La Feria de las Flores – Another great reason to visit Medellin Colombia
“Cuando pasan los silleteros, es Antioquia la que pasa”
It’s the beginning of August and my first time at Medellin’s biggest party of the year – La Feria de Las Flores (The Flower Festival). The energetic crowd lining street shouts “Cuando pasan los silleteros, es Antioquia la que pasa” (When the silleteros go by, it’s Antioquia going by).
Yep, it’s finally here and I am in the heart of the action! With camera in hand, I stand perched on a flimsy green plastic chair that I bought from a street vendor for 10,ooo pesos ($5USD), trying to get an unobstructed view of the passing parade.
When I arrived in Medellin last September, everyone said that I had just missed the best month of the year in the city. Luckily I decided to stick around in medellin and managed to experience the festivities for myself this year.
Although it’s called the “Flower Festival”, don’t let the name mislead you, it’s much more than just a display of pretty little flowers. It seems like Paisas (the affectionate name for people from Antioquia Colombia) always have a good reason to celebrate and party, so why not celebrate the flowers right? This time the floral party went on for 9 whole days.
A Brief History: The flower festival started way back in 1957 and was centered around flowers which have always been a very symbolic element of Antioquia’s capital medellin (dubbed “The City of Eternal Spring”). A group of 40 farmers from a nearby town Santa Elena were the ones responsible for the festival’s first Silletero Parade and the Gardening Club of medellin organized its first flower show.
So what’s a Silletero? A “Silleta” which you can see on the old man’s back in the picture below is a wooden structure traditionally used by the indigenous people and campesinos to carry people and goods up Antioquia’s mountains. The Silletero parade actually represents an end to this era and beautiful flowers replaced the heavier loads once fetched by peasants during a time of servitude. The Silltero refers to the person who carries the wooden silleta on their back. Over time the word Silletero was used as the name for the people you see selling flowers in medellin’s streets.
Although the Silletero Parade and the Flower Show are still key attractions in the festival, over time a variety of new events like the horse parade, antique car show, and concerts were added to spice up the festival lineup. Today the Flower Festival is considered by many locals to be medellin’s biggest party of the year, only to be rivaled by the month of December with is pretty much an ongoing celebration.
Although the festival was originally celebrated in May, it was moved to the month of August to align with Antioquia’s independence. The festival has grown to be one of the most recognized events in the country bringing thousands of national and international tourism to medellin.
Did you know that a decorated Silleta can weigh up to about 70kg?
Beautiful Paisa Women
Another great reason to head out the Disfile a Caballo (Horse Parade) during the Flower Festival – Countless beautiful women on horses drinking Aguardiente (what could be better?)! Without a doubt medellin is a single guys dream and a married man’s nightmare – even more so during the Fería de Flores. Here are just a few of the riding beauties that I happened to catch while watching the horse show from the Fabrica de Licores.
One thing is for sure – If you are planning a trip to medellin, you should definitely consider making it in August for the Feria de Las Flores. I know that I for one can’t wait for next year’s festivities.