Yesterday was a HUGE day for Paisas, as folks from Medellín and Antioquia departamento (state) proudly call themselves. After a two-year, pandemic-induced haitus, the Desfile de Silleteros or Grand Parade of the Silleteros returned in its full glory. (We’ll get to the meaning of silletero in a moment). And what a parade it was – bigger and better than ever, and somehow even more meaningful and poignant after the losses and heartache of Covid.
The Desfile was the grand finale to Medellín’s world-famous 2022 Feria de las Flores, a two-week celebration of Paisa culture and the huge local flower industry (one of the biggest in the world). The Feria is easily the biggest event on Medellin’s calendar, so its absence was deeply felt for two years. In 2019, the last time the full-blown Feria took place, we were lucky enough to be able to attend several events including the parade.
So what is a silletero, you ask?
The literal meaning is “someone who carries a chair on his/her back.” But in Paisa culture the silletero is much, much more – celebrating Antioquia’s flower growers and proud campesino (peasant) roots. While the original silleteros carried goods to market and even people in chair-like contraptions, today’s silleteros are typically flower farmers from the Santa Elena region near Medellín. The Feria de las Flores is the highlight of their year – and they spend untold hours building the elaborate and eye-poppingly beautiful flower displays that they will proudly carry on their backs in the grand parade.
Here’s our post from the 2019 Feria de las Flores.
In addition to the Desfile, we watched the Parade of Classic Autos and visited the Orchid Fair in the Medellin Botanical Garden. All of which are described in detail in this post.
This year, we watched the 2022 Feria de las Flores parade on TV.
The advantage (besides being able to kick back in our living room) was a birds-eye view to all the action (much better than our view from the bleachers in 2019). We also got to see the coverage of the award presentations to the winning silleteros in each category. Here are a few screen grabs from yesterday’s telecast.
Want to learn more about Medellin’s flower and silletero culture? Here’s a great tour.
In early 2020, just before the Covid sky fell, we took a fascinating tour of a working flower plantation in Santa Elena. Here’s our post about it. It was a pleasure to meet one of the farmers and hear about his experiences as a silletero in many, many Feria de las Flores parades. Here’s our post about the visit.
- Barring any future pandemics (yikes!), the 66th Feria de las Flores is scheduled for 28 July – 7 August, 2023. As one of the world’s largest flower festivals, the Feria brings guests from all over the world to Medellin. Book your hotel early!
- The Desfile de Silleteros is the big climax, but the two weeks of the Feria are filled with fun and interesting events ranging from concerts and art exhibits to the fabulous orchid fair and the classic auto parade.
- For the best viewpoint to watch the Desfile de Silleteros, spring for bleacher seats. About $10 gets you a shaded place to sit and access to (very clean) porta-potties.
- Keep an eye on this site for up-to-the-minute information, ticket sales, and schedules. There’s also great information here.
Up Next: Santa Fe de Antioquia – a Beautiful Colombian Heritage Town