In 2019, Cartagena will celebrate 208 years since it took a leading role in the independence of Colombia with its declaration of independence in 1811.  As part of the festivities, the city holds a Carnaval type festival.  Featuring a local and national beauty pageant and hosting world and nationally renowned artists, it is the city’s chance to shine.  Looking for how to best enjoy Cartagena’s 2019 independence festivities?  Then read on for a complete 2019 Cartagena Independence Schedule.

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Photo of a truck with people dancing and a Cartagena flag during the Cartagena Independence Festivities.
The highlight of Cartagena’s Independence Festivities is the parade. Read on for a complete 2019 schedule of Cartagena’s November Festivities.

What do the 2019 Cartagena November Festivities Celebrate?

Cartagena’s November Festival celebrates the city’s declaration of independence on November 11, 1811 (at 11 am to complement the 11/11/11 date, no less).  That declaration helped push the rest of the colony to also move towards independence.  Cartagena played a leading role throughout Colombia’s independence movement.  The city was the first to set up a functioning absolute independent government and earned its nickname of La Heroica (the heroic city) after a 105 day resistance to the Spanish reconquista.

*See also:  Why Did Cartagena Declare Independence? – Historic Background to November 11

Despite this nationwide under recognition, Cartageneros still celebrate their city’s revolutionary independence movement to the fullest every year.  2018 was the best run Cartagena Independence Festival I’ve seen since arriving here in 2011 thanks to a great effort to revitalize the November parties by the IPCC Cartagena.  I’m expecting 2019 to be even better based on early indications.

We’ve barely entered October and there has already been several cool events, including free concerts as preludes to the 2019 November Festivities.  The full schedule for the Cartagena November Festivities 2019 was recently released.  Read on for the complete 2019 Cartagena November Festival Schedule.

*See also:  What to Expect During the Fiestas Novembrinas Guide
Planning to come for the party?  Check out these recommendations for where to stay!

Photo of people being spayed with foam.
Get your espuma ready as you prepare for the fiestas with this complete calendar for the Cartagena Independence Festival.

2019 Cartagena Independence Celebration Schedule – Highlights

Miss Independence Talent Show – Monday October 7 

Susana went to this last year and thought it was great.  It will be held at the Teatro Adolfo Mejía.

Concerts in Centro

There will be free concerts at the Plaza de la Aduana in Centro on Friday October 11, Friday October 18 (this one will include the Miss Independence candidates in special costumes), after the main parade on Thursday November 7, and as part of the Miss Independence swimsuit presentation on Friday November 8.  Finally, there will be a salsa concert on Saturday November 9.

Independence Day Parade – Thursday November 7

This is the main event and shouldn’t be missed.  The parade runs along the Avenida Santander from Crespo to the end Centro.  It’s good fun to be out on the street, but be aware you will get spayed with foam, paint, and corn starch.  Be sure to wear clothes you don’t care about and keep your valuables at home even if you don’t plan to go to the parade itself.

Those are the highlights of the 2019 calendar for the Cartagena Independence Celebration.  Below you can see the complete schedule.

Complete 2019 Cartagena November Festivities Schedule

Monday October 7

Miss Independence Pageant Talent Show
Where:  Teatro Adolfo Mejía
When:  3 – 9 pm
What to Expect:  As part of the festivities, the city names a Miss Independence with many of Cartagena’s neighborhoods putting forth a candidate (this is a separate pageant than the Miss Colombia pageant that also takes place in Cartagena during the week of November 11 but has mostly private or high priced events).  This is the annual talent show for the local pageant.  Each candidate for Miss Independence will present.  Susana went last year and enjoyed it.  Expect lots of dancing.  Admission should be free.

Thursday October 10

Miss Independence Candidates Boat Cruise in the Chambaculeras
Where:  Caño Juan Angola (inlet that runs behind Marbella and Crespo)
When:  4 – 7 pm
What to Expect:  This is the first year they’ve done this, so I’m not entirely sure.  I’m imagining it being like the balleneras boat show that used to be done as part of the national pageant.  Las Chambaculeras are colorful boats that do a trip through the inlet.  Presumably, you will be able to see the beauty queens pass by along the banks.

Friday October 11

Night of Lights, Revelry, Drums, and Songs “Etelvina Maldonado”
Where:  Plaza de la Aduana
When:  6 pm – 2 am
What to Expect:  A night of music.  There should be a small parade through Centro with the drums.  Afterwards, there should be a concert.  Artists have not been announced yet.  If it is like the prelude they had a couple weeks ago, admission will be free but there will be barriers up, so expect a line.

Thursday October 17

Exposition:  “A Retrospective of the November 11th Independence Festivities”
Where:  Centro Cultural Pie de la Popa
When:  5 – 8 pm
What to Expect: A presentation on the history of the fiestas and how they have been celebrated over the years.

Friday October 18

Night of Fantasy and Tribute to Traditional November Music
Where:  Plaza de la Aduana
When:  6 pm – 2 am
What to Expect:  A concert featuring traditional music associated with November Festivities.  The candidates for Miss Independence will walk the catwalk with thematic costumes.  Admission should be free but expect a crowd and lines.

Friday October 25

Cabildo for the Handicapped – “Sparkles of Culture”
Where:  Plaza de los Coches
When:  3 – 8 pm
What to Expect:  A parade featuring the physically handicapped.  This event is part of an effort to make the festivities more inclusive.  Expect lots of colorful costumes and a parade through Centro.

Tuesday October 29

Cartagena Philharmonic Orchestra Concert
Where:  Teatro Adolfo Mejía
When:  7 – 11 pm
What to Expect:  The Cartagena Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing classical versions of the music of the November Festivities.  Admission should be free but with limited seating.

Thursday October 31

Cabildo of the Escuela Normal Superior
Where:  From Las Bovedas to the Plaza de los Coches
When:  3 – 7 pm
What to Expect:  A parade featuring school children that will pass through Centro.  Expect lots of costumes showing Cartagena’s culture and history along with musical and dance groups from the school.

Friday November 1

Celebration of Ángeles Somos

This is a traditional celebration concentrated primarily in Cartagena’s residential areas.  In it children go around the neighborhood to ask for ingredients for a sancocho, a big stew.  It is a a historic tradition related to All Saints Day and the stew along with the children dancing are meant to honor those who have passed away.  Therefore this day you may see children carrying soup pots and in costume in Cartagena’s barrios.  You can learn more about the tradition and its history in this article (in Spanish).

Children’s Cabildo Ángeles Somos
Where:  From Las Bovedas to Plaza de la Merced
When:  2 – 4 pm
What to Expect:  
A parade of school children in honor of Ángeles Somos.

Voices and Drums of Ángeles Somos Concert
Where:  Teatro Adolfo Mejía
When:  5 – 7 pm
What to Expect:  
A concert featuring traditional and religious songs.  Admission should be free.

Opening of the 29th Festival of Flutes, Song, and Drums
Where:  Parking Lot of the Biblioteca Distrial Jorge Artel in El Socorro
When:  4 pm – 3 am Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
What to Expect:  
This festival will feature local groups playing traditional Cartagena music.  It runs from Friday to Sunday.

Saturday November 2

Handing of the Keys to the City to the Miss Independence Candidates
Where:  Teatro Adolfo Mejía
When:  7 – 9 pm
What to Expect:  
The candidates for Miss Independence will be presented with the Keys of the City by the mayor.  I imagine there will also be a presentation.  I’m not 100% sure this event is open to the public.

Sunday November 3

10K in Honor of Cartagena’s History and Heritage
Where:  Getsemaní and Centro
When:  7 – 11 am
What to Expect: 
A 10K race in honor of Cartagena’s Heritage.  In years past registration was free and open to the public, but I have not found any information online how to do so.  I will try to update if I do.  The candidates for Miss Independence and even Miss Colombia have made appearances here in the past.

Orchestra Festival
Where:  Plaza de Toros
When:  2 pm – 1 am
What to Expect:  
A concert featuring local orchestras and musical groups.

Tuesday November 5

Crowning of the Communal Queen of the District
Where:  Teatro Adolfo Mejía
When:  6 pm – 8 pm
What to Expect:  
This is event is meant to celebrate women’s participation in their communities.  JAC (Juntas de Acción Comunal) are important community organizations.  During this event, women from different communities propose social projects, and one is honored as the “queen” of community participation.

Wednesday November 6

Student Parade in Honor of the Heroes of Independence
Where:  From Calle Real in Cabrero to Plaza de la Aduana
When:  3 – 7 pm
What to Expect:  
A parade of school children.  Expect costumes centered around the history.  The parade will start in Cabrero and pass through Centro.

Thursday November 7 (the main event)

Independence Parade
Where:  Avenida Santander from Crespo to Parque la Marina
When:  1 – 7 pm
What to Expect:  
This is the main event of the Cartagena Independence Festival schedule!  The parade goes down Avenida Santander along the water front from Crespo to the end of the wall.  Expect lots of colorful costumes and dancing.  The candidates for Miss Colombia and Miss Independence will also be participating on floats.

There are bleachers set up outside of the wall for which you must buy tickets.  Spectators can also see the parade from the street in Cabrero and Marbella.  Do expect to be sprayed with foam, corn starch, and paint as well as see lots of firecrackers (buscapies) thrown.  Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and leave your valuables at home.  Bringing along a beltneck, or bra safety pouch is also not a horrible idea.  The Avenida Santander and many of the roads in Marbella and Cabrero will be closed so make sure you are where you would like to by midday.

Independence Parade After Party
Where:  Plaza de la Aduana
When:  7 pm – 2 am
What to Expect:  
A concert to wrap up the day’s festivities.  Admission should be free, but expect a big crowd.  In years past there has been a Club Colombia event at the Convention Center as well.

Grito de la Independencia
Where:  Palacio de la Inquisición Historical Museum
When:  7 pm – 12 am
What to Expect:  
This is the first year there has been this event that I know of.  I am assuming it will also feature musical performances.

Friday November 8

Cartagena Historical Competition
Where:  Teatro Adolfo Mejía
When:  8 am – 12 pm
What to Expect:  
This is the first year this event has been held as well.  Students and the finalists for Miss Independence will be participating.  I’m assuming there will be performances based on the history of Cartagena.

Miss Independence Swimsuit Presentation
Where:  Plaza de la Aduana
When:  6 pm – 2 am
What to Expect:  
Live music with the candidates for Miss Independence strutting their stuff in swimsuits on stage.  Admission should be free but expect a crowd and lines to get in.

Saturday November 9

Diversity Parade
Where:  Getsemaní, starting on Avenida El Pedregal
When:  6 pm – 12 am
What to Expect:  
This is a LGBT pride parade.  It will head up Calle Larga and go down Media Luna.  There will likely be partying going on afterwards in the Plaza de la Trinidad in Getsemaní.

Salsa in La Plaza
Where:  Plaza de la Aduana
When:  2 pm – 1 am
What to Expect:  
Exactly what it sounds like, a salsa concert.  Admission should be free.

Sunday November 10

Crowning of Miss Independence
Where:  Plaza de Toros
When:  4 pm – 12 am
What to Expect:  
There should be live music as well as a presentation of all the candidates for Miss Independence.  The field will then be whittled down to finalists and finally one will be crowned.  This event should also be televised.

Getsemaní Cabildo
Where:  Getsemaní
When:  2 – 7 pm
What to Expect:  
This very traditional event features a parade starting from the Plaza of Canapote and ending at Plaza de la Trinidad.  Afterwards expect the party to continue there.  This along with the main parade tends to be the wildest part of the festivities.

Monday November 11

Reading of the Declaration of Independence
Where:  Convention Center
When:  8 – 10 am
What to Expect: 
The city’s political leaders and VIPs read the text of the act of independence.  Last year this event was invitation only.

Offering to the Martyrs of Independence
Where:  Plaza of the Martyrs
When:  11 am – 1 pm
What to Expect:
  A floral offering will be made to those that died fighting for independence.  Flowers will be laid at the monuments to Cartagena’s 9 Martyrs that were executed by the Spanish on the plaza across from the Clocktower.

“Soy Cartagenero”
Where:  Plaza de la Aduana
When:  11 am – 11 pm
What to Expect:  
This is described as an “encuentro,” or meeting.  I expect that means there will be cultural presentations throughout the day, possibly with live music.

There you have it.  A complete schedule for the Cartagena November Festivities.  I hope it helped you plan to enjoy the party!  If also suggest you check out my guide for what to expect during the festivities here and these recommendations for where to stay during the fiestas.

Cheers and Happy Exploring!

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Want to learn more about Cartagena’s Independence?

Check out the following posts:
Why Did Cartagena Declare Independence? – Historic Background to November 11
Un Once de Noviembre – Cartagena’s Declaration of Independence
Cartagena’s Patriotic Symbols – The Meaning of Cartagena’s Flag, Seal, and Anthem
Biography of Pedro Romero – Black, Working Class Hero of Cartagena’s Independence
Simón Bolívar in Cartagena – A Critical Look at the Liberator’s Cartagena Manifesto
The Siege of Cartagena – La Heroica Bravely Resists the Spanish Reconquest
Cartagena’s 9 Martyrs – Remembering the Spanish Reoccupation
The Liberation of Cartagena – La Heroica Rids Itself of the Spanish for Good
Consequences of Cartagena’s Independence
Review of No Limits to Their Sway, An Excellent Book on Cartagena’s Independence Naval Forces

Planning your trip to explore Cartagena?

Check out the following posts to help plan:
Insider’s Guide to the Best Areas to Stay in Cartagena
Complete Packing List for Cartagena
Top Things to Do in Cartagena

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Steve

    Great event schedule Adam, just what i was looking for…thanks!

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