TLDR? The Christmas Lights in Medellín will begin on December 7 with the film Encanto as the main theme.
Most of us have fond childhood memories of driving around looking at Christmas lights.
But trust me—you haven’t seen Christmas lights until you’ve seen Medellin. Medellin is famous for its lights, and is said to be the city with the best displays in the country!
This year, the Christmas lights are rumored to be something out of this world. Read on to learn all about the Medellin Christmas lights 2022!
What Are the Christmas Lights in Colombia?
In Medellín, as in all of Colombia, Christmas lights are known as Alumbrados. This tradition is of religious origin and honors the Virgin Mary.
Traditionally, the holiday takes place on December 8th, and is dedicated to the immaculate conception.
However, in addition to the Catholic celebration, Medellín also just comes to life with holiday lights. Everything from the shores of the river to local homes lights up!
Unlike other countries such as the United States or Europe, Christmas in Colombia doesn’t only feature Santa Claus, snowmen, or the huge Christmas trees that you’ll find in New York.
Instead, don’t be surprised to see flowers, TV characters, cartoons, fruits, and Catholic figures on the streets.
A Brief History of Medellin Christmas Lights
The first Medellin Christmas Lights public event took place in 1851 in Plaza Mayor. But the annual display only started happening in 1955. It was the same year when one of Medellin’s utility companies, EPM, collaborated with the press and the government. Thus, Christmas lights were put up in the city.
Alumbrados Navideños features different light displays forming unique patterns and structures. And 2017 marked the year when Medellin witnessed the most number of Christmas lights, reaching approximately 37 million.
However, because of financial constraints and the negative effects of the pandemic, EPM had to decrease the number of Christmas lights displayed during the annual event. Don’t worry because this did not stop locals and even tourists from witnessing the beautiful Alumbrados Navideños every year.
What Is Dia de Las Velitas in Colombia?
The Christmas lights in Colombia start on the aforementioned December 8th, and is called día de las velitas, or day of the little candles.
Locals place candles inside faroles. These are small colored boxes that come in different shapes. Many times, the boxes or the candles themselves feature religious images.
What to Expect From the Medellin Christmas Lighs 2022
If you are already in Medellín or are planning to visit the city this Christmas, it pays to know a bit about the upcoming alumbrado.
Here is everything you need to know about the Medellin Christmas lights in 2022.
Medellin Holiday Lights Start Date
Medellín will continue its tradition by turning on its lights on Wednesday, December 7, on the famous day of the día de las velitas.
This will involve a number of different lights displays around the city as well as local decorated homes in the city.
With the slogan of “Medellín Encanta en Navidad,” you can expect tons of Madrigal family images to pop up around the town.
The city chose this theme because, in addition to being one of the highest-grossing films worldwide in theater and cinema, it represents Colombian culture and traditions.
Where to See the Medellin Christmas Lights 2022
The city confirmed that the rivers will be one of the most prominent places to see the Christmas lights this year. The city will create a path from the Guayaquil bridge to Parques del Río, where you can see the main displays.
This tour can be done walking, so you can enjoy the currents full of colorful holograms, floating figures, and huge decorations Encanto has inspired.
In addition to this space, you can add the following places to your itinerary:
Remember, Medellín has 5 corregimientos, which include San Sebastiánde las Palmitas, Altavista, San Cristobal, San Antonio del Padro y Santa Elena. These places are very close to the city, just half an hour or 40 minutes away, and will all have continuations of the Encanto displays.
In addition, the city isn’t going to be the only one illuminated. The mayor’s office adds around 25 municipalities of Antioquia to the list. So, if you want to escape the city, these are some options:
The list does not end there; in addition to these municipalities, you can visit places further afield like Caucasia, Tarazá, Nechí, Cáceres, and Amalfi.
Where You Can Witness the Christmas Lights
There are several locations where you can witness Alumbrados Navideños in 2022. But we’ll give you the best spots to admire the display.
Parques del Rio Christmas Lights
Parque del Rio is the main location for the Medellin Christmas lights in 2022. This is why expect large crowds and tight walkways where you can capture beautiful pictures.
We suggest starting walking when you arrive at the Industriales Metro station. It’s not that far, and the roads are pretty straightforward. Plus, you’ll already see the lights from afar. All you must do is follow the lights!
If you want to avoid the crowds, arrive at the location early evening at 6 pm or late at 10 pm.
Parque Norte Christmas Lights
Parque Norte has always been the central location for the last eight years. But for 2022, it’s only a secondary location. This location has a shorter walk, but we recommend heading there around 7:30 to 8 pm, after the rush hour.
Parque Norte is one of the city’s famous amusement parks. Entrance is free, but you need to pay for each attraction you wish to try. You can ride the metro and get off at Universidad station. It’s only a few hundred-meter walk to reach Parque Norte.
Parque Norte is also near the Botanical Garden. Why not head there and witness Medellin’s lush nature and head straight to the amusement park to watch the Christmas lights display?
Pueblito Paisa Christmas Lights
Pueblito Paisa is perfect for hikers who want to experience a complete 360-degree of Medellin and its spectacular Christmas lights display.
You have three options when getting to Pueblito Paisa. Renting or self-driving a car is one of the options. And all you must do is pin Pueblito Paisa on Waze or Google Maps. If you’re saving on budget, riding the Metro and getting off at Industriales station is possible. From there, it’s only a few minutes walk.
The last option is to head to Parques del Rio for a more up-close view of the lights after visiting Pueblito Paisa.
La Playa Avenue Christmas Lights
La Playa Avenue is one of the city’s main street centers. It also used to be the main location of the lights display in the olden times. We recommend La Playa Avenue if you wish to avoid large crowds in Parques del Rio.
However, the downside is that the lights in this location are not as beautiful as they are in Parques del Rio or Parque Norte.
You need to reach Teatro Pablo Tobon Uribe to get to La Playa Avenue. From there, walk until you see Parque Berrio Metro Station. If you’re heading to La Playa by riding the metro, leave after the rush hour.
Parque de Envigado Christmas Lights
Parque de Envigado may not be in Medellin, but it’s a recommended location to view the Christmas lights when you want to avoid large crowds. This place is better suitable for large families as you escape the big-city vibes.
You can reach this location by riding the metro and getting off at Evigado station. From there, enjoy a 15-minute walk until you reach the park. Another option is to walk around until you reach Parque de Envigado. This one is perfect when you don’t want to spend on transportation.
Before enjoying beautiful Christmas lights, book a table at Calle de La Buena Masa. It’s a street packed with bars and restaurants, including Barrio Sur. Walk towards the main square to get the best spot to watch the lights display.
Parque de Sabaneta
Another ideal location outside Medellin is Parque de Sabaneta. Like Envigado, this town also features rustic provincial vibes, perfect when you want to avoid large tourist crowds in Parques del Rio.
You can also ride the metro and get off at Sabaneta station to reach the park. From the station, walk for ten minutes. You can also self-drive by pinning Parque de Sabaneta on Waze.
Pro Tips for Enjoying the Alumbrado in Medellin
Spending Christmas in Medellin is definitely unique, and is an amazing way to enjoy the festivities.
If you want to really enjoy the alumbrado, however, there are a couple of pro tips to keep in mind.
For one thing, it pays to note that the Alumbrado will be throughout the city. Although it is very comfortable to get around the city by car, for these days it won’t be your best option. The streets fill with people, so it’s best to stick to public transport or walking.
Another thing to note is that the Alumbrado is full of vendors selling street food. As a result, this might just be the right time to try out some local paisa food.
Here is a list of the most famous foods at Christmas:
Buñuelos: a fried donut made of cheese and pastry.
Natilla: a kind of corn-based flan with a caramel flavor.
Arroz con leche: rice pudding that’s sometimes sweetened with cinnamon or has cheese added to it.
Empanadas: sort of like fried dumplings stuffed with meat and veggies.
Finally, just remember to stay safe! Make sure to tell someone where you’re going, and don’t go anywhere that’s poorly lit.
If you need help, you can ask your Casacol property concierge for a map of where to wander and where not to go.
Street Foods You Need to Try
We know witnessing the Christmas lights in Medellin is a memorable experience. But we definitely think trying out the city’s famous street foods while enjoying the lights will level up your experience. Here are our top picks:
Buñuelos are fried cheese balls famous during the Christmas season in Medellin. These juicy treats are perfect to get while watching the famous Christmas lights in the city. Another fried treats are Hojuelas, famous winter pastries in Colombia.
Hojuelas come in various shapes and designs, including triangular ones like samosas and floral patterns. Another must-try street food is Natilla, a sweet treat featuring delicious custard pudding. Natilla comes in various colors and shapes, depending on the location.
Plus, this delish treat is best served cold!
Chivas – A Unique Way to Witness Medellin Christmas Lights
Another unique way to witness Medellin Christmas lights is to get a hired chiva. A Chiva is a Colombian trademark that can fit at least 20 to 60 passengers. The price ranges from 600,000 to 800,000 Colombian pesos. If you want more features, the rate will definitely increase.
What’s great about this experience is you can expect dancing and music – like a bus party! There are also food and drinks to indulge in while witnessing the Christmas lights.
Check Out Medellin’s Christmas Lights
Now you are an expert and are ready to get out and enjoy everything that the Medellin Christmas lights have to offer.
As per usual, they’re bound to be a doozy. Come see Disney’s homage to Colombian culture, and enjoy a unique way to experience Christmas!
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