Life around the world

Tuesday, 14 January, 2014 - 01:23

The Black and White Carnival

by IainG

Here in the south of Colombia the city of Pasto, has just finished celebrating “el Carnaval de Negros y Blancos” – the “Black and White Carnival”. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about this event in this blog entry.

Officially the celebrations begin every year on the 2nd January but, even before then, there are different activities going on around the city. On 28th December, for example, leaving the house can be quite a bad idea as the entire city turns into a giant water park. All over the city, from the touristic centre right out to the residential suburbs, people are throwing buckets of water at each other. Nowhere is safe, except for one small square. Here amateur and professional artists come from across the city and the surrounding areas to decorate the pavements and roads. The many paintings and drawings created are simply fantastic.

Next, on 30th December, is the “Serenade to Pasto” when local trios – music groups playing the guitar or similar string instruments, and singing – perform on the city’s main square. Another wonderful event, this is an excellent place to hear many traditional Colombian songs.

Then, on the 2nd January, the carnival has its real start with parades by local children, organisations, musicians, dancers and artists nearly every day until the 7th January.  Bright and colourful, each parade is an eye-opening display of the creativity of the city’s population and, each day, the city streets are filled with people from all over the country who come to witness the spectacle.

While the parades are held in the morning, the entertainment lasts all day. Every evening Pasto’s two main squares have stages with live music and comedy performed by local, national and international artists. There is a wide range of choice for people with all sorts of tastes.

The Black and White Carnival here in Pasto really is an amazing experience – but watch out: on the 5th January, part of the fun includes a massive paint fight. Anybody who goes out into the centre of Pasto is likely to have paint thrown all over their face. Then, on the 6th, the paint goes away but, instead, throughout the day, people buy cans of foam and bags of talc and throw it all over each other.

It’s a terrible mess but, my goodness, it was a lot of fun.

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Are there any big festivals in your town or city? Would you like to go to a carnival?

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