Medellín is a warm friendly city, really a bustling business center, and the Colombian people are gracious hosts. It is a city of eternal spring with moderate temperatures year-round. But for five weeks every year Medellín is the center of all things Christmas.
The largest municipal power corporation in Latin America, EMP, sponsors an extravagant Christmas Festival every year called Alumbrados Navideños or El Alumbrado, in and around its headquarters. There is a city-wide theme for all the decorations.
The year I visited, my excellent guide, Carlos Carmona, showed me around the city to experience his hometown’s celebrations. The theme was the Nativity, and there were all shapes and sizes of Nativity scenes throughout the city, ranging from miniatures to 20 feet tall. These often colorful religious symbols were in stark contrast to the secular tree and Santa displays we are used to being publicly displayed in the US. Colombians do not hesitate to celebrate their religious holidays.
This year is the 52nd anniversary of Medellín’s Christmas display. The theme is an Old Fashioned Christmas, primarily set up along Parque Norte with huge displays and colorful booths. Medellín’s Christmas celebration is second only to the scale and scope of Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro or New Orleans. It is a huge event!
For the greatest infusion of Christmas Spirit, plan a trip to Medellín, Colombia in December. The light show runs from the end of November through the first week in January. Have other Christmas plans? Medellin is fun all year round. There’s great nightlife, many cultural events, fantastic food, and amazing architecture to enjoy. Check out their version of Mardi Gras, the Tango Festival, or the Flower Festival, just three of the many reasons to visit Medellín, Colombia.
American Airlines has connecting flights from everywhere in the US through Miami. www.aa.com
Intercontinental Hotel Medellin – with over 150 hotels in 65 countries, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts are the premier place to stay. It was my choice of where to lay my head.
Hotel Poblado Plaza – Located in the heart of the most exclusive area of Medellín, the Golden Mile of El Poblado neighborhood. This is where the main business and financial corporations of the city meet the shopping malls and restaurants. Or their sister resort: Hotel Poblado Alejandria
Unfortunately, my favorite restaurant in Medellín (Restaurant Bijao) closed since my visit. But I can tell you that the excellence of the place sparked a lively conversation between myself and the Food Editor of the largest local newspaper. We bonded over our admiration for their food. Their guandu & pork riff on a Cartagena seafood dish was amazing!
En Casa de Oliva an equally excellent restaurant with fresh food and a kindly waitstaff
Carlos Carmona is a freelance tour guide in Medellín, Colombia. He embodies the culture and customs of Medellín and its citizens, while sharing a decade of professionally honed skills to show you the real Medellín.