An Introduction to Medellin's Famous Flower Festival

orchid on display at jardin botanico during Medellin's flower festival

When was the last time you paused to really look at a flower? To admire its colors, its artistic details, its strength, its softness.

There is something truly miraculous about a flower, it’s intrinsic ability to connect you to something greater than yourself – to nature, to life itself. 

For 10 days, the people of Medellín gather to celebrate something so divine as flowers.

La Feria de las Flores, in English known as, the Flower Festival or Festival of Flowers, celebrates the vibrancy that is the people of Medellín, Antioquia.

The Flower Festival is an opportunity for locals, as well as travelers, tourists and ex-pats to honor the true spirit of Medellín; the story of kindness, happiness, fortune, abundance, prosperity, purity, and joy. For anyone who has been to Medellín, you know this is an accurate assessment of the culture, the people and the way of life here. It’s near impossible to go to Medellín and not be blown away with just how friendly, joyful, hospitable, lively, and generous people are here. You can feel life joyfully flowing from the people, the streets, from every where you go.

The Flower Festival honors this sensational dedication to enjoying life and honoring the beauty in the every day. 

medellin flower festival large flower display at the jardin botanico event

It’s the largest annual festival in Medellín. Creative and colorful displays adorn the city, paying tribute to the history and culture of the campesinos (farmers) of Santa Elena, a mountain town that overlooks Medellín.

Kicking off the beginning of August every day, the entire city hosts an enormous amount of events; concerts, artisanal markets, and parades, all in honor of flowers. There are about 40 events each day for the 10-day festival, totaling more than 400 events throughout the city.

Highlighted events through the city 

Inaugural Concert - The kick-off concert takes place at around el Estadio in Laureles. The streets were packed with music, performers, and vendors catering to both locals and tourists.

Super Concierto – Also at Estadio in Laureles, this year’s super concert headliners included Marc Anthony, Maluma, Ozuna, Carlos Vives, and Becky G. 

Jardin Botanico – Located in the tranquil Jardin Botanico underneath the famous wooden structures is a showcase of artistic creative uses of flowers.

moody flower display during the festival of flowers in Medellin
cactus made of flowers at Jardin Botanico during flower festival in Medellin
flower hut in jardin botanico during the medellin flower festival

Ciudad del Rio – located very near to Poblado in Industriales you’ll find vendors, concerts, food and people enjoying the festivities with their friends and families. You can also enjoy food & drinks at Mercado del Rio, a food hall just a couple blocks away from Ciudad del Rio before or after the event.

Me at Ciudad del Rio during Medellin flower festival
Beautiful tent at Ciudad del Rio during flower festival in Medellin

Plaza de las Flores (Zona Norte) at Parque Norte – Parque Norte is known for hosting events around town. At the holidays, Parque Norte is a classic place to stroll for Christmas lights and activities. During la feria, it is the same. The place is a major center for paisa culture with food, artisanal market, music, concerts, performances, and games for the entire family to enjoy.

Desfile de Autos Clasicos y Antiguos – The parade of classic cars was recommended most to me by the locals before and during the festival.

Desfile de Silleteros – The 10-day festival closes with this colorful parade through the streets of Medellín, honoring a Paisa tradition; more than 500 people carried traditional, and newer more untraditional silleteros through the parade for the 62nd annual parade.

flower festival Medellin parade
silleta at the medellin flower festival parade
spirited silleteros at the flower festival parade in Medellin

Not only do men & women carry these clearly very heavy wooden structures with flowers arranged as art atop of them, but also children (ages 7-12) and juniors (ages 13-17) can participate. In fact, this year there were 80 children between the ages of 7 and 12 who participated.

Each saddle, can weigh up to 70 kilos, 150 pounds! It’s held on to the person’s chest, or even head! So cheering on the parade participants is really encouraged!

Those who walk in the parade hope that the crowd is noisy, cheering them on, often with the chant, “si, se puede”. You can buy flowers to throw into the parade.

The silletero is a symbol of peasant history, of the farmers of Santa Elena. The word silletero is like silla, meaning chair, it was originally used as means of transporting merchandise and people from the hills of Santa Elena which overlooks Medellín. Then this method was used to transport and sell their flowers in the city. The first parade was held May 1, 1957 with 40 silleteros carrying flowers down from the mountain on Santa Elena to the Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Medellín. The event was later moved to August to coincide with the independence of Antioquia.

View the whole program in Spanish online here.

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