The first thing you need to know is that much has changed in Medellín over the last few decades. Colombia’s second-largest city is now a lively, stylish hub of culture and creativity.

It’s nestled in a narrow valley where cut flowers and textiles are the major trades. And, while a temperate climate makes it a year-round destination, December is one of the best times to visit.

Why? Medellí­n is one of the top places in the world to see Christmas lights, according to a recent National Geographic article.

Alumbrado Navideno en Medellin- Turismo

They’ve been hanging Christmas lights in Medellín for over 160 years. With travel to Colombia on the rise, it’s my pleasure to share what it’s like there during the Christmas season.

Hint: It involves 31 million LED lights. Yes, that’s 31 million lights in addition to over 950 kilometers of rope lighting.

Christmas lights in Medellin over the river.
A Christmas light display in Medellín, Colombia.

About Medellí­n’s Christmas Lights

The Christmas lights in Medellín are referred to in Spanish as the “Lighting” (El Alumbrado) or more officially the EPM Lights (Alumbrados EPM). The reason for the latter is that this seasonal event is now organized by the public utility company, Empresas Pàºblicas de Medellí­n (EPM).

Putting together some of the 31 million Christmas lights of Medellin.

Medellí­n is the only city in South America that is part of the assembly of illuminated cities of the world – LUCI- (Lighting Urban Community International).

It used to be that the lights officially switched on on December 7 to coincide with Little Candle’s Day, a major holiday in Colombia where people place candles in windows and other places in honor of the Virgin Mary.


But to accommodate a rise and tourism during this season, which can be credited in part to these lights, the dates have backed up a bit.

Some of these lights are powered by solar energy, a tradition that started in 2014.

Where to See El Alumbrado

The central node will be located in Carabobo Norte. The monumental figures can be seen in the North Park, which will have free admission. And there are many lights over the river.

Christmas lights in Medellín over the river
Medellí­n Christmas lights over the river.

Lights are also spread through over 100 parks and neighborhoods. People walk the lights after sundown because it’s still a fairly warm 70° F+ here even in December. Vendors sell cotton candy, glow sticks and other treats while street performers entertain.

Live entertainment happens during the Christmas season in Medellí­n

It’s a truly special time in the city.

Many recreational parks and museums have free entry for children under 12 years old. If you are going to visit museums in Medellín, the Museum of Antioquia is a must. It’s an art museum which houses a large collection of works by Medellí­n artists.

The Museo de Antioquia is free during the Christmas season in Medellín, Colombia.

More Things to Do in Medellí­n

And, back to the cut flowers… how amazing are these? The annual flower festival, known as the Feria de Las Flores, runs for ten days in August and is one of the city’s most famous events. Medellí­n is one of the top suppliers of cut flowers in the entire world.

Medellín, Colombia is famous for cut flowers which is celebrated in a major August festival.

One of the city’s transportation modes involves cable cars that allow residents to reach the edges of the city while taking in sky-high views along the way.

The Metrocable in Medellín is a cable propelled transit system designed to compliment the metro and reach less developed parts of the city. Imagine the views!

The myriad of parks are beautiful, including Parque Explora with its aquarium and planetarium.

Parque Explora in Medellín, Colombia has an aquarium and planetarium.

But there are many parks you must enjoy.

How to Get to Medellín

Tips for getting to Medellín, Colombia

It is fairly easy to get to Medellín from San Diego with a connection in Miami, much like how we travel from here to the Caribbean. In fact, Medellí­n is only 3.5 hours from Miami by plane.

A panoramic view of Medellín, Colombia

Have you been to Medellín?

Photos are used courtesy of Medellí­, the city’s tourism board, who has graciously sponsored this post

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Hi LJM ;),

    Wow! 31 million lights?! And I thought my neighbor with the tacky lights had the record LOL. Amazing images and awesome custom too. I used to like only white or brighter colored lights for Christmas but over time I appreciated all different colored lights. Adds a bunch of contrast to the mix.

    Thanks for sharing.