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Carnival of Blacks and Whites in Pasto, Colombia


Carnival Blacks Whites Pasto Colombia
Black and White Carnival in Pasto. Credit: Tapiz de Retazos/CC BY 2.0

The Carnival of Blacks and Whites, held annually in Pasto, Colombia, from January 2nd to 7th, is a significant cultural event that embodies the rich heritage and diversity of the region. This festival, declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009, attracts both locals and tourists, offering a unique blend of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences.

Historical Roots and Celebratory Practices

Originating from indigenous harvest festivals, the Carnival of Blacks and Whites evolved over centuries, integrating elements from Spanish and African cultures. This evolution reflects the historical interactions and cultural exchanges that have shaped Colombia’s diverse society. The carnival features a series of events, starting with the playful Carnival of Water and the Serenade to Pasto in late December. The official festivities include the Carnavalito and the Castañeda Family Parade, showcasing traditional dances and costumes.

A distinctive feature of the carnival is the painting of bodies in black and white, symbolizing racial harmony and cultural integration. This act, along with the parade of floats, marks the culmination of the festival. Additionally, the event honors the region’s culinary heritage, particularly on the “Day of the Guinea Pig,” highlighting a local delicacy.

Exploring Pasto During the Carnival

Visitors to Pasto during the carnival can engage in various activities beyond the main event. The city offers historical and cultural attractions, including the Sanctuary of Las Lajas and the La Cocha Lagoon. The Carnival Museum provides insights into the festival’s history, while local cuisine reflects the amalgamation of different cultural influences.-

The Carnival of Blacks and Whites stands as a vibrant representation of Colombia’s multicultural identity. It not only serves as a platform for entertainment but also fosters understanding and unity among diverse communities. This event is a cornerstone of Colombian culture, inviting people worldwide to experience its unique charm and significance.

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