Alumbrados: Lighting up the Night in Medellín

While on my way across a small stretch of the city, a man on the metro asked:

“¿Sabes Exposiciones?”

No tengo idea.”

He laughed at the coincidence that we were both newcomers while I noticed a subway map and pointed it out to him.  Exposiciones turned out to be two stops ahead.  He laughed again, but this time out of embarrassment.

A seat opened up next to a woman in his group.  There were about five of them spanning three generations I assumed.  She explained that they were going to visit an amazing holiday light show that will only be in effect for a few more days and won’t be up again until before Christmas next year.

We saw the lights along the river from the metro car.

The woman explained that she was Colombian but now lived in St. Louis.  She then asked that I join them.  I thought: This is a group oriented culture.  She seems to respect me for traveling alone and probably figures I’d love to check out the exhibition with others instead of by myself.  She seems to love speaking English to a fellow resident of North America.

I said that maybe I’d catch them there later as I had to pick-up my phone in Poblado first.

When I made it back to the Exposiciones station I decided to get off and check out the display.   I was amazed by the unique sites that I saw.  It was like a mini Disneyworld high up in the Andes.  A luminous array of lights jutted straight up and high into the night.

Illuminated gigantic walls lined the Medellín river.  The virtual floats were colorful and tailored with creative care.  They must have stretched for over a kilometer.   Virtual balloons, flowers, flying contraptions, houses, lanterns, stars, and general art were among the artistically magical arrangements.

Others were snapping photos like I was.

At times I became distracted by the different food options.  Across from the lights, ran food and alcohol stands galore.

There were temporary bars serving Colombian beer, rum and aguardiente. I complimented a delicious bag of freshly popped caramel popcorn with a premium Club Colombiano beer.

On offer were whole fish and huge slabs of beef and pork.    There were arepas and empanadas.  Like all over Medellín there was varied sausage, bacon and ham.  You could get loaded burgers and dogs and Hawaiian or mixed-pork pizza.  I thought:  This is North American/South American fast food fusion.

Potato soup and freshly grilled corn on the cob were two of the healthier options available.

Like everywhere in the city, fruit was ubiquitous, along with juice options.

There was no shortage of ice cream, cotton candy or chocolate covered strawberries.  I sampled a homemade dona or donut and thought: Funny translation slash anglicization.  Artisan stands squeezed beside food vendors as well.

I managed to leave and catch the metro before it stopped at 11pm.  While walking back to my hotel from the Prado metro stop, I thought: What a nativity celebration.  I’ve never seen anything like itWhile on my way to pick up my phone which was being internationalized for a local SIM card, I’d found out about an amazing local tradition and experienced it with awe and wonder.

Here are a few more pics:


This photo allows you to appreciate just how high the displays are.

This is the part that reminded me of Disneyworld.

With visual stimulation like this,  it was impossible to refrain from snapping a few shots.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

The Alumbrados Navideños takes place all over Medellín during the holiday season.   The photos above are from the Alumbrados along the city’s river walk, which features the most prominent display of these Christmas Lights.

The purpose of the lights along the river walk is to shine positive light upon the 16 communes and five townships of Medellin.

Across the city there were over 15 million light bulbs lit simultaneously.

This past holiday season’s light show started on December 3, and just finished three nights ago on January 9.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Your blog is becoming a kind of My little window to the travelling world! Keep drifting!


  2. Great pics..very festive appearing. Just wondering if you also saw any displays that honored the birth of Jesus among all festivities?


  3. Posted by Mamma on January 12, 2012 at 21:46

    sooo nice…


  4. Sounds fantastic, an assault on the senses! Really looking forward to traveling to Columbia, I have heard so many good things about the country. Happy drifting 🙂


  5. Posted by Al on January 12, 2012 at 14:07

    Cool, nice pictures!


    • AL: Thanks, unfortunately there weren’t many great ones as my camera does funny things while taking night shots. I get a lot of spots, so I had to crop what I could out. But yeah, those alumbrados sure provide for great photo exploration.


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