There was a Christmas party last night for three million friends; they were mostly Colombians but visitors joined them to fill the streets of Medellin, and line the Medellin River to watch a spectacular light and water display and fireworks well into the night. It was a time of joy and happiness, friendship, excitement and food in this city high in the mountains of Colombia.
Every year Medellin celebrates the holiday season with a display of lights seldom equaled anywhere in the world. Sponsored by the local power company and the city government, the streets of the city come alive with strings of lights, lighted panels and holiday scenes in bright colors. Along the Medellin River more lights add to the spectacle, and the city’s fountains flow and dance in vivid color.
Medellin’s Shopping Malls Lighted for Christmas
The display is not limited to the public effort. Department stores and the more than 40 shopping centers around Medellin, some built on the sides of the steep mountains surrounding the city, add their own expansive indoor and outdoor displays. Public and private buildings in the city center and on the mountainsides above are bathed in colorful lights throughout the night, some with changing colors and moving patterns of light.
What began as a small celebration in the 1960s has now become one of the two most anticipated annual events in this community of 3,750,000 people. This year’s display is one of the largest in the history of the event. This year’s show cost about $9 million dollars (including some basic hydraulic infrastructure). More than 211 miles (340 kilometers) of hose and pipe tie together the water system.
Magical Light Display Every Night
After the gigantic opening party, every evening the magic unfolds anew. Dancing fountains are bathed in light that change color in time with music and projections dance in the plumes of water. Along the length of the Medellin River lights seem to float as fountains of dancing colored waters rise above it. Huge Christmas scenes in brilliant colored lights line riverfront parks that are filled with people of all ages. Along the streets vendors sell souvenirs, but mostly food – fresh-cooked bunuelos, arepas, roasted ears of corn, skewers of chicken and beef and sausages of all kinds.
During the Source of Light the Pueblito Paisa park, on a hill that rises from the middle of the city, is bathed in moving light that seems to pulse with life. People climb through the paths that wind to the top, immersing themselves in the wonder of the light.
Dates and How to Get There
The Source of Light celebration in Medellin opens with a spectacular show and fireworks on December 5, and continues through January 12. Medellin, a city that still suffers from a bad reputation from the political and drug-related problems in the 1980s and ’90s, has changed itself into a city of peace and security. Today it is a beautiful modern –and safe – city, with all the facilities and attractions a traveler hopes for. It is filled with museums and has one of the most active nightlife scenes in South America. Medellin can be reached easily from major US airports via American Airlines, connecting through Miami.