Top Events

Carnaval de Barranquilla, February

Feria de las Flores, August

Semana Santa in Popayán, March or April

Festival de Música del Pacífico Petronio Álvarez, August

Carnaval de Blancos y Negros, January

January

Colombia's equatorial position means temperatures fluctuate by altitude, not season, so almost anytime is a good time to visit. January could be considered ideal for dissipating holiday crowds coupled with lingering festivals and parties.

Carnaval de Blancos y Negros

Pasto's uproarious post-Christmas bash, originating during slavery times, sees drunken crowds throwing grease, talcum powder, flour and chalk on each other until everyone is coughing up powdery mucus and doused in gunk. Leave the haute couture at the hotel.

February

The Andean region remains pleasant and Cartagena almost drought-stricken, making February a great time to beach-hop along the Caribbean coast. With kids back in school and domestic merrymakers returned to the grind, Colombia is tranquila.

Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria

A solemn procession is held in Cartagena on 2 February to honor the town's patron saint. Celebrations begin nine days earlier, the so-called Novenas, when pilgrims flock to the convent.

Carnaval de Barranquilla

Held 40 days before Easter, Barranquilla's Carnaval is the continent's second-biggest after Rio de Janeiro. A spectacular four-day bash of drinking, dancing, parades, costumes and Colombian music concludes on Mardi Gras with the symbolic burial of 'festival icon' Joselito Carnaval.

March

Easter is big business. Whether it falls in March or April, the country is seriously tuned in. Expect crowds, high prices and weather taking a turn for the worse.

Semana Santa in Popayán

Colombia's most famous Semana Santa, or Holy Week, celebration is held in Popayán, with nighttime processions on Monday, Thursday and Good Friday. Thousands of the faithful and tourists take part in this religious ceremony and the accompanying festival of religious music.

Semana Santa in Mompós

Colombia's second-most important Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebration is in the sleepy river town of Mompós, near the Caribbean coast.

Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogotá

Held during Semana Santa, this biennial festival of Latin American theater takes place in even-numbered years, and is considered the largest performing arts festival in the world.

June

After a respite in April and May, storm clouds once again loom. Bogotá is at its driest, though, and humpback whales begin arriving on the Pacific coast. Prices rise for summer school vacations.

A Whalin' Good Time

June marks the beginning of the spectacular whale-watching season on Colombia's Pacific coast, when hundreds of humpback whales arrive from Antarctica, some 8500km away, to give birth and raise their young in Colombia's tropical waters.

August

Relatively mild August can be drizzly, but excellent festivals more than make up for impending rains. Bogotá, Cali and Medellín all soak up the end-of-summer atmosphere with a bonanza of music and culture.

Festival de Música del Pacífico Petronio Álvarez

This Cali festival celebrates the music of the Pacific coast, which is heavily influenced by African rhythms introduced to Colombia by the slaves who originally populated the region.

Feria de las Flores

This week-long feria is Medellín's most spectacular event. The highlight is the Desfile de Silleteros, when up to 400 campesinos (peasants) come down from the mountains and parade along the streets carrying flowers on their backs.

September

Showers hit most of the country, but Amazonian river levels are low, making it an excellent time for wildlife viewing, hiking or just kicking back on a sandy river beach.

Festival Mundial de Salsa

Don't miss this classic Cali festival. Despite the name, it's not really a worldwide festival, but you'll see some amazing dancers, and there are often free salsa shows.

Eat Your Heart Out

Every year top chefs from different countries are invited to cook up a storm in tiny colonial Popayán for the gastro-fueled Congreso Nacional Gastronómico.

Festival Internacional de Teatro

Held since 1968, Manizales' theater festival is Colombia's second-most important theater festival (after Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogotá). It features free shows in Plaza de Bolívar.

Mompox Jazz Festival

This relatively new festival began in 2012 and has helped attract visitors to Mompós, a beautiful but very remote colonial town in northern Colombia. Its program includes international jazz performers, and the festival even attracted the Colombian president in 2014.

October

On average, October is one of Colombia's rainiest months, along with November. Bogotá, Cali, Medellín and Cartagena are all at the mercy of the weather.

Rock al Parque

Three free days of rock, metal, pop, funk and reggae bands rocking out at Parque Simón Bolívar in Bogotá. Rock al Parque is free and swarming with fans – it's now Colombia's biggest music festival.

November

November is wet, wet, wet throughout Colombia. Your best refuge from the deluge is Bogotá, but you'll still be breaking out the umbrella on a regular basis.

Reinado Nacional de Belleza

Also known as the Carnaval de Cartagena or Fiestas del 11 de Noviembre, this beauty pageant and festival, Cartagena's most important annual bash, celebrates the city's independence day and the crowning of Miss Colombia. Festivities include street dancing, music and fancy-dress parades.

December

The rains begin to recede and the country is awash instead in holiday festivals, spectacular light displays and spur-of-the-moment partying. Expect crowds and cries of joy throughout Colombia.

Let There Be Light!

Every Christmas, Colombian cities compete in the annual Alumbrado Navideño, or Christmas Lighting, to see who can put up the most elaborate lighting display along their respective rivers – Medellín's colorful display often wins and is well worth a detour.

Feria de Cali

Commerce pretty much grinds to a halt during Cali's annual bash. Instead, parties spill into the streets, food and beer pavilions magically appear, spontaneous dancing commences, and the Río Cali is illuminated in a spectacular display of lights.