This is the second biggest carnival in Latin and South America after Rio de Janeiro. The celebration starts 40 days before Easter and lasts for a few days. The battle of the flowers is the first event that opens the carnival. It's a six-hour show with folk dancing, fire breathers, live music, and colorful floats.
During the carnival, you can find a lot of activities like concerts, parades, and local dances. For tourists, it's a great chance to learn about the culture of Barranquilla, talk freely with the locals, and try traditional dishes and spirits. You can witness Colombian rhythms such as cumbia, porro, gaita, and puya. Dances including the Spanish paloteo, African congo, and the indigenous mico y micas are heart and soul of the party.
The parades are free access, but you might want to purchase a ticket to one of the bleacher seats known as palcos to get a better view. Palcos are often overbooked, so you still need to come in advance to get a good viewing spot. You can buy the bleacher tickets online, in one of the hotels, or on the spot, but double-check whether they are not fake.