depending on the day they occur. Some of them can be moved, but others cannot. For this reason, the government created Emiliani’s Law in Colombia, enacted on December 6, 1983, as Law 51. This law requires that most holidays be moved to the following Monday. However, Colombia’s holiday dates associated with Easter, the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas have never changed.

The Official Colombia Holidays in 2024

During 2024, three (3) months will not have Colombia holidays: February, April and September. However, it will have 18 holidays, ideal for resting and spending time with family and friends, but especially if you are a foreigner, it is the perfect opportunity to be surprised by the customs and traditions that Colombia has and learn more about its folklore.

For this reason, we invite you to download the Procolombia guide: “Fairs and Festivals,” in which you will find outstanding events that you can schedule during 2024 to learn more about the country.

Medellin Guru Guides

Download the guide Fairs and Festivals from Procolombia with helpful information about the most important celebrations in the country.

Below, we list Colombia holidays and explain why they are considered “festivos” days.

At 12 a toast is made for the arrival of the new year
At 12 a toast is made for the arrival of the new year

Colombia Holidays #1. January 1 – Monday: New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo)

All countries except Israel that use the Gregorian calendar celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1st. Countries that use the Julian Calendar tend to observe New Year’s Day on January 14th.

This holiday is traditionally celebrated with fireworks at midnight on the 31st in the local time zones. In Colombia, you’ll see fireworks displays in many cities in pueblos. Typically, you will hear fireworks early into the morning in many neighborhoods.

Also, it is common that during this day, you see in different neighborhoods, especially in Antioquia, families gathered together to make a “sancocho,” a typical colombian soup of potatoes, vegetables, chicken, meat, and condiments.

Colombia Holidays #2. January 8 – Monday: Epiphany (Día de Los Reyes Magos)

Catholic celebration, which represents the visit of the three wise men to the manger of Jesus in Belén, where they went to give him gifts for his birth: gold, incense, and myrrh, which symbolize majesty, sacredness and the perpetuation before the death of the messiah who had just been born.

This is one of the largest religious celebrations in the country, like Easter and Christmas. Therefore, it is normal for many people to keep their Christmas tree until this date.

Catedral Metropolitana Inside
Catedral Metropolitana Inside

Colombia Holidays #3. March 25 – Monday: Saint Joseph’s Day (Día de San José)

Saint Joseph’s Day is a holiday that celebrates the Virgin Mary’s husband and the adoptive legal father of Jesus Christ. This is a popular day for attending mass in the beautiful churches in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley.

Also, since 2000, this day has been considered Men’s Day in the country.

Colombia Holidays #4. March 28 – Thursday: Maundy Thursday (Jueves Santo)

Maundy Thursday is a religious holiday that is observed all over the world. It was established to commemorate the foot washing (Maundy) and the last supper of Jesus Christ with his Apostles. In addition, this holiday occurs the day before Good Friday.

This holiday is part of the holy week, or “Semana Santa,” in Colombia, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus as told by the New Testament.

Semana Santa parade in Popayán, photo by National Police of Colombia
Semana Santa parade in Popayán, photo by National Police of Colombia

Colombia Holidays #5. March 29– Friday: Good Friday (Viernes Santo)

Good Friday, also known as Holy Friday or Great Friday, is a religious holiday that commemorates the crucifixion – and eventual death – of Jesus Christ. This holiday is observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, this day is typically treated as a fast day – a day in which one only has one full meal and abstains from consuming meat.

Important information about Holy Week

You should know that many people take the entire week of Holy Week off in the country. For this reason, schools and universities have holidays. In addition, you will find many places of commerce closed, and banks will not be providing their office services on holidays; during 2024, they will not be there on Monday, Thursday, or Friday.

All over Colombia, cities, towns, families, and people normally celebrate and recognize Holy Week in various ways and levels of intensity.

We have a separate guide to Semana Santa in Colombia on this website.

Colombia Holidays #6. May 1 – Wednesday: Labor Day (Día del Trabajo)

Labor Day originated in the United States on the first Monday in September.

Throughout the rest of the world, over 80 countries, including Colombia, celebrate Labor Day, also known as May Day and International Workers’ Day, on the first day of May.

In Colombian territory in the main cities, it is tradition for workers to hold marches demanding their rights, which turn violent. Therefore, it is not advisable to be there or go out to places that day that are close to the demonstrations.

People enjoying their holiday in Colombia
People enjoying their holiday in Colombia

Colombia Holidays #7. May 13– Monday:  Ascension Day (Día de la Ascención)

Ascension Day is the celebration of Jesus rising into heaven after he had spent 40 days on earth after the resurrection. According to the New Testament, this took place before the eyes of his disciples. Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter.

In Colombia, as with many other religious holidays, Ascension Day is celebrated Monday after the actual date.

Also, it is an ideal weekend to enjoy Colombia’s different tourist attractions.

Colombia Holidays #8. June 3 – Monday: Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi signifies the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It refers to the components of the Eucharist, also known as the Holy Communion, Last Supper, or Lord’s Supper. This holiday celebrates Christ’s holiness.

Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

In 1264, Pope Urban IV declared Corpus Christi as a holiday. Spain was the first country to declare it as a national holiday in 1280.

There is no exact date of when it began to be celebrated in Colombia; being such a Catholic country, they also declared it a Colombian holiday.

Church of El Poblado, one of the most visited by tourists in Medellín
Church of El Poblado, one of the most visited by tourists in Medellín

Colombia Holidays #9. June 10 – Monday: Sacred Heart (Sagrado Corazón)

The Sacred Heart holiday commemorates the physical heart of Jesus as a symbol of his divine love for all humanity. The devotion to the Sacred Heart originated in the Middle Ages out of worship of the wounds Jesus received during the crucifixion.

This official public holiday in Colombia always falls on a Monday since it’s celebrated 10 weeks and a day after Easter Sunday.

Most religious people in Colombia take advantage of this holiday to visit churches in the city and pray.

Colombia Holidays #10. July 1 – Monday: Saint Peter and Saint Paul Day (Día de San Pedro y San Pablo)

This public holiday commemorates the martyrdom (torture, suffering, and death) of two saints, the apostles, Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

They are two of the most important figures in the Catholic Church because they were founders of the church in Rome and representatives of the gospel.

This is likely one of the oldest holidays celebrated in the Christian calendar. In 2010, images of Peter and Paul were found on the wall of catacombs dating back to the 4th Century AD.

knowing more about Colombia

Many Colombian holidays are also ideal opportunities to travel and get to know the territory. In the Procolombia guide “Fairs and Festivals,” you will find cultural and musical programming from the country’s different regions to explore the diversity of Colombian customs and traditions. Download it below.

Medellin Guru Guides

Download the guide Fairs and Festivals from Procolombia with helpful information about the most important celebrations in the country.

Fireworks in Medellín on July 20, 2010 as part of Colombia Bicentennial Independence Day.
Fireworks in Medellín on July 20, 2010 as part of Colombia Bicentennial Independence Day.

Colombia Holidays #11. July 20 –Saturday: Colombia Independence Day

This holiday is always celebrated on July 20 in Colombia. On July 20, 1810, an uprising in Bogota was seen as the start of independence in Colombia.

On this date in 1810, Colombian patriots stirred the population of Bogotá into a major uprising in the streets against Spanish rule. This uprising is celebrated by the Colombia Independence Day holiday.

Independence Day in Colombia is typically celebrated with parades and marches nationwide. Other popular activities include fireworks, watching sports, and listening to traditional Colombian music.

Colombia Holidays #12. August 7 – Wednesday: Battle of Boyacá Day (Día de Batalla de Boyacá)

This holiday in Colombia is celebrated every year on August 7.  This marks the date of the Battle of Boyacá in August 1819, which was a decisive victory in the war for Colombia’s independence from Spain.

Even though fighting continued for a few more years, the victory at Boyacá was the definitive battle in Colombia’s war for independence.  This important victory was the precursor for Colombia’s eventual independence from Spain.

People praying in church
Many people in Colombia have faith in the Virgin Mary

Colombia Holidays #13. August 19 – Monday: Assumption of Mary (Asunción de María)

The Assumption of Mary is a holiday celebrated in August every year. This day commemorates Mary’s death and her assumption into heaven.

The Assumption of Mary was first celebrated under Pope Sergius I in the 8th century, and Pope Leo IV confirmed the feast as official.

Some people mistakenly believe Mary ascended into heaven. But this is incorrect. It was Jesus Christ who ascended into heaven. At the same time, Mary was assumed or taken into heaven by God.

Colombia Holidays #14. October 14 – Monday: Columbus Day (Día de la Raza)

The commemoration of this date dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, unofficially, but it was not until 1913 that the president of the Ibero-American Union, Faustino Rodríguez, chose October 12 as the “Fiesta de la Raza,” to unify the celebration of this day in Spain and Latin America.

Since 1915, it has been called Columbus Day, which is why this date commemorates Cristobal Colón’s discovery of America in 1492.

This festival commemorates cultural diversity, geographical and natural wealth, historical traditions, and different works from native indigenous peoples, European settlers, and African maroons.

Candles lit for people who have already died

Colombia Holidays #15. November 4 – Monday: All Saints' Day (Día de los Santos)

All Saint’s Day, also known as All Hallow’s Day, Hallowmas, the Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints, is a holiday that is a commemoration day for all Christian saints, known and unknown.

All Saints’ Day is reportedly considered a holy day of obligation in Roman Catholicism. So, Catholics are supposed to go to mass on the date unless there is a good reason not to attend, such as illness.

In Colombia, it is also tradition that on this date, people light candles to pray for the repose of their family who have already died.

Colombia Holidays #16. November 11 – Monday: Independence of Cartagena (Independencia de Cartagena)

The holiday commemorates when Cartagena became the first Colombian city to declare independence from the Spanish.
Festivities on this day include many parades in Colombia. The most notable is Cartagena, where the most colorful parade occurs, which ends at Plaza Trinidad, where Cartagena’s independence was originally declared.
Also, in Cartagena on this date is the ‘Battle of Flowers,’ which is the beauty contest to pick Miss Colombia who will go on to represent Colombia in the Miss International.

Día de las Velitas in Colombia
Día de las Velitas in Colombia

Colombia Holidays #17. December 8 –Sunday: Immaculate Conception Day (Día de la Inmaculada Concepción)

This holiday celebrates the belief in the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. And that Mary was void of original sin all of her life.

The Immaculate Conception is one of the most important Marian feasts of the Roman Catholic Church.

This holiday actually starts on the evening before in Colombia. In addition, the Christmas season in Colombia unofficially begins on December 8, known as Día de las Velitas (Day of Candles).

On the evening of December 7, people place paper lanterns and candles on porches, balconies, streets, sidewalks, squares, and parks in cities and pueblos throughout Colombia. On December 8, houses in Colombia typically hoist a white flag with the image of the Virgin Mary.

You can see these candles and lanterns everywhere in the country. They are placed to honor the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception.

Colombia Holidays #18. December 25 – Wednesday: Christmas Day (Día de Navidad)

Christmas Day celebrates the nativity of Jesus, which, according to tradition, took place on December 25, 1 BC. December 25 is a public holiday in many countries around the world.

Christmas is more of a month-long celebration in Colombia than just a day. Medellín, in particular, celebrates Christmas in a big way each year with its world-class Christmas lights.

The 2022 Christmas lights broke an attendance record, with more than seven and a half million people coming to see the lighting inspired by the Disney movie “Encanto.”

Christmas lighting 2022 in Medellín inspired by the movie "Encanto".
Christmas lighting 2022 in Medellín inspired by the movie "Encanto".

Colombian Holidays: The Other Holidays

Some cities in Colombia have additional public holidays. For example, Barranquilla normally has two holidays on the Monday and Tuesday of Carnival in Barranquilla.

Día de Amor y Amistad (Valentine’s Day of Colombia)

In addition, many observed holidays aren’t official holidays. For example, Día de Amor y Amistad (Valentine’s Day of Colombia) falls on September 2024.

Here’s a list of several of the observed holidays in Colombia in 2024 that aren’t official public holidays:

  • March 8

    Friday: Women’s Day

  • April 26

    Friday: Secretaries' Day

  • May 12

    Sunday: Mother's Day

  • May 15

    Wednesday: Teacher's Day

  • June 16

    Sunday: Father's Day

  • September 21

    Saturday: Día de Amor y Amistad (Valentine's Day of Colombia)

  • October 31

    Thursday: Halloween

  • December 24

    Wednesday: Christmas Eve

  • December 31

    Wednesday: New Year's Eve

Many Places Are Closed on Colombian Holidays

In Colombia, on public holiday dates, all the banks, government offices, many shops, and some restaurants close. Larger grocery stores tend to be open, and many shops in the malls and movie theaters will be open on Colombia holidays.

In some countries, everything seems to be closed during holidays. In Colombia, the malls and movie theaters are open and normally packed on holidays. So, if you plan to go to a movie on a holiday in Colombia, buy a ticket early, or you will have to stand in a long line.

Colombia’s labor laws require employers to provide their employees a day off from work for all official national holidays. All workers, both in the public and private sectors, have the right to be paid for holidays.

However, in many cases, employment contracts provide employees with payment on days off that occur due to an official national holiday. Also, some employees must work on holidays, as not everything closes.

So Many Colombia Holidays

The Bottom Line: Colombia Holidays in 2024

Several of the public holidays in Colombia in 2024 fall on a Monday. Also, some on a Friday in 2023. So, there are 11 long weekends in Colombia in 2024 due to Colombia holidays.

With so many Colombia holidays each year, it turns out that many Colombians on some of these holidays don’t even know what is being celebrated.

In addition, having many Colombian holidays is probably one reason Colombia has ranked highly in global happiness surveys over the past few years.

Most notably, Colombia frequently ranks in the top three in happiness surveys. Colombia has been ranked number one several times. For example, in 2015, WIN/Gallup ranked Colombia the happiest country in the world.

Also, many of the dates for Colombian holidays change each year. So, we plan to update this article each year or post a new article so this website remains up-to-date.

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Editor’s note: It was completely updated on January  12, 2024, with the dates for the Colombia holidays in 2024.

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17 thoughts on “Colombia Holidays 2024: A Guide to the Many Festivos in the country”

    1. Daniel July 20, 2021

      Thanks for the holidays article, it is helpful.

    2. Glenn Susser January 1, 2021

      Hi Jeff, regarding the holiday list for 2021, I’ve noticed several discrepancies from other lists. Is the list posted on 12/31/20 for 2021? This is one list I came across which one other list concurs with…

      1 Jan Fri New Year’s Day
      11 Jan Mon Epiphany Holiday
      22 Mar Mon St Joseph’s Day
      1 Apr Thu Maundy Thursday
      2 Apr Fri Good Friday
      1 May Sat Labour Day
      17 May Mon Ascension Day Holiday
      3 Jun Thu Corpus Christi Holiday
      14 Jun Mon Sacred Heart Day
      5 Jul Mon Feast of St Peter and St Paul
      20 Jul Tue Independence Day
      7 Aug Sat Battle of Boyacá Day
      16 Aug Mon Assumption Day Holiday
      18 Oct Mon Columbus Day Holiday
      1 Nov Mon All Saints’ Day Holiday
      15 Nov Mon Independence of Cartagena Holiday
      8 Dec Wed Immaculate Conception
      25 Dec Sat Christmas Day

      • There are multiple sources with conflicting information in English and Spanish.

        We just updated with information from a reliable source in Colombia. One does not match your list – Corpus Cristi is on June 7 not June 3, as it was moved to a Monday.

    3. Thank you for the information!
      I would suggest editing the Columbus one though.
      Día de la Raza is more to remember the indigenous community, colonization, and cultural diversity of Latin America. While there was “discovery” the reality is more grim. Many Colombianos and for that matter people of Latin America, see this date as important to recognize and honor our indigenous community and the diversity of our countries.

    4. Thank you for this information, Jeff. There are certainly lots of celebrations and commemorations to look forward to.
      BTW, it’s true that Ash Wednesday falls before Holy (Maundy) Thursday, but not the day before. Ash Wednesday solemnly marks the beginning of the lenten season. In 2020, that’s February 26.

    5. Usually I’m so out of the loop that until the morning of the holiday I haven’t a clue what’s going on. But as soon as I step out on to the street it hits me; everything is waay too quiet considering it’s not even Sunday morning. It’s inconvenient in a way because I need to change plans but on the other hand things are really tranquil. So this list of specific dates goes into my permanent file. Thanks.

    6. Thanks, nice post. Most of the Colombians I know don’t seem to know what the reason is for each Colombian holiday except for the major ones.

    7. Brock Canner February 13, 2018

      Thanks again Jeff. Great post, sorry that was years ago I was sailing much of PR. Now Puerto Rico is in serious trouble. Yesterday I heard they lost power again, Part of San Juan and the northern tier of the country. I pray for them to get back and running soon.
      Cheers

    8. Thanks for this article Jeff. Good to know about all the Colombia holidays with an up to date list for 2018.

    9. Brock Canner February 12, 2018

      Thanks Jeff read earlier, then got busy. Sounds great to me. Sound a bit like Puerto Rico. I think they celebrate every holiday on the planet. Sometimes more is better.
      Cheers!!

    10. Thank you Jeff–Great article & very useful info. At the end of March with Maundy & Good Friday–you mentioned many businesses close for a week–does this mean 3/29–4/4? We have friends coming that week–I’m concerned this will it affect their visit.

      • Semana Santa this year in Colombia is considered to be from Sunday March 25 to Saturday March 31. I will update the article with this information. Many small businesses shut down but the malls and movie theaters will be open. And the banks will be open on non-holiday days during this time.

    11. Maria Rodriguez February 12, 2018

      Thanks for the helpful article. It seems there are holidays every time I need to go to the bank. Sometimes it seems like the celebrations are nonstop in Colombia.

    12. David Williams February 12, 2018

      Love this article. My Colombian friends seem to tell me for most holidays they don´t have a clue why they are celebrating. They are just very happy to get another day off.

      • Hi David, thanks. My Colombian friends also never seem to know what is the reason for many of the holidays.

      • I lived in Colombia and in all that time I found Colombians don’t need a reason to celebrate.

        Ren

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