Black & White Carnival

Everything is possible: baby powder, white flour and, the joy.

Declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009, the Black & White Carnival (Carnaval de Negros y Blancos) started in the southern part of Colombia, more specifically in the city of San Juan de Pasto, as a result of the native traditions from the Andes, and with a strong influence from Hispanic and African people. The celebration is held annually between December 28th and January 6th and it begins with Water Day, when people go out onto the streets throwing water on each other. Everything is possible, from cups to hoses and hydrants. The most important thing is to never go back home dry.

The celebration keeps up with the Serenata a Pasto, a street serenade that takes place on December 30th, when the best string trios take to the streets, singing typical Colombian songs. In order to warm up for the last two days, which are considered the most important, on January 4th a great parade is held to honor the Castañeda family. According to legend, this family was hosted by the Campesinos (peasants) in 1928. At this time, the partygoers usually worship the Castañeda family with costumes and old-fashioned outfits, although it remains a mystery if they truly existed.

The Dia de los Negros (Black Day), celebrated on January 5th, kicks off the most traditional part of this Carnival: everyone goes out with black ink, in order to paint one another, followed by the sound of street orchestras, which welcome everyone, without distinction. The following day, the rules remain the same, except for the color of the ink, which is now white. Once again, everything is possible: baby powder, white flour and, the most important component, joy!