Feria de las Flores is Medellín’s biggest annual festival and normally starts in August. La Feria de las Flores 2020 (Festival of Flowers) has been rescheduled to November 1 to 8 in 2020 due to coronavirus and is not cancelled.

The 8-day festival is a huge annual celebration of paisa culture. This year is the 63rd annual Feria de las Flores in Medellín. Also, this festival is the most important social event for the city of Medellín. And the Flower Festival is one of the best ways to get an authentic taste of the local culture.

Last year there were over 400 different events between public and private events for La Feria de las Flores. However, in 2020 the format of the Flower Festival is completely different due to coronavirus.

I have attended Feria de las Flores the last eight years in a row and a couple years before that. Below, I will share the highlight events of this year’s festival, as well as some expat tips so you can enjoy each of these events.

Editor note: Feria de las Flores will be held on November 1 to 8 in 2020, instead of the normal dates in August. This is the first time in 62 years the flower festival will move out of season.

Coronavirus Impacts on Feria de las Flores?

Medellín’s Mayor Daniel Quintero Calle announced on April 26 that Feria de las Flores is not canceled.  Instead it has been rescheduled, which is confirmed for November 1 and 8.

It is not be the same as previous years but Medellín plans to have the Flower Festival in 2020. The Mayor said:

My team just asked me if the Flower Fair is canceled. I said: no, not at all. It may not be the same, but we will not stop.

I am here to tell you that we came out of this, we are going to overcome this crisis, adapt, build again, move forward.

Feria de las Flores in addition to being a tourist attraction in the city, is an important source of income for Medellín. Last year alone, it attracted 26,186 foreign tourists who spent $22.9 million USD.

In 2019, the majority of tourists for the Flower Festival arrived from the United States (48 percent), Mexico (10 percent), and Panama (8 percent) and resulted in a hotel occupancy of 80 percent, compared to an average occupancy of 63 percent throughout the year in city.

Desfile de Silleteros

Desfile de Silleteros

Feria de las Flores in 2020 is Completely Different Due to Coronavirus

Feria de las Flores in 2020 will be completely different than prior years due to coronavirus. Not only have the dates changed, the format has changed as well.

The motto of the 2020 Feria de las Floras is “Volveremos a florecer” (We will bloom again), a message of hope that this city administration wants to deliver and continue with the silletera tradition.

In 2020, there will not be the Flower Parade (Desfile de Silleteros) with huge crowds. Desfile de Silleteros will be held in Santa Elena on November 8 and is closed to the public and will broadcast on the social networks of the Medellín Mayor’s Office and on Telemedellín, the local TV channel.

Instead of having a big flower parade for the public, Medellín instead will have smaller caravans in several parts of the city.

These are called Caravanas de las Flores (Caravans of Flowers), floats that are essentially  “mini-fairs” that will exhibit the flowers throughout the neighborhoods of Medellín.

The caravans will tour the neighborhoods of Medellín from November 1 to 5, starting at 2:00 p.m. each day:

  • November 1 – San Cristóbal Palmitas, Belén and Guayabal.
  • November 2 – Altavista, La Candelaria, Buenos Aires and Villa Hermosa.
  • November 3 – San Antonio de Prado, Popular, Santa Cruz, Manrique and Aranjuez
  • November 4 – El Poblado, Castilla, Doce de Octubre and Robledo.
  • November 5 – Santa Elena, San Javier, La América and Laureles.

After Desfile de Silleteros and the awards ceremony (on November 8), the 510 silletas will be exhibited in Metro stations, shopping centers, Plaza Mayor, Museo de Antioquia and Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, among other venues.

Also, Feria de las Flores in 2020 will not hold the traditional Parade of Classic and Antique Cars. Instead there will be exhibitions of these cars in five shopping malls in the city.

You can see the complete schedule for the 2020 Feria de las Flores here: https://www.feriadelasfloresmedellin.gov.co/.

The flower parade at the 60th Feria de las Flores in 2017

The flower parade at the 60th Feria de las Flores in 2017

History of Feria de las Flores – the Medellín Flower Festival

The first Feria de las Flores, or flower festival, reportedly took place in Medellin in May 1957. It was intended to host a tribute to the thriving flower business in the Medellín area. And it was organized by Arturo Uribe, a member of the Board of the Office of Development and Tourism.

This first flower festival was referred to as the “Flower Party”. And it lasted for five days with an exposition of flowers displayed in the Catedral Basílica Metropolitana. In addition, the first silleteros parade took place with about 40 men from Santa Elena carrying on their backs flower arrangements to the exposition site

The following year in 1958, the month of the festival was changed to August. This was done to celebrate the independence of Antioquia. Over the next 60 years, additional events were added to the festival, which increased the duration to the current 10 to 11 days each year.

2020 Feria de las Flores – the Medellín Flower Festival Schedule:

Here is are some the highlight events expected for this year’s 2020 Feria de las Flores:

  • November 1 – Inauguration Concert of Feria de las Flores – transmitted on the Telemedellin TV channel) at 7:30 pm.
  • November 8 – Desfile de Silleteros (the Flower Parade) – transmitted on the Telemedellin TV channel) at 10:00 am.

There are normally hundreds of other smaller events including some that start before this event. Normally there are over 400 events for Feria de las Flores.

In 2020, there will be much fewer events due to coronavirus.  You can see the complete schedule for the 2020 Feria de las Flores here: https://www.feriadelasfloresmedellin.gov.co/.

The three biggest events normally are a Súper Concierto, the Classic Car Parade and Desfile de Silleteros pared. And we provide some details below for the previous editions of Feria de las Flores.

There will be no Súper Concierto or Class Car Parade in 2020. And Desfile de Silleteros is closed to the public and will be shown on local TV. However, there will be

Marc Anthony headlining Súper Concierto de Feria de las Flores 2019, photo courtesy of Tuboleta

Marc Anthony headlining Súper Concierto de Feria de las Flores 2019, photo courtesy of Tuboleta

Súper Concierto de Feria de las Flores

A big concert will not been scheduled for Feria de las Flores in 2020 due to coronavirus.

The 2019 Súper Concierto de Feria de las Flores was headlined by Marc Anthony along with Ozuna, Carlos Vives, Maluma, Alex Fernandez Jr., Becky G, Yeison Jimenez and Jaycob Duque. The was the fifth year in a row with Marc Anthony as the big concert headliner.

The concert last year was held at the large Estadio Atanasio Girardot sports stadium in Estadio. It is scheduled to start at 6 pm but concerts in Colombia typically start late. And get there early due to lines.

Expat Tips:  For this big concert held in previous years, we recommend buying the more expensive “Platino” tickets and arrive earlier than normal. Platino tickets sold for 312,000 pesos in 2019. You’ll get in faster (possibly saving an hour or more of waiting in line). Tickets for the concert last year were on sale at Tuboleta.

In my experience, big concerts in Colombia are not always well-organized. And the most impressive I have been to in Colombia was seeing Shakira in Barranquilla.

1932 Oldsmobile from last year's Desfile de Autos Clasicos

1932 Oldsmobile from last year’s Desfile de Autos Clasicos

Classic Car Parade (Desfile de Autos Clasicos)

Each year an estimated one million people see the Desfile de Autos Clasicos (Classic Car Parade). You can see our photos from last year’s Desfile de Autos Clasicos (Classic Car Parade).

In 2020, there will not be the traditional car parade with the huge crowds due to coronavirus. Instead during the eight days of Feria de las Flores, classic cars will be put on display in five shopping malls in the Medellín area.

1936 Ford from the 2017 Classic Car Parade

1936 Ford from the 2017 Classic Car Parade

Paisas have some very old cars that are in excellent condition. And some Colombians even come from all over the country to participate in this very popular parade. Every year, they dust the cars off and dress up in costumes to go for a drive in the classic car parade. In 2019, over 300 vehicles participated.

1929 Ford Model A pulling the 1900 De Dion Bouton in the 2018 parade

1929 Ford Model A pulling the 1900 De Dion Bouton in the 2018 parade

The vehicles in Desfile de Autos Clasicos are in several categories, including

  1. Old vehicles – cars which are at least 35 years old. And they must retain their original specifications.
  2. Classic vehicles – cars which are at least 50 years old. And they must retain their original features and specifications.
  3. Street rod vehicles – cars which are at least 35 years old and retain the completely original exterior and all accessories, emblems and mirrors. Inside parts and mechanicals can change but these should not be noticeable from the outside.
  4. Hot rod vehicles – cars that were completely changed in the mechanics, suspension and body. This includes finishes such as paint and upholstery typically very different from the original. There is a limit of 25 cars in this category selected by a committee.
  5. Vehicles produced, assembled or distributed in Colombia – cars included in this category must be at least 35 years old and at least 95 percent original.

In addition, there is a special category for military Jeeps and Volkswagens.

1934 Ford from last year

1934 Ford from last year

Flower Parade (Desfile de Silleteros)

Desfile de Silleteros is a parade where paisas of all ages carry flower displays on their backs on wooden silletas, for hours. Everyone from little kids to women and men in their 60s and even older can be seen carrying the flowers. Las year there was a total of about 500 silleteros in the parade and in 2020 there will 510 silleteros.

Also, you can see our photos from last year’s Desfile de Silleteros.

A beautiful monumental silleta from the 2018 parade

A beautiful monumental silleta from the 2018 parade

Normally there are bleachers along one side of the parade route where you can buy tickets for seats, otherwise you will need to stand.

Tickets for the Flower Parade normally sell out quickly each year, as there is a limited number. Tickets were on sale for 2019 on the Ticket Express website but were sold out in the first week in August.  You could use a credit card or debit card to buy tickets online.

In 2020, Desfile de Silleteros will be held in Santa Elena on November 8 and is closed to the public and broadcast on the social networks of the Medellín Mayor’s Office and on Telemedellín, the local TV channel.

Carrying a traditional silleta

Carrying a traditional silleta

Carrying another traditional silleta

Carrying another traditional silleta

This parade is considers a one of a kind parade where paisas of all ages carry flower displays on their backs, for hours. Everyone from small children to women and men in their 50s and 60s can be seen carrying the flowers. In addition to silleteros there are dancers as well in the parade. You also will see all ages participating in the parade.

All ages participate

All ages participate

The flower arrangements are made at the nearby pueblo of Santa Elena. And they are entered in a competition in various categories. In addition, there are many commercial displays, which are advertisements made of flowers. These arrangements can also reach up to 170 pounds.

Dancers with colorful dresses

Dancers with colorful dresses

History of Desfile de Silleteros (Flower Parade)

The tradition of silleteros has its roots back in the 19th century when people in the rural areas in Antioquia used these silletas (chair-like) devices to carry the sick and elderly.

Santa Elena flower growers were the first to use the silleta to carry flowers, vegetables and herbs to market in Medellín. And they used the silleta to take food and household items they bought in Medellín back to their homes.

The first Feria de las Flores, or flower festival, reportedly took place in Medellin in May 1957. It was organized by Arturo Uribe, a member of the Board of the Office of Development and Tourism. And the idea behind this event was to help promote the flower industry in Colombia. Colombia is the second largest flower exporting country in the world after Holland.

The first festival in Medellín lasted for five days with an exposition of flowers displayed in the Catedral Basílica Metropolitana. In addition, the first silleteros parade took place with about 40 men from Santa Elena carrying on their backs flower arrangements to the exposition site

The following year in 1958, the month of the festival was changed to August. This was done to celebrate the independence of Antioquia. Over the next 61 years, additional events were added to the festival, which increased the duration to the current 10 to 11 days.

The crowded bleachers

The crowded bleachers

The bleachers are crowded for the flower parade, as seen in the above photo. Due to coronavirus, in 2020 this parade will be closed to the public and only viewable on television or online.

However in 2020, there will be smaller caravans of flowers that will tour the neighborhoods of Medellín from November 1 to 5.

Colorful silletas from the 2017 parade

Colorful silletas from the 2017 parade

Other Expat Tips for 2020 Feria de las Flores

Here are nine expat tips for Feria de las Flores 2020 based on previous years and updated for 2020:

  1. Wear a face mask at all times and socially distance yourself from others.
  2. Watch your belongings. Unscrupulous people take advantage and ommit crimes. Take particular care with smart phones, which are the most commonly stolen items in Medellín. See our article about security for more safety tips.
  3. Attend events with comfortable clothes. It can be hot so dress appropriately.
  4. Use sunscreen and hats for events outside.
  5. Bring an umbrella, you never know when it may rain in Medellín.
  6. Use public transport such as buses, taxis and the Medellín Metro system to get to events, as parking is limited.
  7. Remember there are trained personnel at all the events for emergencies.
  8. You should carry your ID with you – your cedula if you have one or a copy of your passport.
  9. Avoid consuming alcohol in excess.

Top Things to See and Do in Colombia

On the Medellin Guru website, we have been looking at some of the most beautiful places in Colombia in a series of top things to see and do in Colombia. This is due to many readers asking about several of these things to do in Colombia.

We have looked at 20 of the top things to see and do in Colombia, in alphabetical order:

  1. Caño Cristales – the most beautiful river in Colombia, which has also been called the most beautiful river in the world by some people.
  2. Carnival in Barranquilla – the second largest carnival in the world.
  3. Cartagena – Oozing history, romance and sun-drenched beaches, the allure of historical Cartagena is hard to resist.
  4. Ciudad Perdida – the site of an ancient city in Colombia that is older than Machu Picchu in Peru.
  5. Colombia’s Pacific coast – often overlooked by tourists visiting Colombia but offering untamed nature and undiscovered beauty that is off the beaten path for most foreign tourists.
  6. Desierto de la Tatacoa – the second largest arid zone in Colombia is Tatacoa Desert, which has surreal desert landscapes and some of the best stargazing in Colombia.
  7. Guatapé – a picturesque pueblo near Medellín known for its huge rock and lake. And it’s likely the most visited pueblo in Colombia by foreigners.
  8. La Guajira Peninsula – one of the most visually stunning places in South America, which is located on the northern tip of Colombia where the desert meets the sea.
  9. Las Lajas Sanctuary – the most beautiful church in Colombia, which has also been called the most beautiful church in the world.
  10. Medellín’s Christmas lights – Medellín’s annual world-class Christmas lights known as Alumbrados Navideños.
  11. Medellín’s Feria de Las Flores – Medellín’s world-famous flower festival each year.
  12. Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados – a popular national park in Colombia located in the heart of the Colombian coffee region.
  13. Parque Tayrona – known for its beautiful beaches and the world’s highest coastal mountain range.
  14. Popayán – a colonial gem in Colombia best known for its white buildings and churches, it’s a city off the beaten path for foreign tourists but is definitely worth visiting.
  15. Rio Claro Nature Reserve – located about three hours from Medellín, Rio Claro is the perfect place to unplug from hectic daily life and enjoy a picturesque crystal-clear river, canyon and tropical rainforest.
  16. Salento and the Cocora Valley – Salento is a picturesque pueblo in Colombia’s coffee region and the nearby Cocora Valley is one of the most striking landscapes found in Colombia.
  17. San Agustín Archaeological Park – the largest group of pre-Columbian monuments and megalithic statues in South America and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  18. San Andrés – Colombia’s Caribbean island which is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve featuring many beaches, islets and coral reefs that are filled with flora and fauna.
  19. San Gil – Colombia’s adventure capital that is full of things to do including white water rafting, paragliding, caving, rappelling, hiking and much more.
  20. San Jose del Guaviare – a hidden gem and eco-tourism location off the beaten path and offering wildlife watching, jungle trekking and delving into Colombia’s prehistoric past.

Also, we included Feria de las Flores in our list of the top 20 tourist attractions in Colombia.

Monumental silletas from the 2018 Feria de las Flores

Monumental silletas from the 2018 Feria de las Flores

The Bottom Line: 2020 Feria de las Flores – the Medellín Flower Festival

The three big headliner events during Feria de las Flores each year are normally the classic car parade, the flower parade and the big Súper Concierto.

In 2020, there will not be the big Súper Concierto or the classic car parade. And the complete flower parade is closed to the public and can only be viewed on TV.

Instead in 2020 to avoid big crowds, there will be will be smaller caravans of flowers that will tour the neighborhoods of Medellín from November 1 to 5.

The bottom line is that Medellín still plans to have Feria de las Flores in 2020. But the format has completely changed. We will update this article when more details for the 2020 Feria de las Flores are released.

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Editor note: updated on July 18, 2020 with information that Feria de las Flores for 2020 has been rescheduled to November 2 to 8.

Editor note: updated on October 16, 2020 with detailed information about for revised format of Feria de las Flores for 2020 with the 2020 schedule.

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