From Christmas carols to twinkling lights, to a hope of snow, or an escape from the snow, the most festive time of the year is yet again upon us. While you’re digging your box of lights from the depths of your basement or the top of your attic, towns and buildings all over the world have been set up for months. From Madrid to Kobe, and everywhere in between, cities put on magnificent winter wonderland displays using white or colored LED lights. One of these cities lies right in South America.
Medellin, Colombia is quickly becoming one of the hottest trip destinations. The city is home to cultural museums, a thriving nightlife, and innovation and creativity galore. The city is also home to millions of twinkling lights through the month of December, creating a holiday show like none you’ve seen before.
“El Alumbrado”, or “The Lighting” as it’s called in English, takes place from Dec. 2-Jan. 8 this year. Celebrating 50 years of EPM’s magnificent Christmas show, the lights will be on from 6 pm through midnight. The theme of this years light spectacular is “estamos de fiesta” or “we’re celebrating”. With 37 million lights, 50,000 figures, 27 moving structures, 66 LED projections, one hologram, one water show, and one “mapping” feature showing you the history of Medellin’s lights since 1967, you can bet it’s lit. Check out our guide to the Medellin holiday lights.
Located by the metro stop ‘universidad’, this amusement park is slated as the main light show for the second year in a row. In the past, the lights filled up the ‘Rio Medellin’, but now that the city is working on a construction project along the river, the lights have found a new home. The park offers free admission during the Christmas season, but to ride the rides or play the games, individual tickets are available for purchase.
Upon entering the small amusement park, you will be greeted by a 50-foot-tall, 127-foot-wide Nativity Scene. Wander through the park’s colored lights and find your way to the lake, where a surprise light show will take place. Like to dance? Check out the dance hall, specially created for the holiday season.
On Avenida La Playa there will be 17 different light scenes creating a colorful LED roof over the road, spanning almost a half mile from Pablo Tobon Theater to Avenida Oriental. At the end of this colorful drive, you’ll find a 70-foot lit up statue of the Three Kings. The lights continue down the Avenida Junin. Look out for the giant Christmas tree! The old EPM building, Edificio Miguel de Aguinaga, will be lit up and decorated to look like a giant Christmas tree with green metallic paper and lights spanning the structure. Head to Parque San Antonio, home to Fernando Botero’s famous “birds of peace” statues, and Parque Bolivar, home to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellin, to catch the lights, and Parque Aranjuez, near the botanical garden and planetarium, to catch more light displays.
The main parks of every comuna of the city, plus the surrounding corregimientos (villages), and municipalities will feature their own Christmas light display. If you’re in the north of the city, you’ll be able to see the lights at Parque Santo Domingo Savio, and along Calle 107, both of which you’ll catch a glimpse of if you take the metrocable toward Parque Arvi.
In the south of the city, Parque Poblado, home to all the nightlife, restaurants, and cafes you need will put on a light display. Parque Cristo Rey near the domestic airport, Parque Belen, in the Belen neighborhood will also be lit, as well as the first park of Laureles, Carrera 70, Estadio Atanasio Girardot, and Parque Floresta in the west of Medellin. This area is similar to El Poblado, but a little bit less touristy, giving you restaurants, cafes, and dancing, with a little more authenticity.
Outside the city, Parque Envigado, Parque Itagui, Parque Sabaneta, and Parque San Antonio de Prado are all filled with colorful displays, as well as local restaurants and bars for you to get to know some less tourist-filled parts of the Medellin Metropolitan Area.
Another park you can’t miss sits above the city atop Cerro Nutibara. The 262-foot high hill houses Pueblito Paisa, a replica of a traditional Antioqueno town. Aside from 360-views of the whole city, the site will have its own lights on display. Go late in the afternoon to check out the views while it’s still light out, then watch the sky turn orange, pink, and purple as the sun sets over the city of eternal spring. Then stay to watch the lights come to life – both the Christmas lights of Pueblito Paisa and the lights of the sprawling city below you.
Read more about Medellin on ATR
Read more about the holiday season on ATR