Mask your face in an antifaz, dress in your oldest clothes and get ready for an outrageous party at Colombia's Narino City for the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros. The Carnival of Blacks and Whites is one of the oldest festivals, showcasing a cultural exhibit of different races in South America. The tradition started sometime during the Spanish rule when the slaves were permitted to party by their masters, who painted their faces in black in support.
The preparation for the Carnival of Blacks and Whites begins well in advance. Pre carnival begins with the Day of Water, when people of all ages come out on the streets and playfully celebrate this day by getting drenched with water. Following this, begins the little carnival (El Carnavalito) when the kids showcase their creativity and culture.
Today, the Carnival of Blacks and Whites is a two day wild extravaganza when people smear each other in black and white colours. The Castaneda Family Parade is the prelude of the actual event. Legend has it that the Castaneda Family was a special family invited for feast by the Pasto inhabitants in 1928. To celebrate this occasion the people dressed up in the traditional attires of the early twentieth century. On this day a Grand Parade on the streets of downtown Pasto is transformed into one big carnival. Performers in bright costumes sing and dance along the route showering streamers and confetti on the spectators.
5th January is the Day of the Blacks (El Dia de los Negros) and 6th January is the Day of the Whites (El Dia de los Blancos). On these days the people spread the joy of the festival by painting and colouring each other with anything they get their hands on - paint, polish, grease, talc, chalk and flour. The 'antifaz', a local mask to protect the face is sold widely in the markets; just in case you intend to go crazy and dust anyone's face you like, keep this handy.
Come join the colorful mess in Pasto, Colombia and celebrate the liberation of life.