Feria de Flores
2008 - Medellin, Colombia - 2008
Medellin was once known as one of the centers of the drug cartel run by Pablo Escobar and an incredibly dangerous place. Today, it is one of my favorite cities with the friendliest and most helpful people you will ever meet anywhere in the world that only want you to think the best of their city.

The Festival of Flowers is held the first week of August each year and was one of the most amazing events I have seen yet in my life. I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but this will be in the top three of all time. The pictures will never do justice to the incredible beauty and awe of these displays; it is something you have to experience live.

The traditional element in the parade is the silleta,which is the framework that the flower designs are created on and then carried on the back of the participant. Each one incorporates approximately 60 varieties of flowers.

Each silleta weighs approximately 70 kilos (154 lbs.)and is about 2 meters high (6.7 feet). The tradition is passed down from generation to generation with the oldest person in this year's parade (if I remember right) at 84 and the youngest at 10. It is a great honor to carry the silleta for your family.

The flowers were incredible and ranged from orchids to roses and lilies. Every square inch of the displays are made with flowers, including any 3D designs with people or butterflies coming out of the silletas.

The silletas came from colonial time when they were used to transport people and products on their backs. Several categories are used for judging the flower arrangements from traditional, commercial, emblems,and you'll see lots of value messages and pride in Colombia.


We stood for 3.5 hours to get a good position (in the hot sun on a box defending our 2x2 space - thank God for the umbrella!)to see the parade and it was "vale la pena" to see display after display come up over the hill for two hours straight. It honestly brought tears to my eyes because of the commitment, beauty, and dedication of the participants to this tradition.


The lady on the left was the oldest participant in the parade and one of the smallest I think!

You can see in the up close picture how intricate the flower designs are and how involved they can be. Each participating family comes up with their own design and ideas for what they want to present each year.

I know I said it already, but the only material used in these silletas are flowers to create all the elements of the design.


If you couldn't tell by the parade how big the displays are, Steve is 6 feet tall and standing next to one of the parade winners.

I really liked the traditional displays as much as the grandioso ones because of the collections of flowers used in each one. I can't image the endurance to carry even the smaller silletas for the entire five mile parade route in the 80 degree weather.

Classic Car Parade

The entire week of the festival is filled with events. One of the other parades is of classic cars. I just put a few of my favorites of the 250 cars up to see. There were too many Mustangs to count, (because anyone can have one of those - ha, ha) but only two Corvettes. I had to pick the one that's been around as long as I have.  The car on the left is actually a hearse.


Besides the car parade, there is also a parade of chivas, the traditional bus that takes the farm workers out to the fields, as well as party goers around town.

They were judged for their designs and paint jobs, and the amount of different cultural elements included somewhere on their vehicles.

So that's it for our trip to the 51st Feria de Flores! We missed several events over the 10 days, but saw enough to make memories of a lifetime. Many of you would probably also enjoy the Parade of Horses, the mountain man competitions, and the local events and silleta parades that go on in the towns around Medellin. If you enjoy flowers, culture, and festivities and ever get the chance to come to Medellin, make sure you visit the first week in August for an experience unlike any other in the world.

Steve and Cathy Carpenter
all photos copyrighted ©ccarpenter2008