Posted by: adventuressetravels | August 8, 2010

the Light Fantastic

Medellin, the city of eternal spring.  There are many cities that claim that prestigious moniker but in my experience only Medellin measures up.  Colombia’s second largest city boasts a year-round idyllic temperature hovering around a balmy 75 (25 C).  On my first visit to this mountain paradise, purely by chance I happened upon one of the city’s most popular celebrations.  The famed Christmas lights of Medellin.

In Colombia every city clothes itself in a twinkling array of lights, each town trying to outdo the other.  Medellin’s display, however, far and away out does even the most ambitious of its competitors.

Starting their set-up in mid-July, the light company festoons the city, covering each street, building, and hilltop in a veritable sea of lights.  The piece de resistance, however, is the river.  Turning the waterway into a monumental fountain running the length of the

city, it shoots streams of color and height changing water up in great arcs.   Running along side of this great fountain are eye-popping panoramic larger-than-life displays of lights that would put even the most ambitious Midwesterner’s light display to shame.

Each year these displays change in theme always hoping to outdo the last.  In 2009, the festival theme was water, and the city spent over 10 billion dollars to make its tribute to water unforgettable.  From Christopher Columbus discovering the Americas, to little villages, each display, some as tall as 130 feet, is a wonder to behold and certainly enough to burn an onlooker’s retinas out.

True to Colombia’s Catholic roots, of course, the nativity scene is the largest and most impressive. So large one cannot even see the entire thing from the same side of the river!

Not just a light show, the city truly makes a festival around these lights.  Investing billions of dollars, this spectacular is truly overwhelming.  Throngs of people line the river, parents bring their children to ride an array of rides entrepreneurs have set up near the lights.  Food vendors line the streets peddling their wares, selling Santas frozen mixed drinks, all varieties of fried foods, popcorn, and a plethora of carnival fare.

The lights of Medellin really are something that must be seen to be believed, and I do recommend paying the city of eternal spring a visit around the holidays one year.  It’s so nice to have a break from the bitter cold of North America’s December and fascinating to see how another culture celebrates this holiday.  It is a very different take on Christmas from anything I had ever witnessed.  No matter what your faith, the event is a remarkable one.

I recommend paying Medellin a visit in December or January.  You have a full month to see them – they go up with a big party in the middle December and stay up until the middle of January!  It’s something that everyone should try and see at least once in their lives…

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