Colombia: Land of 18 National Holidays

in Culture/Plan to stay

So the 4th of July or Thanksgiving gets you excited? I don’t blame you. Usually it involves spending time with loved ones, eating great food and celebrating. But what if a few annual holidays simply isn’t enough? And what if you only had 5 or 10 days of vacation from your job, which is a reality for many, especially people from the United States or Japan?
I’m pretty sure you won’t be laying in your deathbed, reflecting over a life well spent and at the same time wishing you had spent more time at work?! Most likely you would wish that you had spent more time with the the ones you loved, traveling or taken more chances.


Mark Twain once wrote that “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

I couldn’t agree more. But what if your current job, country or circumstances don’t leave you with time to pursue those personal interests? The answer may be: Colombia.

Colombia has 18 national annual holidays, tying it to second place with the Philippines for most public holidays in world – only surpassed by India which has 21 (and in some states even more). I won’t get into the details of what each of the holidays is celebrating – there are so many, that most Colombians don’t even remember. If you ask, the answer will most likely be “FESTIVO”, which most appropriately mean festivities. Sure, it can be tough for companies, but the people love it! There’s always an excuse to party here, which may be one of the reasons that the Colombian are always rated among the happiest people in the world.

A lot of the holidays are placed on Mondays creating a long weekends or “puente” (bridge) as the locals call it. It makes the festivos very suitable leaving the city and doing stuff with family or friends. In Cali, lots of people go up to their “finca” (means farm, but is really a term used for vacation houses), make picnics or BBQ’s by the river, take trips to the coffee district, fly to the Caribbean coast or use the extra time to visit distant friends and family.

The Colombian government has made a nice banner, listing the different holidays. Please note that the dates listed are for 2015 and some of them do change slightly every year.

Passed through Cali for the first time in 2011, on his way from the US to Brazil on a motorcycle. Ended up kissing a caleña on his last night and the rest is history. Has been a resident of Cali, Colombia since 2013 and currently living in Barrio Bellavista with his girlfriend and 2 daughters.

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