We promise, you’ve never seen anything like it.
Medellín’s biggest annual festival, La Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers), has just wrapped-up and once again, we can report back that the number one social event in the city is also one of the best ways for you to throw yourself into the local culture and living history in just a few days.
While the first incarnation of the festival was hosted purely as a tribute to Antioquia’s indelible flower industry (the international market purchases approximately $1.35 billion worth of Colombian flowers every year), today La Feria de las Flores has become a 10-day long spectacle of concerts, pet walks, exhibitions, antique cars, horse parades, and dining and dancing that celebrates all Antioquian culture and history.
The First Flower Festivals
The first official flower festival – then called “The Flower Party” lasting five days long- took place in May, but by its second incarnation in 1958 the event was moved to August to coincide with the celebration of Antioquian independence.
La Feria de las Flores, the 62nd year of the tradition, ran from August 2 to August 11 and featured more than 400 public and private events, all culminating with the ultimate event: the Desfile de los Silleteros or, in English, the Silleteros Parade.
What are the silleteros?
Today, the silleteros are epitome of the paisas (people from Antioquia), with a strong tradition of being rural farmers. Originally, the silleteros were people who brought their harvested flowers down from their small farm plots in the surrounding mountain slopes to sell throughout the markets in Medellín. For the annual parade, the silleteros design and devise mass floral arrangements depicting landscapes, monuments, people, and messages that they then carry on their backs for display in the parade.
But there’s more to the silleteros’ history in Colombia than the story of flower farmers showing off their blooms in an elaborate fashion. You see, the word ‘silla,’ in Spanish, means ‘seat’ which represents the historical significance of the festival. The origin dThis manner of carrying heavy loads became closely associated with Antioquian culture and you can see it commemorated in a variety of forms throughout the region.
Today, the word “silletero” has come to mean anyone carrying a wooden-framed container on their back. In the case of the festival, it’s as many as 550 silleteros carrying their wooden-framed containers with exquisitely arranged flowers weighing up to 200 pounds through the streets of Medellín.
Now is the time to book to make sure you don’t miss Le Feria de las Flores 2020! We can even combine your Medellín Flower Festival experience with our True Bloom trip, taking you on a deep dive into the Antioquian flower tradition. You’ll travel into the heart of Antioquia’s flower country with a private visit to a flower farm, meet the paisas and learn about their lives on the farm, as well as get a peek into the homes of silleteros.