MEDELLIN, Colombia — Every August, thousands of visitors squeeze onto bleachers or stand several deep along streets in Medellin to cheer … flowers.
But the Medellin Flower Festival on Aug. 3-12 is so much more than a celebration of silletas, the splendid flower arrangements strapped on the backs of parade participants. The 10-day Feria de la Flores features concerts, art and flower exhibits, a classic car parade and the unique culture of this South American city.
“This is incredible,” said Lilliana Segovia, who attended the 2017 festival, the 60th, with friends from a small town near Bogota. “Until you see it in person, you don’t realize just how elaborate it is.”
The festival was founded in 1957 to pay homage to the Antioquian region’s importance as one of the world biggest exporter of flowers. But Medellin offers a whole lot more. It’s a city of people who proudly celebrate their heritage, their culture and their music, their sweeping, sometimes breathtaking music.
The city also bursts with history, Spanish colonial architecture, museums and exquisite cuisine. Popular places for visitors include Pueblito Paisa overlooking the city, the Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture, the Museum of Antioquia and Botero Plaza, which features bronze sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Visitors can also take a graffiti tour of Comuna 13 or enjoy a cable car ride to Parque Arvi in the village of Santa Elena.
In August, the flower festival is Medellin’s main attraction. First-time visitors may want to book a package at the website, www.viajesdestinoantioquia.com.
On Aug. 10, tourists can visit the estate of a founding silletero in Santa Elena and learn the history of this floral art. The package includes a concert by Juan Fernando Zapata, the “National Prince of Trova,” a show of traditional Antioquian costume and dance and a taste of Mazamorra Antioqueña, a traditional bean casserole, at Sancho Paisa restaurant.
On Aug. 11, visitors receive tickets to the parade of classic and antique cars and an exhibition of orchids, flowers and crafts in the Joaquin Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden.
On Aug. 12, the final day, take a reserved seat in the tourist box for the Silleteros Parade as flower growers and vendors parade through the streets in traditional clothing toting their floral artworks.
The cost is $169 per person per night or $410 for three people and includes hotel accommodations and transportation to and from the airport and hotel and to various events. Information: www.viajesdestinoantioquia.com.
Nate Guidry: firstname.lastname@example.org.