Christmas time is a time we spend, putting up a Christmas trees with some decorations and lights, maybe some neighbours have done an interesting display outside, with a great light show to add to it, but never have I seen a light show for Christmas, like I saw in Colombia.
No sooner has Halloween passed than the Colombians are preparing their Christmas tree and other decorations. It’s the early preparations that amazed me, usually starting from 1st November, but as time went on I noticed the light shows that were put on not only in public places, but private homes all around the country.
Every town and city will put on a great display of outdoor lighting, but ask any Colombian and they say that their city started it off, and they have the best show. But to keep them all quiet, and just for argument’s sake I will say that Boyaca has the best show.
First stop to get your home decorated in Bogota for example, you just take a stroll down Calle 53 between Carrera 30 and Carrera 7, and the whole street is lined with Christmas decorations shops. As you enter you get greeted with the standard “A la orden- at your order” and then you pick the decorations you want.
Typical decorations you will see in front of houses are elaborate Nativity scenes, and the standard reindeer and Santa Claus.
The light show will undoubtedly blow your mind away. For example in Bogota you can do a tour at night to see the various light shows that are put on in different districts of the city. Some of the well-known city districts that you can see the light shows are: Usaquen, Parque 92, la Zona Rosa, Plaza Bolivar, Montserrate, and Parque Nacional to name a few, but can also be seen in many other public park spaces.
On the night called “Noche de las Velitas”, Bogota combines the idea of the night-time cycleway (Ciclovia Nocturna) ( close off some city streets to allow for cycling traffic only), with the Night of Candles so that people can walk along Carrera 7 from Usaquen to Plaza Simon Bolivar to congregate together and view the various areas with high concentrations of public areas lit up for the Christmas Period.
While you’re walking around the city every, night before Christmas you will notice real trees wrapped in lights, and up the branches so that you can distinguish the exact shape of the now lit up tree. There are artificial trees lit up all over the city. Lights strewn around the borders of a building’s architecture so that you can see its exact shape, or what looks like cascades of lights, like that in the Zona Rosa, with lights draped above the street, running from side to side, and separated 10cms apart all the way down the street. I loved visiting any street that was adorned in that way, and just thinking how nice it would be to have the same light display at home.
For Colombians Christmas traditions are still kept today, and very important for the people of the country. But now they have added some modern touches to their traditions, which will certainly dazzle the eyes of an outsider who is not used to such beautiful light shows.