One event that Medellín is really famous for is the annual Medellín Christmas lights display that is known as Los Alumbrados or Alumbrados Navideños.
Unfortunately, for the third year in a row the major Christmas lights display in Medellín isn’t along the normal route along the river with lights strung across the river.
The majority of the Alumbrados lights display in Medellín this year are located in Carabobo Norte. The primary Christmas lights display this year is around Parque Explora and inside the Parque Norte amusement park. This is the exact same location as last year.
You can see the Medellín Christmas lights every night from December 2 until January 8 from 6 pm until midnight every night.
I went on the first night this year on December 2 and took many photos found in this article. We previously provided a very popular guide to the Medellín Christmas lights. And in this article, we now provide photos from this year’s Alumbrados Christmas lights.
2017 Medellín Alumbrados (Christmas Lights)
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Medellín’s Alumbrados (Christmas Lights). The theme this year is “Five Decades of Lighting.”
The Medellín Christmas lights display this year is huge and includes:
- 37 million LED lights
- 1,130 kilometers of LED light hose
- 50,000 hand-woven figures
- 5 tons of metallized paper
Also, one of the new spaces this year is a dance floor located as you enter Parque Norte called “come to dance”.
The Christmas lights display each year is created by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), the local utility company for the city. Most notable, EPM generates much of its power from hydroelectric sources. The assembly of the Christmas lighting in the city this year reportedly required an investment by EPM of close to 15 billion pesos (about $5 million USD).
Here are several photos taken at the 2017 Alumbrados around Parque Explora and inside Parque Norte:
Los Alumbrados and the Christmas holiday in Medellín is very important for the economy in Medellín. The many tourists visiting Medellín during the holiday season greatly helps the hospitality and commerce sectors in the city.
The city of Medellín estimates that about 1.2 million visitors will arrive in the Medellín metro area in December to enjoy the Christmas holidays. This is expected to include an estimated 70,000 foreigners arriving in December.
Besides tourists, many visitors come to Medellín to visit family in the Medellín area during the Christmas holiday season. And it’s a peak hotel and furnished apartment rental time in the city.
Other Places to See Christmas Lights in the Medellín Metro Area
You can find Christmas lights in Medellín on Carrera 70 (Avenida Libertadores de América). In addition, there are Christmas lights in the primary parks of the 16 comunas in Medellín such as Parque Poblado and the first Laureles park. There are also Christmas lights at Pueblito Paisa.
Christmas lights can also be seen in the main parks in other municipalities in the metro area including Envigado, Sabaneta and Bello.
The most popular places for Christmas lights outside of the main light display around Parque Explora and inside Parque Norte are typically at Pueblito Paisa and at Parque Sabaneta.
Parque Sabaneta is already popular on weekends with people coming there from other parts of the metro area. But Parque Sabaneta becomes even more popular during Christmas with its Christmas lights. This weekend Parque Sabaneta was very busy.
History of Alumbrados
The first public Christmas lighting in Medellín reportedly happened in 1851 at Plaza Mayor. This is currently the location of Medellín’s large convention center.
The modern annual Los Alumbrados (Christmas lights) display in Medellín began in 1955, when EPM was consolidated as a public utilities company. Starting in 1955, part of the city was adorned with a modest special Christmas lights display. This was jointly funded by EPM, the local government and the press.
By 1967, EPM started to manage Medellín’s El Alubrados event each year. In addition, the company became responsible for the design, installation and funding of the Christmas light display.
Over the years, the annual Christmas lights grew to become much larger and important for the city. El Alumbrados is now considered one of the biggest tourist attractions in Medellin. Tourists come from around the world to Medellín to see El Alumbrados.
In addition, the number of Christmas lights installed in Medellín has been growing over the past several years:
- 2006 – 12.5 million lights
- 2008 – 14.5 million lights
- 2013 – 27 million lights
- 2014 – 30 million lights
- 2015 and 2016 – 31 million lights
- 2017 – 37 million lights
In December 2012, National Geographic even included Medellín in its list as one of the 10 best places in the world to see holiday Christmas lights. So, Los Alumbrados Christmas lights display in Medellín is considered world-class.
How to Get to the Primary 2017 Alumbrados
The Medellín Mayor provided the above video showing the route for Alumbrados around Parque Explora and inside Parque Norte.
The best way to get to the primary Los Alumbrados (Christmas lights) display is to take the Medellín metro Line A to Universidad station. Fortunately, Parque Explora and Parque Norte are located very close to this this metro station.
There isn’t much parking at Parque Norte. And it has only about 300 parking spaces for cars and 50 spaces for motorcycles. So, we recommend not driving.
Any taxi driver will also be able to bring you to the primary Medellín Christmas lights display. Just tell the driver: “Los Alumbrados, Parque Explora, por favor”. But it will be difficult to find a taxi once you are there with the 10s of thousands of people there each night.
The bottom line is the metro is the best way to get to and from the primary. In addition, the metro system has extended its hours on several days during the holiday season:
- On Fridays – December 15 and 22 the metro operates one hour later until midnight
- On Saturdays – December 2, 9, 16 and 23 the metro operates until midnight
- On December 7 – the metro operates until midnight
The extended metro hours are good since the Alumbrados hours are until midnight each night. However, on December 24 and 31 the metro operates only until 9 pm.
In addition, please note that entry to Parque Norte is free to see the Christmas lights inside the amusement park. Also, many of the rides are open at night in the Parque Norte amusement park during the Christmas lights display. So, if you want to use the rides you’ll have to pay an admission fee to receive a bracelet that is needed to use the rides in the park.
Food Available at the Primary 2017 Alumbrados
Outside Parque Norte along Carrera 53 you will see a long row of booths set up that are selling food and drinks. Furthermore, you can find many types of food here including traditional Colombian dishes, pizza, hotdogs, cotton candy as well as many different Colombian street food options.
In addition, inside Parque Norte, besides the normal restaurants, you will find many stands set up selling food and drinks along the route around the lake in the amusement park.
Past Years – Alumbrados Along the River
The past three years the Christmas lights in Medellín haven’t been along the normal route along the river. In my opinion, the normal Alumbrados Christmas lights route along the river was a better location with the Christmas lights strung across the river.
The location this year and last year in Parque Norte is a nice location with lights strung around the lake in the amusement park. But in my opinion, it just doesn’t compare to the previous route along the river. So, I hope the Christmas lights return to the river next year.
The Bottom Line: Los Alumbrados – Medellín’s Christmas Lights
Los Alumbrados is a must-see thing to do if you are in Medellín in December or early January. And if you are looking for a reason to visit Medellín, the world-class Alumbrados Christmas lights in Medellín are considered by many to be a very good reason.
Even though the Christmas lights aren’t along the river this year, they are still impressive and worth seeing. Also, the Christmas lights display is extremely popular with families. So, you will see many children with their families along the route.
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Thanks! Nice photos of the Christmas lights in Medellin this year. I look forward to going to see them this week.
Great post with some good photos. This year will be my third year to see the Medellin Christmas lights so I haven´t seen them along the river. But I hope they return to the river as it seems to be more impressive with lights across the river.
Thanks for this post. I am planning to go to see the Christmas lights this week. Is it better to go on the weekend or during the week?
Hi John, the crowds will be smaller during the week on Monday to Thursday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will normally have the biggest crowds in my experience.
My friends and I hired a guide and driver from Latin Hosts to take us around all the lights in town. It wasn’t super cheap at $65 total. But it made the 4 hour tour stress free. Highly recommend this option.
Nice article.. like you I hope the lights return to the river..think its lost a little of its magic but still worth the visit..
Hi Sean, thanks. Yes, still worth the visit but I hope the Christmas lights return to the river next year.
We love your pictures and your great guide to the lights! We’re visiting this Christmas and really looking forward to it.
Do you know, are restaurants and bars usually open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Or does everything shut down for the holidays?
Philly and Martina, from London
Thanks. Hope you have fun here. In my experience, a few restaurants will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But unfortunately I don’t have a list. I recommend calling to find out.
Thanks Jeff, happy Christmas!
Jeff: I’d like to use one of your pictures on my blog, do I have your permission? It’s a shot of the dance venue at Parque Norte.
Sure go ahead, just make sure to give credit for the photo to Medellin Guru. And a link back if possible.
Thanks, Jeff, I sure will