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Three Kings Celebration, Popayán Colombia


In Colombia the Festival of the Three Kings (Fiesta de Reyes) is a national holiday. You may know it as Epiphany. There’s always parades and celebrations galore. And since it always falls in the first week of January, it feels like a continuation of Christmas and New Years.  This year I was in Popayán for Three Kings Day, a town of about 300,000 located about 2-1/2 hours south of Cali.

There was a wide variety (even somewhat odd combination) of themes presented. I’ve seen Easter parades in Colombia, but those tend to be more somber with a primarily religious focus. The Festival of the Three Kings parade was quite a surprising mish-mosh.

Music is essential!

There was a wide variety of musical bands, mainly with a more traditional focus. I especially loved the guys using gourds as a musical instrument. No excuse for not having something to make noise with.

Start ’em early

This little drummer boy was an instant hit. Every camera everywhere came out to capture his adorable cuteness!

Scantily clad dancers perform to sensual rhythms.

Maybe a warning?

Devils and ghouls with coffins wander by.

Indigenous dancers with feathered headgear strut their stuff.

Three Kings heading to Bethlehem

Interspersed were the floats with each of the three kings on their way to visit baby Jesus in the manger. Each king float included a giant paper mache animal that the king rode on their long journey.

This wasn’t actually one of the kings, I think it was supposed to be Arch Angel Gabriel given the large horn and angel wings. I especially liked the little boy “soldier” right in front, texting on his phone. A nice touch I think — illustrating both old and new communication technologies!

Every town needs a square

The center of all the festivities is the main town square. I don’t think I’ve even been in a Colombian town that didn’t have a main square with a cathedral. I especially like the blue and white striped dome.

(Click on any photo to open light-box and browse full-size images.)

All in all it was quite fun…. colorful costumes, loud music, enthusiastic participants and a  greatly appreciative crowd of onlookers.

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