Photo of the Week: Medellin Christmas Display image

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Christmas this year is being spent with friends in sunny Chiang Mai, Thailand. As always it’s hard to feel like Christmas when it’s 30 degrees and you have no oven to cook all the traditional Christmas food. The high number of foreigners in Chiang Mai has meant that the city has made an effort with some hotels and restaurants decorating with Christmas lights and trees.

It’s nothing compared to the huge Christmas light display that Medellin in Colombia puts on each year, known as El Alumbrado Navideño. This photo was taken there last year when we spent two months in the city. It was gaudy but fun and full of Christmas spirit.

Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our guide to the 50 Best Gifts for Travelers. They are ideal for travel lovers who want to pack light and include something for every budget.

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  1. Christmas/Navidad in Medellín is impressive – more than anything, it’s family time – your photo is often called “Alumbrados” by the paisas/locals of Antioquia. From the beginning until the end of December, you can hear the fireworks (“la polvora”) almost constantly. Colombians are randomly launching fireworks from the hills/mountains surround the Aburra Valley (“Valle de Aburrá”). The commercial centers/malls (“centros comerciales” have free mini-concerts of people singing/performing to Christmas songs. The trees in the parks are decorated with Christmas lights. And, between various stops on the high speed, local train (“Metro”), you can see the “Alumbrados”, which is a long, impressive display of Christmas lights along the river. People go to see the “Alumbrados” as a Christmas destination, which is a walk along the river. Should you find it helpful, I’ve been organizing info about Medellín and Colombia at (e.g., places/sites, commercial centers/malls, transportation, music/dance).


  2. Wow! That’s amazing! I’ve heard of the Christmas display in Medellin, and would love to go someday. It’s great to hear of more people traveling to Colombia these days. It’s on our must-do list. Merry Christmas!


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