Hi and welcome to another article on Colombian carnivals.
The Medellin Flower festival after Covid
For the past couple of years the Medellin Flower Festival, or Feria de las Flores Medellin for the Colombian title of this carnival, has been a sad affair for the past two years due to the covid restrictions.
The festival is considered to be Colombia’s second most important traditional cultural event, with colorful peasant parades, various flower competitions, festive folklore shows, flower exhibitions, horse fair, classic car parade, live music shows and more.
Last year (2020), they had a few classic cars and hot rods displayed in shopping malls. Normally they are a popular large contingent, idling down the streets as part of the festival.
As for flowers. Well they had a few small “caravans” of flowers in various neighbors around the city.
On top of that, No concerts, and the flower parade was held at the stadium, which was closed to the public and televised.
Hardly what you would call a festival
The Rules for 2021.
- The scenarios organized by the Medellín Mayor’s Office that require registration are:
- Future Stage (Carlos Vieco Outdoor Theater)
- Colombia Scenario (River City)
- Connection Scenario (Plaza Gardel)
- Ball de las Flores (Juan Pablo II Airport)
- 64th Silleteros Parade (Atanasio Girardot Stadium).
- Registration for each stage will be enabled 3 days before the start of programming in this one.
- People over 40 years of age must also present the card with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. * Does not apply to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 3 months, for which they must take a positive test for COVID-19.
- All those who register must present an identification card with the QR code that arrives at the registered email address when entering the stage. This access is personal and non-transferable.
- Each person must make their registration. People can register, per day, only to one stage.
- Entrance and exit control of the public will be carried out in each of the stages, to control the capacity.
Although there are no tests or vaccinations required to enter Colombia from overseas, there are requirements for them at many events, as well, travelling on public transport or using tour operators, require that masks be worn.
The 2021 festival
Although some were saying that the festival was back this year… It was a shell of previous festivals. It was held starting on the 12th August and concluded on the 22nd August.
The restriction is that anyone over 40 and unvaccinated, is not permitted entry into the main events. Many main events however, were culled. So…
- No concerts
- No classic car parade
- The main event, Feria de las Flores was held at the soccer stadium with restricted access.
On top of those three, the Orchid, Bird and Flower display which takes place in the Botanical Gardens with exhibitors from Colombia and abroad, was also cancelled.
Still the Silleteros, who are the “Stars” of the festival, could be seen in the Santa Elena neighborhood.
A final parade at Atanasio Girardot stadium on August 22nd but about 9,000 (maximum), people permitted to be allowed into the stadium.
In 1957 there were about 40 Silleteros who took part in the festival, in 2019 there were about 450
As well there were other other scaled back activities throughout the 10 days.
In all, less than 20,000 people attended over the 10 days of the diminished festival, and hotel occupancy at around 60 – 65%.
Hardly a boom time for them.
Where to for 2022 for the Medellin Festival of Flowers
Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers in the world, after Holland.
Unlike other festivals the Medellin festival has only been in existence since 1957.
It never became popular with international tourists, until the demise of Pablo Escobar and the drug cartels, and people felt safe to visit.
As for Festivals and Carnivals, it has a calendar overflowing with public holidays and festivals.
Some have been going for centuries, and will probably keep going for centuries. Others, like the Medellin Flower Festival, have only been around since the late 1950’s.
At the close of this years Festival the Mayors office made a rule that everyone over 30 needs to be vaccinated against covid.
“Those over 30 will not be able to enter restaurants, bars or football matches, if they are not vaccinated. This is the next stage, ” the Mayor said.
The problem with this type of edict, is people get it because they are forced, not because of any confidence in the vaccine.
So, it is often easier for someone to op out of something that is not necessary in their lives. A carnival, going to a restaurant, bar or football match are all things that can be lived without.
Currently there are no PCR tests or Vaccination requirements to enter Colombia from most countries. How this will effect events where tests or vaccinations are required remains to be seen, not only for tourists but for participants as well.
Like many other things where the process to participate becomes overly bureaucratic and heavily policed, that event looses it soul and diminishes in value as an attraction.
It then becomes the difference between those who need to be there, and those who would like to be there. I have been to events where it seemed security outnumbered patrons.
When an events costs rise to cover the bureaucratic process’s, and security costs, patronage will soon fall away. People will look for other options, and there are lots of other options.
Not only in Colombia but in other countries.
Feel free to Comment below.
‘Til Next time,