Christmas is definitely a special time in Bogotá and its surroundings. There’s nothing better than immersing yourself in winter wonderlands and fairytale lands of beautiful decorations and lights. If this idea entices you, then you need to take a night excursion to some towns in Boyacá and have a wonderful experience!
Spending Christmas in Bogotá is a great idea, not only because there are millions of things to see and do (read our article Novena: the best way to eat, pray, love (and sing) in Christmas), but also, due its central location, it’s quite easy to go on little excursions for a day or two nearby. Out of all the possibilities, Boyacá is definitely one of my top choices. One of the thirty-two departments in Colombia, Boyacá is known for its beautiful landscapes, amazing food, and the best Christmas lights and decorations during festivities. Enjoying the Christmas lights is a huge part of our culture and traditions during this time of the year, so you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to go, here is why!
1. It’s beautiful and worth seeing
It’s simple: rent a car, drive for two or three hours north, and suddenly you are in beautiful Boyacá. Surprise! There are lots to see during the journey: this department is particularly beautiful and it will leave you amazed, trust me!
Christmas is the perfect excuse to embark on a journey to Boyacá, not only because of its magical lands, but also because of the amazing decorations that illuminate the landscape and the streets. Locals in Boyacá put a lot of effort and passion into their festivities, so it’s definitely worth it!
2. It’s close to Bogotá
There’s no denying this is a major plus. Taking a trip can be quite tricky because of the logistics, but going to Boyacá is quite easy if you are in Bogotá. I must warn you though, usually loads of people during the holidays (whether they are locals or tourists) like to go to Boyacá to see the lights, so depending on the day and the time, you’ll probably get caught in a little bit of traffic (hopefully nothing too bad). Besides taking your own car, you can also go by bus from Terminal de Buses del Norte (North Bus Main Station) (http://www.terminaldetransporte.gov.co/terminales/terminal-norte/).
3. Lights and decorations tell stories and are part of our traditions
Colombians do take festive lights seriously, there’s no Christmas without it, but it’s not only for the sake of decorating and displaying stuff, but it’s also because they have been part of our traditions for decades, and they do convey messages and tell stories. In Boyacá, decorations and lights reflect Catholic beliefs, our culture and history, and the agricultural importance of the region. The displaying of lights will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale!
4. You can visit numerous little towns to have a local experience
Whether Bogotá is amazing, it’s also big and sprawling, not like Boyacá, which is smaller and more local. Well, by small I mean the little towns (or municipalities) within the department because Boyacá as a whole is pretty big too. Nonetheless, the magic of this land at Christmas lie in the fact you can visit numerous little towns like Villa de Leya, Chiquinquirá, Paipa, Duitama, Nobsa, or even the department’s capital, Tunja. On the following map, you can see the locations of these towns in relation to Bogotá.
So if you want to have the ultimate local experience and feel like a true Colombian enjoying the festivities and sharing quality time with strangers, family, and friends, going to Boyacá will give you a remarkable en-”light”-ending experience!
5. There are plenty of different ways of experiencing lights and decorations
That’s right, you can find numerous ways (events, shows, tours, etc.) to enjoy the lights in Boyacá. Here are my top three:
Villa de Leyva Festival de Luces (Lights Festival in Villa de Leyva):
For three days at the beginning of December, this little colonial town transforms itself into an explosion of lights, electricity and impressive fireworks.
Travesía de Los Alumbrados Navideños (Christmas’ Lighting Route):
For adventurers, bike for a night around little towns (or municipalities) in search of the best Christmas lights.
El Puente de Boyacá (Boyacá’s Bridge):
Now this can be a stop in the journey or the destination itself (located between Bogotá and Tunja). The historic bridge is located in a larger park that’s considered to be where Colombia officially won its independence in 1819. And during Christmas, its landscape is converted into this impressive magical land of lights and decorations.
A few last recommendations
- Boyacá’s weather varies a lot (between 8ºC-18ºC). At Christmas, however, it can get pretty cold, so I recommend wearing an outfit that will keep you warm ( jacket, comfortable shoes, and even a pair of gloves or a beanie if you wish)
- Try the many typical dishes, snacks, or drinks! Boyacá is full of good food and everything is delicious! Try Canelazo (a hot drink made with cinnamon and aguardiente, which is Colombia’s most famous alcoholic drink), or arepa boyacense (take a look at my article Traditional Colombian food: the world of Arepas to know more).
- There’s nothing wrong with embarking on a little trip to Boyacá by yourself, but it’s ten times more fun to go with your family or friends. Gather some people, rent a car or ride a bus (as I explained above), and have the time of your life!
Now that I’ve told you why it’s worth it to go to Boyacá and see the lights and decorations, it’s also important to keep in mind that December is the best and the busiest month to go, although, at the end of November, the festivity is already in full swing, as well as into the first days of January. And remember, it’s not only a matter of lighting up festive spectacles or illuminating the streets with dazzling displays, but also a way of spreading joy (read my other articles Christmas and New Years’ Traditions in Bogotá: Aguinaldos and Christmas and New Years’ Traditions in Bogotá: Agüeros regarding this topic) to everyone during the holidays. After all, that’s what Christmas is all about!
Was this article useful? Do you know other cool stuff about Christmas traditions in Bogotá? Or maybe an experience you would like to share? Please share and/or comment on this article, and visit our homepage Colture to take a look at my articles and many others to find more essential information about Bogotá before or during your trip.