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Most people have heard of the annual Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but did you also know that Colombia has a massive bash ? Matador writer Ian MacKenzie is on the scene to capture the action in photographs.

Jose paints a papier-mache animal mask in preparation for the Carnaval.

Each mask is created with an arcilla (clay) mould, and glued together with paste from the cassava plant.

Master craftsmen hand make hundreds of masks for the dancers.

A cumbia dancer adorns her dress for practice before the Carnaval.

The big day arrives: young Colombians crowd the main parade route, hoping for a glance of the performers.

Dancers in formation.

Playing the trumpet.

The Queen of the Carnaval waves to the raving crowd.

Skull-face flashes the thumbs up.

A gremlin poses for the camera.

Silver warriors intimidate and thrill with their war cries.

Congo men in their colourful costumes, hats piled with fruit.

Policemen abducted and still missing are honoured in the festival.

Masked dancers swing to the pulsating beat.

Black-faced boys twitch eratically and wave pointed spears.

Young and old all participate in the Carnaval.

Cumbia musicians play traditional music.

“Dirt man” combed the crowd, grossing out everyone by eating mud.

The coordinated dancers were the highlight of the festival.

Community Connection

Check out our other Carnaval Highlights from around South America, such as Oruro, Bolivia.

Culture and Art FestivalsDance


About The Author

Ian MacKenzie

Ian MacKenzie is the founder and former editor of Brave New Traveler. He is Head of Video at Matador Network. Ian is also an independent filmmaker, with his first feature (One Week Job) released in 2010. His more recent projects include Sacred Economics and Occupy Love.

  • Alan

    Very cool. I didn't even know Chile had something like this. I'm definitely becoming more interested in visiting, especially Punta Arenas.

  • ianmack

    Actually these photos are from Colombia! But glad you liked them.

  • geotraveler

    Breathtaking photos! Love 'em!

  • Joel

    You should do one of this with Panamanian carnavales… Those are really good!

  • conor

    Hi I am about to cover this festival for my website on this page

    Would it be ok to feature some of your photos on my article ?

  • Dan

    Great Article Ian, I was born and grew up in Barranquilla, I love your perception on the whole experience…..

  • tiffany

    thts hot

  • Dave

    Hey Ian –

    I just came across these posts now, but I wish I had known you’d be in Barranquilla for Carnaval too! Would’ve been great to meet up.

    Your photos are waaaay better than mine – they really capture the colors and atmosphere well. I was too busy being told to hide my camera from potential thieves, and ensuring it didn’t get doused in shaving foam.

    Here’s my experience from Day 1 –

  • Pingback: RealTime - Questions: "What is your perception on the war on drugs?"

  • Carnaval de Barranquilla

    Nice pictures of Carnaval de Barranquilla. I also posted some of my own pictures for everyone to enjoy.

  • Brice Peressini

    Love the pics!  What an amazing event!  If you want to see more of this amazing event captured in photos I posted some here:

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