Cartagena carnival 2016 things to do

Independence Day Festivities 2016

Angie Arias

November is probably the most important month for local people from Cartagena.  We proudly celebrate the festivities of Cartagena, where people honor the independence from the Spanish oppression. These festivities are a symbol of cultural identity, where heroism and liberty are celebrated and history is remembered. During festival week the independence pageant also takes place, women from the different neighborhoods of Cartagena compete to win the title of independence queen. For this reason, in the schedule of these festivities you will find different parades where you will meet the contestants, who represent each neighborhood

Here you will find a list of free activities scheduled for this week full of color, costumes, music and dance.

Monday, November 7

To begin the festivities you can enjoy the Gran Noche de Gaitas, Candelas y Tambores. This activity will start at 4:00 p.m. at a neighborhood called El Socorro.

El Socorro is far from the touristic area of the city, that's why if you want to get to know the local side of the Cartagena this is the perfect opportunity. From Downtown you can take a taxi cab for USD$5 or by Uber. You can find the location of this neighborhood here

Wednesday, November 9

Travelers and locals will be able to have a good time in the Desfile Estudiantil en Homenaje a los Héroes de la Independencia. This parade will take place in Downtown at 3:00 p.m. During the parade you will see the marching bands of the different schools of Cartagena.

This Wednesday you will also enjoy the Noche de Fantasía, a homage to the magic realism of the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. You will also meet the contestants of the independence pageant and will have the opportunity to attend a concert. These events will take place in the Plaza de la Paz and in the Camellón de los Mártires at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 10

On this day you will enjoy the independence pageant swimsuit competition, which will take place in Las Tenazas, the area in Downtown located between the beach and the walls at 5:30 p.m. When the parade ends, you will have the opportunity to attend a free concert, held as closing ceremony for the competition.

Friday, November 11

The declaration of independence of Cartagena was signed on November 11, 1811. That’s why this is the most important day of the festivities. On this Friday you can listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence in the Convention Center at 8:00 a.m. You can also attend to the Ofrenda Floral a los Mártires de la Independencia in the Camellón de los Mártires at 11:00 a.m.

Finally, you can go to the Independence Parade, the main event of the festivities, at 2:00 p.m. on Santander Avenue. On this parade you will see groups of people with colorful costumes dancing to the rhythm of the traditional Independence Day songs. We recommend enjoying this parade from the walls facing the avenue, from where you will have a great view, but you need to arrive early if you want to find a place on the walls. If you prefer, you can see the parade from box seats, which you can buy from web pages such as

Saturday, November 12

This Saturday the parade Belleza con Sentido Ambiental will take place. Here the candidates of the independence pageant will get on small boats and go on a tour through some of the different bodies of water of the city. This event will start at 2:00 p.m. and it can be seen from the fort El Pastelillo, located in the neighborhood Manga, the parking lot of the Convention Center or from the Muelle de los Pegasos, where the tour will end.

On this day the Marcha de la Independencia y de las Diversidades will also take place on El Pedregal Avenue from 8:00 p.m. This parade is an opportunity for the members of the LGBTI community to express themselves.

Sunday, November 13

On this day the Cabildo de Getsemaní will take place. It will begin in Canapote at 2:00 p.m. and will end at Plaza de la Trinidad. This is one of the most traditional activities of the festivities since it was in Getsemaní where the independence movement began. This parade is a cultural demonstration that showcases the dances, troupes, costumes, music and the happiness of the people from this neighborhood.

Extra tip:

If you visit Cartagena during this week, you need to take into account that in the festivities people usually throw water, flour and spray aerosol string, even to people they don’t know. Some people find this practice annoying but it is better to take it as part of the folklore and to be ready to return to where you’re staying with your clothes wet and dirty, but it is all part of the experience!

If you get caught up in the atmosphere and start having fun throwing water and flour and spraying aerosol string to others, don’t forget that there are people who don’t enjoy this. To avoid problems don’t do these things with people you don’t know, unless you notice they are okay with it. We also recommend you to take good care of your personal belongings. They can get wet, or get stolen since there are people who take advantage of the amount of tourists there are for the festivities.

If a group of people with all of their bodies and clothes painted black approach you and don’t let you move, don’t get scared! Just give them a coin. This is a tradition of the festivities, so make sure not to go out to the streets without coins in your pocket.

Good things are shared ⬇

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