The most magical time of the year is once again upon us and now, more than ever, the world needs a little more cheer and joy to brighten our days. While we’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” seasoned travelers know that Christmastime can be the most rewarding opportunity to visit somewhere new.
Throughout the month of December, people are merry, welcoming and inviting. Good deals are everywhere to be found. Menus change to offer new holiday dishes and the decorations that adorn cityscapes reflect the romantic and cozy vibes that fill the streets.
Growing up in Minnesota, my all-time favorite holiday tradition had been driving in the car the weekend after Thanksgiving to “ohh” and “ahh” over neighborhoods decked out in Christmas lights and elaborate nativity scenes. The tackier the better, right?
So when I heard of Medellín’s massive , I heard to learn more!
My first visit to Medellín was four years ago, while backpacking through Central and South America on my way to establish Bolivia as my new base. I immediately fell in love with Colombia’s vibrant energy and carefree culture. It’s hard not to enjoy a country that manages to beautifully merge modernity with traditional values and charm. I spent three weeks sipping coffee and hiking through the countryside without realizing I was this close to experiencing one the nation’s most impressive events of the year.
Medellín Lights Festival (Alumbrado Navideño)
Colombia’s second largest city lights up like no other place in South America for Christmas, illuminating Medellín with over 31 million LED light bulbs and 42,000 decorative displays for over a month.
31 MILLION LIGHT BULBS!
If that’s hard to believe, imagine this incredible operation run on clean, renewable energy in a developing country!
Medellín is the only city in South America to join LUCI (Lighting Urban Community International), a network of international urban planners and energy professionals that “use light as a tool for sustainable urban, social and economic development.” With this commitment to caring for the environment and conserving energy consumption, the Christmas lights festival will use 40% less energy with LED bulbs and will be powered by solar panels in many areas across the city.
This 50-year-old tradition draws thousands of visitors both locally and worldwide to share in the unique community experience that Medellín has created to bring people together for the holidays. After all, this year’s theme is, “Medellín, one big family during Christmas.”
Throughout the month of December, light displays will be scattered throughout the northern part of the city, focused in Carabobo Norte , and conveniently situated near tourist hotspots including Parque Explora , Botanic Garden , and Parque de los Deseos . The lake of Parque Norte will be the epicenter of the light scenes (this year’s home of the Star of David), while the most impressive installation—an 80-foot tall Christmas tree—will be located in Parque Explora. That’s the size of an 8-story building! The city will flip the switch for the first time on November 30 at 6:30pm . If you are traveling in the area, this is a unique (and local) ceremony you won’t want to miss!
Bookmark this page and use this info as a base for your Medellín 2016 light spectacle experience!
Know Before You Go
- Medellín will light up everyday from November 30 to January 9, 2017 from 6pm to midnight .
- Entrance to the parks and areas of light displays is free to the public.
- Visit on the web and download the for the most up-to-date info while planning your visit and touring the city.
- Safety in Medellin has improved significantly over the last 15 years. Just as with any large city around the world, always be aware of your surroundings, travel in groups, and stick to well-lit areas while out late at night.
This post is brought to you in sponsorship with Medellín Travel. As always, opinions expressed are my own. Photos courtesy EPM (Empresas Públicas de Medellín) and Medellín Travel.
I get excited at the houses in the street putting one decoration up in their window. Not sure how I would cope seeing these amazing displays. These just look amazing!! Is a great read as I did not even though this happened. Now I know where i want to spend next Christmas.
I KNOW!!! I can’t help but think of Martha May Whovier from the Grinch looking at all of these lights! Medellín has taken their Christmas decorations to a whole new level, it’s mesmerizing. Happy holidays!
Hey Jess! Just popped pver from Instagram, lovely post here. Makes me want to head on a plane right now!!:) it’s also good to see how you puf it out there: you do not need to celebrate Christmas with your family.
Thanks for stopping by, Finja! Christmas with the family is always wonderful, but there are so many beautiful and magic moments to be seen around the world during the holidays that a family trip would be an even better way to spend time with loved ones! Especially in a place like this! Saludos!
I want to go! It looks amazing!
It surely is incredible!
This is spectacular. I can’t believe how many lights they use and love that they are involved in eco-friendly practices. It’s almost overwhelming, I can only imagine what it is like in person. I’ve wanted to visit Columbia for years. Makes me think winter might be the best time! Thanks for sharing!
It is unbelievable how many lights are used!! All I can think is “Take that, Marth May Whovier!” It is such a unique experience to not only Colombia, but all of South America! Cheers, Sarah
OMG the lights are fantastic there. So beautiful, they are even better than Sydney I think! Thanks for the post and showing me a sparkling side of Colombia I’ve never seen 🙂
It is definitely a unique experience only to be seen in Medellín! Does Sydney also go all out for Christmas? Happy travels, Crystal!
So I was all set to visit Medellin in February and then you have to dangle all this awesomeness int front of me. What an unbelievable light festival. I love it! Must see!! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely keep this on my radar.
Wow, those lights are INCREDIBLE! Medellin is so on my list for next year. Thanks for sharing! Happy travels 🙂
I had no idea Christmas was such a big thing in Colombia! The lights are amazing. Better than many places I’ve seen in the states
Wow, the lights are stunning! I was recently in Cartagena but didn’t make it to Medellin. Will definitely have to add it to my list.
Looks like straight out of a fairy tale or a holiday-themed dream!
We’re also enjoying some festive decorations now in Germany, but I think that when it comes to lights, Colombia wins. 🙂
I’d just miss the hot winein Medellin… 😉
This is beyond beautiful, I do wonder how this is possible in a developing country. But wow I would probably need another prescription for my glasses, but it would be so worthed!
Great Photos. I can’t wait to go next year. I’ll be doing South America for a year or 2 and will be in Medellin for Christmas for sure. I like to travel slowly, spending 3-6 months in a place and then moving on to the next destination.
I would love to spend Christmas in this beautiful place, Jessica! Columbia is marvelous!