Ride in the Manizales Fair. Picture by Sergio Acevedo.
While in Pasto the city is resting after the exciting events of the Carnival that opens the Colombian calendar of festivities, about 700 kilometers at its north, by the same Andean mountains, in another city at the feet of another volcano, Colombians celebrate another important Carnival: the one of Manizales.
By Albeiro Rodas
The Fair of Manizales and its Taurine Festival is celebrated every year between 7th and 14th of January since 1951 as a homage to the first centenary of the city (Manizales was founded in 1851). The Fair was declared in 2006 National Cultural Patrimony and Manizales received the title of origin and genesis of the Taurine tradition in Colombia and the Americas.
Many activities join in Manizales during the Fair. Toros is the specialty in a program where the best bullfighters are invited from the Americas and Spain. While courageous men show their skill in the arena in an activity that links Colombia to the Spaniard cultural traditions, beautiful women contend with their beauty to gain the crown of the Andean city as the Queen of Miss Coffee International. This year the participation of beautiful ladies has representation of the following countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Cycling, music, dances, traditions and many other elements join the Fair in a city that is located in the Coffee Axes of Colombia, the same region where is produced the best coffee of the world. Manizales is a Paisa city founded during the middle of the 19th century in what is known as the Antioquean Colonization. With a population of 414,389 inhabitants the city has an altitude of 2,160 meters up the sea level being rather a cold climate with 18°C. The king of the city is the Ruiz Snowed Mountain, the seat of Arenas Volcano giving a stunning view to the Andean and traditional city. Manizales is doubtless one of the most beautiful cities of Colombia, peaceful and traditional with an economy based mainly in the coffee plantations. It is located 305 kilometers at the west of Bogotá and only five hours by bus to Medellín (180 kilometers at its north) and to Cali at 300 kilometers at its south. Pereira, the other important center of the region is also near. The Nubia National Airport connects the city with the most important urban centers of Colombia and there is a project for the construction of a bigger airport.
The city has gained also fame for its universities with students from different regions of Colombia, even from big centers like Bogotá, Medellín and Cali who find in Manizales an ideal place for their studies. The most important centers for superior studies are the National University of Colombia, the University of Caldas, the University of Manizales, the Autonomous University of Manizales, the Catholic University of Manizales, the Luis Amigó University, the Antonio Nariño University and the Cooperative University of Colombia.