Medellin Christmas Lights

Medellin Christmas Lights

We have talked about traveling to Medellin and things to do there.  Hopefully I have mentioned the best times to visit Medellín but if I have somehow up to now neglected such information, let me take this time to offer up a glimpse of what Medellín Christmas lights experience is.

As winter is now in full swing and I am filled with the Christmas spirit, it brings to mind the stunning Christmas lights of Medellín.  You can probably see where I am going with this now but let me spell it out in plain English just in case: one of the best times you can visit Medellín, Colombia is during the month of December if only to experience the Medellín Christmas lights

That’s right I said experience, not see.  Medellín Christmas lights are an experience as the whole city is adorned in brilliant light and breathtaking designs.  If you are in Medellín during the holiday you must visit the Medellin River.  Millions of dollars are spent each year for Medellin Alumbrados (Medellin Christmas lighting) and the river decorations are the focal point of the effort.

The designs are amazing.  There are the traditional images you think of when you think of Christmas like candy canes and Santa Claus and then there are unique and artistic lighting designs.  For example you will probably see huge fish composed of light and wire framing along the river as well as lily pads lit up in green hovering above the water.

Medellín goes big too.  The sizes of the lighting installments are enormous.  Entire buildings are blanketed in light.  Major thoroughfares are lined top to bottom, end to end with stellar points of illumination.  You will likely see giant flowers, birds, Christmas presents and even elves represented in glorious light.

Medellin Christmas Lights

Medellin Christmas Lights

Medellín Christmas Lights Are a Serious Tradition

You may have thought that Christmas lights were a big deal here in the States but Colombians take their X-mas lights very seriously.  The tradition was born in 1851 when the Plaza Mayor was the locale for the very first public Alumbrados in Medellin.  It was revamped in 1955 when the Empresas Publicas de Medellin was formed.  The EPM is essentially a utility company and they took it upon themselves to revive the tradition and are now major players of the Alumbrados every year.

The Medellin Alumbrados exemplify the Christmas themes of unity and peace quite well because the whole ordeal is very much a community effort.

The EPM organizes most of the lighting but the community is called upon for help and ideas for concepts.  The whole thing really is an experience.  For example in 2014 there was not only a theme to the lighting but a story to go along with the installments as well.  The story was about a girl named Paloma who traveled down the Medellin River to learn about important human values.

Each year has a different theme that reflects the traditions of Colombia and the Christmas spirit as well.  The EPM and volunteers spend the whole month of November preparing for the Alumbrado and the lights are usually switched on and presented on December 7th the day before celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception or el día de las velitas.  Thousands of tourists descend on Medellin every holiday season just to see these world famous lights.

A Site that Words Fail

To put it simply, words cannot convey the beauty of the Alumbrado Navideño.  The installments are wondrous, enchanting, inspiring and oddly humbling.  The behemoths of light make you feel small somehow and their beauty make one appreciate the grander aesthetics of the world.

The Medellín Christmas lights can take you to another world and make you see our world in a new way.  You can spend hours wandering around the city and taking in the lights which would be worth the trip alone.

So, if you were to ask me about the best times to visit Medellin, December would definitely be one of them. For more about Colombian culture, read visiting Medellín during Feria de Las Flores.

About Brandon Gonzo

I grew up in Los Angeles, privileged by the hard work of my single Latino mother. While most of my peers were still wondering what they wanted to do, I was fortunate and foolish enough to know with certainty I wanted to write, and there was little anyone else could do or say to try and divert me.
I am as passionate about turning words into prose as I was when I was first stunned by the literary fluency of authors like Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson.

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