Here are some suggestions that might help future Barranquilla Carnival goers since we didn’t find much prior info. Hope this helps.
Book your accommodations months ahead. The day before the parade we went to the Tuboleta ticket office and each paid about $100US for 3-days in Palco 12 (bleachers) on the shady side. We bypassed more expensive offers that included food packages and avoided scalpers outside their office.
Bring your camera, sunscreen and some taxi and food money, nothing valuable. Security screened tickets blocks before the entrance and the only opportunity to buy tickets at the event was from a few scalpers. Each pair of palcos had their separate entrance behind the bleachers. They didn’t let food or drinks in but you could buy food inside. We received a tshirt, hat and small bag. There was live music and some performers staged photo shoots while we waited for the parade to start around 1 or 2p.
Pay more for palco tickets on the shady side. Get there early since seats are not assigned. We were lucky to be across from tv commentators where performers stopped to pose for their cameras. Head to the back row if you need back support, but the tarp overhang can obscure your pictures. We preferred the front row and two hours was all we could take on the hard bleacher seats. Portable toilets were gender specific, very clean and medical and security personnel were present. Carnival souvenirs were available at a market along Calle 72 by the Estadio Olimpico Romelio Martinez, not at the parade. Streets were blocked so there was some walking. Taxis were easier to find on side streets and drivers didn’t overcharge. The three of us each had cameras so it was great having 3 sets of pictures to choose from and so many photo opps. Colombians were friendly and helpful on our 10 day travels through Barranquilla, Cartagena and Bogota. This was my fourth annual world carnival.
Day one, Saturday: Batalla de Flores: This was the most heavily attended day. We saw a procession of dancers, bands on trucks and colorful floats. We didn’t see any flower battles or even “flour” battles we’d read about. A few people sprayed foam but mostly on family members and friends.
Day 2: Gran Parada de Tradicion: Beautiful costumes and participation by all ages and areas
Day 3: Gran Parada de Fantasia: We called this “Las Vegas” day with all the glitter and feathers