One event that Medellín is famous for is the annual Medellín Christmas lights display that is known as Alumbrados Navideños or El Alumbrado.

For the third year in a row there is a major change for the Medelllín Christmas lights display. It won’t be along the normal route along the river with lights strung across the river.

The majority of the Alumbrados Navideños lights display in Medellín this year will be in Carabobo Norte. The primary lights display will be around Parque Explora and inside the Parque Norte amusement park. This is the same location as last year.

You will be able to see Christmas lights in Medellín every night from December 2 until January 8 from 6 pm until midnight every night. In addition, we have photos from this year’s Alumbrados Christmas Lights in Medellín.

Note the above photo is a 24-meter high Christmas tree from last year, which was located in front of Parque Explora.

Christmas lights in Parque Norte last year on a rainy day

Christmas lights in Parque Norte last year on a rainy day

2017 Medellín Christmas Lights

This year is the 50th anniversary of Medellín’s Christmas Lights. The theme this year is “Five Decades of Lighting.”

The Medellín Christmas lights display this year is massive and includes:

  • 37 million LED lights
  • 50,000 hand-woven figures
  • 1,130 kilometers of LED light hose
  • 5 tons of metallized paper

Also, one of the new spaces this year will be a dance floor located on one of the sides of Parque Norte called “come to dance”.

The lights display each year is created by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), the local utility company for the city. Especially relevant, EPM generates much of its power from hydroelectric sources.

Alumbrados Navideños in Medellín each year is a major project that is planned for almost a year. This year about 600 people were involved in planning and manufacturing the Christmas light display for the city.

Besides the main lights display around Parque Explora and inside the Parque Norte amusement park, you will be able to see Christmas lights in many places throughout the metro area.

Pueblito Paisa at Christmas, photo by SajoR

Pueblito Paisa at Christmas, photo by SajoR

You will also find Christmas lights in Medellín on Carrera 70 (Avenida Libertadores de América). In addition, there will be lights in the parks of the 16 comunas in Medellín such as Parque Poblado and the first Laureles park. Each year 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, which I’ve seen are currently being installed.

Furthermore, the December holiday season and Christmas lights display is very important for the economy in Medellín. The many tourists visiting Medellín during the holiday season helps the hospitality and commerce sectors in the city.

Each year up to 4 million people see the Alumbrados Navideños display in the city. And last year an estimated 90,000 tourists visited Medellín to see the world-class Medellín Christmas lights.

Christmas gifts display last year in Parque Norte

Christmas gifts display last year in Parque Norte

History of the Medellín Christmas Lights

The first public Christmas lighting in Medellín reportedly happened in 1851 at Plaza Mayor, with is currently the location of Medellín’s large convention center.

The modern annual Christmas lights display in Medellín began in 1955, when EPM was consolidated as a public utilities company. Starting that year, part of the city was adorned with a modest special Christmas lights display that was jointly funded by EPM, the local government and the press.

By 1967, EPM started to manage Medellín’s Christmas event each year.  In addition, the company became responsible for the design, installation and funding of the light display.

Over the years, the annual Christmas lights were broadened in scope.  They are now considered one of the biggest tourist attractions in Medellin. Tourists come from around the world to Medellín to see Alumbrados Navideños.

Furthermore, 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

Most noteworthy, in December 2012, National Geographic included Medellín in its list as one of the 10 best places in the world to see holiday Christmas lights.  So, the Alumbrados Navideños Christmas Lights display in Medellín is considered world-class.

How to Get to the Primary 2017 Medellín Christmas Lights

The Mayor of Medellín provided the above video showing the route for the primary Alumbrados Navideños lights display this year. The primary Medellín Christmas lights display this year is around Parque Explora and inside Parque Norte.

Admission to Parque Norte in the evening to see the Christmas light display located in the amusement park is free. But if you want to use the park attractions during the day you must buy an entrance ticket.

The best way to get to the primary 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. It has only about 300 parking spaces for cars and 50 spaces for motorcycles. So, we recommend not driving.

Any taxi or Uber driver will also be able to bring you to the primary Medellín Christmas lights display. Just tell the driver: “El Alumbrado, Parque Explora, por favor”.

Each year there is typically a large police presence along the primary Alumbrados Navideños lights display. Plus with many people it’s relatively safe. However, we recommend still taking care as some thieves are attracted to the large number of tourists. Here are some safety tips:

  1. Stay in groups while walking along the route. Don’t walk alone at night through unfamiliar areas.
  2. Never resist if you are a robbery victim. It’s definitely not worth risking your life for a few hundred dollars.
  3. Be careful about displaying your money or valuables like cellphones or cameras.
  4. Be wary of motorcycles, as robberies by people on a motorcycle are common in Medellín.

Also, we recommend bringing an umbrella, as you never know when it might rain. And it’s better to go during the week, as the crowds are much bigger on the weekends. The crowds are also smaller in early December.

Similar to last year, outside of Parque Norte there will be a row of booths lined up selling food and drinks. And there will also be a number of booths selling Christmas themed items and local arts and crafts. In addition, inside Parque Norte you will find many stands selling food and drinks.

Location of the primary Medellín Christmas light display

Christmas tree last year near Parque Explora

Christmas tree last year near Parque Explora

The Bottom Line: Medellín Christmas Lights

The Medellín Christmas lights display is definitely something to see if you are in Medellín anytime in December or in early January. And if you are looking for a reason to visit Medellín, the month of December or early January is a good choice with the world-class Christmas light display.

I look forward to seeing Alumbrados Navideños this year, which will be the largest ever with more lights than in the past.

Unfortunately, the Christmas lights display won’t be along the river for the third year in a row.  I have seen the Christmas lights eight different times in the past and having the lights at Parque Norte and Parque Explorer just isn’t the same.  Here are photos from three previous Alumbrados Navideños or El Alumbrado in Medellín along the river.

2014 Medellín Christmas lights strung across the river

2014 Medellín Christmas lights strung across the river

2013 Medellín Christmas lights strung across the river

2013 Medellín Christmas lights strung across the river

2012 Medellín Christmas lights strung across the river

2012 Medellín Christmas lights strung across the river

Top Things to See and Do in Colombia

On the Medellin Guru website, we have been looking at some of the most beautiful places in Colombia in a series of top things to see and do in Colombia. This is due to many readers asking about several of these things to do in Colombia.

We have looked at 16 of the top things to see and do in Colombia:

  1. Cartagena – Oozing history, romance and sun-drenched beaches, the allure of historical Cartagena is hard to resist.
  2. Caño Cristales – the most beautiful river in Colombia, which has also been called the most beautiful river in the world by some people.
  3. Colombia’s Pacific coast – often overlooked by tourists visiting Colombia but offering untamed nature and undiscovered beauty that is off the beaten path for most foreign tourists.
  4. Las Lajas Sanctuary – the most beautiful church in Colombia, which has also been called the most beautiful church in the world.
  5. Parque Tayrona – known for its beautiful beaches and the world’s highest coastal mountain range.
  6. San Agustín Archaeological Park – the largest group of pre-Columbian monuments and megalithic statues in South America and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  7. San Jose del Guaviare – a hidden gem and eco-tourism location off the beaten path and offering wildlife watching, jungle trekking and delving into Colombia’s prehistoric past.
  8. Ciudad Perdida – the site of an ancient city in Colombia that is older than Machu Picchu in Peru.
  9. Salento and the Cocora Valley – Salento is a picturesque pueblo in Colombia’s coffee region and nearby Cocora Valley is one of the most striking landscapes found in Colombia.
  10. Popayán – a colonial gem in Colombia best known for its white buildings and churches, it’s a city off the beaten path for foreign tourists but is definitely worth visiting.
  11. Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados – a popular national park in Colombia located in the heart of the Colombian coffee region.
  12. Rio Claro Nature Reserve – located about three hours from Medellín, Rio Claro is the perfect place to unplug from hectic daily life and enjoy a picturesque crystal-clear river, canyon and tropical rainforest.
  13. Desierto de la Tatacoa – the second largest arid zone in Colombia is Tatacoa Desert, which has surreal desert landscapes and some of the best stargazing in Colombia.
  14. Carnival in Barranquilla – the second largest carnival in the world.
  15. Medellín’s Christmas lights – Medellín’s annual world-class Christmas lights known as Alumbrados Navideños.
  16. Medellín’s Feria de Las Flores – Medellín’s world-famous flower festival each year.

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