A look behind the scenes of Colombia’s rich Barranquilla Carnival

Latin America

The Barranquilla Carnival is the second largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro’s festival. The carnival attracts more than 1 million spectators each year.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue freports.

A look behind the scenes of Colombia’s rich Barranquilla Carnival

The Barranquilla Carnival is the second largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro's festival. The carnival attracts more than one million spectators each year. CGTN's Michelle Begue followed one Folkloric Dance group that has participated in the festivities for decades.

Performers of the folkloric Garabato dance are rushing to get ready.  They have been practicing since November to perform at the Barranquilla Carnival.

Seventy-three year old Leopoldo Klee has been the director of this dance group for 24 years. He is a doctor by trade who commits his heart and his own earnings to bring the traditional Garabato dance to life.

“The dance is a fight between life and death. Traditionally in the afro dance rythms, death is the winner. At the carnival, life has to win because we need to continue dancing the four days of the carnival,” Kee said.


Garabato dance of Life and Death

The Garabato dance begins with the men and women, who represent life, dancing flirtatiously to the festive rhythm of the Chand music.

“Death tries to seduce the woman and she falls into its spell. The man comes in to rescue her and begins a battle where life wins over death,” dancer Fernando Pinzon said.

This rich tradition is the reason the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO declared the Barranquilla Carnival an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Nearly 200 groups made up of 12,000 people participate in the Grand Parade, which takes place on the second day of the Barranquilla Carnival. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Grand Parade tradition.