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.