For the people of Colombia, the start of a new year is not just about fresh goals and aspirations, it also marks the beginning of carnival season. This vibrant, four-day extravaganza – the biggest carnival in the world after Rio – may kick off mid-February, but the party atmosphere in Barranquilla starts weeks earlier, when enthusiastic participants adding finishing touches to elaborate floats and rehearsing dancers can be seen on the city’s streets. Pre-carnival events include the crowning of King Momo (the leader of carnivals) and the Carnival Queen, and the reading of the Lectura del Bando – a traditional declaration of carnival – serve as a call for citizens to begin celebrating. The Queen leads the first day’s festivities with the main event – the Batalla de Flores – an extravaganza of flowers, folk dancing and masked entertainers, with spectators in fancy dress filling the streets cheering the passing floats. The Grand Parade on day two features a thrilling, multi-coloured mass of flamboyant characters bedecked in lavish costumes, all vying for a place in the following year’s main event.