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
Wow! Beautiful. We don’t have celebrations like that in Lubbock, Texas! Thank you for sharing.
Lubbock! I grew up in West Texas (born and raised in Fort Stockton). That part of the country has its own charms 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post.
I’m sure all Paisas were thrilled to host this spectacular event after a 2-year hiatus.
Their sense of joy was palpable, Henry! Even watching on TV.
Makes me miss Medellin, great post/pix, thanks!
Medellin misses you 🙂
Your blog brought back memories of a spectacular day in 2020, a delicious lunch among the beautiful blooms and a very interesting explanation of the Silleteros by our host. A never-to-be-forgotten experience.
We loved your whole visit with us, but that day was really spectacular! Hoping we can get you back here someday 🙂
It’s really heartening to read stuff like this where it seems like things that we missed from the past two years are starting to make a comeback. Watching events like this on TV certainly has its own advantages. Better vantage point is one of them thanks to the multiple cameras placed at different spots.
I remember thinking – deep in 2020 – that the Feria de las Flores might never come back to its former glory. It’s so heartening to see it happening. As we all keep getting our normal lives back, let’s hope we really have learned something from Covid. Have a great day, Bama!
Gracias! Where are you in Mexico now?
Puerto Morelos on the Caribbean coast
Nice! An area we haven’t explored yet. Enjoy!
Thank you – whereabouts are you guys just now?
Hanging at home just outside Medellin, but headed to Bogota next week, the Caribbean coast in September, and . . . planning the big trip in October, Brazil!
So many colorful flowers! It must’ve been especially special this year, given all that Colombia (and the whole world, really) has gone through with the pandemic. Looks absolutely beautiful! <3
Thanks, Rebecca! The Feria a tradition that’s so uniquely Colombian – and Antioquian – and that’s a big reason we love it so much.
Wow…incredibly flower festival. It reminded me of carnival in Brazil, lots of amazing and colourful displays.
Interesting to hear there are lots of events throughout the festivities, so I can imagine it gets very busy.
Lovely that you got to watch it all from the comfort of your own home,
Thank you, Gilda! The Feria is quite a scene. When we did it in 2019, we were determined to see as much as we could. Now, it’s fine to just watch it from home (guess we’re getting old!). 🙂
I’m so glad the event could go through in its full glory this year. The pride and joy it must bring to all the participants – and attendees… Good idea to watch the event on TV. That surely gives you the best point of view, especially since you visited in person before.
Thanks, Liesbet! Yeah, since we saw so many events in person in 2019, we’ve kind of “been there, done that.” But it’s so great to see the Feria making such a great comeback. I remember a point in 2020 where I wondered if these types of big events would ever be the same again.
Absolutely beautiful – just the kind of thing I’d seek out!
Thank you, Alison! The Feria is of the things that make Colombia so special to us.
As always, interesting. I felt overwhelmed by the bright colours of all those flowers. It was probably easier to view on TV than it would have been in person. All the best, Muriel
Thanks, Muriel! We really “did it up” with the Feria in 2019, so this year the feeling was – “been there, done that!” TV was more than enough. But we encourage everyone who visits Medellin to experience it live, even just once. It’s spectacular!
What a fabulous post! You’ve introduced us to a new event in a country we’ve never visited — and what a colorful event it is. Thanks for great pictures and information.
Thanks so much – glad you enjoyed the post! The Feria really is spectacular.
It’s so nice to see things returning to normal. Seeing festivals like the Feria de las Flores re-start is always heart-warming and I’m sure the people were so happy.