Bogota’s Halloween Hangover: Don’t stay in bed, tell the world instead.

I love writing Banana Skin Flip Flops, because it’s changing the world. Obviously. When this blog speaks about the chaotic, messed-up comedy of life in Bogotá – the greatest city in the world because you can generally only survive here if you work hard and have a good sense of humour – people listen. They sit up and take notice.

Except they don’t. Which is why I am about to repeat myself.

We’re currently in that phase of Bogotá life known as the Halloween Hangover, because most of us have spent too much money and too much time designing the costumes and creating the atmosphere that makes this town an incredible place to experience October 31.

My first Halloween in Bogotá, I went to a crumbling, derelict building in La Candelaria that some students had rented, filled with cheap beer and advertised to all their friends. It was packed but, even better, the costumes were the most incredible costumes I’d seen in my life (remember I’m British – our idea of Halloween is a witches hat or some whiskers, gathered around a strong alcoholic punch in a friend’s apartment) That first Bogotá Halloween was unforgettable.

The following year I went to La Villa – not just a great club with a great atmosphere, but a place perfectly situated to soak up the havoc and chaos that swirls around Zona T. Once again I couldn’t believe the scale and the effort that had gone into producing such finery – a brilliant night even though I couldn’t recognise half my friends.

This year was different again – Andres Carne de Res – a restaurant, nightclub and carnival rolled into one. Guests were greeted by Roman dancers on a red carpet, surrounded by people from Chia who’d ventured out just to see the costumes. Inside were around 200 actors and actresses transporting the place to Ancient Rome complete with Caesar, slaves and two girls in a vat of grapes, crushing them between their toes. I gorged myself on meat and chocolate coins and was near exhausted by the spectacle. It was decadence defined.

But I just can’t resist the atmosphere in Zona T so, on Saturday night, some friends and I went for a wander – dressed in coats and jeans like dozens of other Bogotanos who just wanted to enjoy the efforts of others. Those in costumes were treated like celebrities, with people queuing to have their photographs taken beside them.

So, I say it again. Bogotá wastes an incredible opportunity with Halloween. We promote attractions like Monserratte and Plaza Bolivar when, frankly, there are so many cable-cars-up-mountains and colonial plazas in Latin America that the average tourist must be bored stiff by them.

Instead, why don’t we close a few more streets in Zona T – maybe organise a decent parade route, some floats, even a giant red carpet – to give all those Bogotanos the chance to shine and parade the insane effort they put into making Halloween the greatest night of the year.

Bogotá is the place to spend Halloween. Spread the word.

Like this? You’ll love Colombia a comedy of errors.


  1. Tigre Hall

    Tricky Tricky Halloween! Yes, indeed, Vicki, you capture the spectacle quite well. Bogota truly shines with a spectral glow for All Hallows Eve. I love your idea of turning the T into Halloween Central. So many people come out already, so why n ot make a true carnival of it? But, hey, you forgot to mention the spooky (if subdued) afternoon of readings and pre-party festivities at Authors. That could be a great way to launch the entire sha-bang in years to come. Booooo-ha-ha!

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Tiger, I CANNOT believe I forgot to mention the readings at Authors – a fantastic event and not subdued at all – I hope it is going to be an annual event? BRILLIANT Macbeth witches, Dracula, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe etc. etc. You know what? Let’s go the whole hog – Bogota has a Halloween Festival/Parade every year then a Fringe Halloween Festival (usually people prefer the Fringe events anyway) using your idea as a template and launch event – there should be readings, plays, everywhere! Maybe we should form a committee and go have a chat with the tourist board, in time for next year!

  2. John D

    Perhaps next year with some time and while not living out of our suitcases we’ll participate and help spread the word on the T. Luckily I have your pictures (hats off to the guy who went all out for Borat!) to let me know what I missed this year.

  3. thinkCHUA @ LivingIF

    Halloween should be the best holiday of the year, sadly though the costumes and fun always fall short. Apparently though I’ve just been going to the wrong place! I’ll have to hit up Bogota one of these years.

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