Bogotá takes the December holiday season very seriously. Synonymous with merriment, the whole month is packed with Christmas festivities and traditions.
From concerts and fireworks to nocturnal bike rides and candle lighting, visitors to the capital city will have plenty of options to join in on the celebrations. Here’s a list of the best things to do in Bogotá in December.
Get into the holiday spirit with a classical music concert
Christmas kicks off in Bogotá with a classical music concert – the Great Davivienda Christmas Concert – performed by national and international musicians and singers who will take center stage to interpret classic Christmas carols. While traditional symphonic music fills the air, state-of-the-art visual techniques will decorate Bogotá’s recently inaugurated concert stage, Movistar Arena. Renowned German director Christoph Wohlleben will conduct 200 voices from the Misi Choir and 100 musicians from the Colombian Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Other guests include Colombian opera singer Valeriano Lanchas and conductors Larry Hochmann and Bruce Coughlin of Broadway.
When: December 4, 8 pm
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Where: Movistar Arena. Tickets from COP$50,000
Enjoy Afro-Colombian music in the Bronx
African vibes and classical music unite in the Bronx Creative District in downtown Bogotá at a free concert hosted by the Mayor’s Office. Hailing from the Pacific Coast, Herencia de Timbiquí fuses soulful Afro-Colombian lyrics with rhythms of the marimba and traditional instruments such as the bombo and cununos (both traditional drums) and the guasá (a small percussion instrument made of bamboo with seeds inside). Their melodies are enriched with elements of Latin music, such as salsa and son, as well as reggae, jazz, rock and funk. The 11-piece ensemble will perform alongside 40 talented young musicians from the Colombian Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.
When: December 7
Where: Bronx Creative District (Carrera 15A bis No.9-72)
Light a candle on Día de las Velitas
Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles) celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and throughout the country families gather to light candles and paper lanterns and place them along streets, on windowsills and in front yards. In true Colombian style, the tradition gives way to parties that carry on into the early hours of the morning. Head to Parque Simón Bolívar where you can enjoy fireworks and sing along to Christmas carols alongside thousands of others carrying lit candles.
When: December 7
Where: Parque Simón Bolívar
Discover nighttime Bogotá on two wheels
Peddling your way through Bogotá is a great way to explore the streets and discover the local urban culture, art, restaurants, neighborhoods and monuments. Riding at night is even better, especially at Christmastime – take in the city’s striking light displays strung up in parks, malls and apartment windows all over the city. Every December, one evening between 6pm-12am, over 100 km of roads are closed off to cars, buses and motorbikes for the Ciclovía de nocturna. So grab a bike (you can rent from Bogotá Bike Tours) and join thousands of bogotanosas they enjoy the cold night’s air on traffic-free streets. Make a couple of pit stops to munch on typical Christmas foods such as natilla, a thick, custard-like dessert made from corn flour or buñuelos, fried doughy cheese balls. The famous two-centuries-old cafe La Puerta Falsa is a good option.
When: December 13
Where: All over the city
Get your gifts at the Christmas market
The pretty Parque 93 in the north of the city will host the second version of Bogotá’s traditional Christmas “Santa Market.” Inspired by typical European holiday markets, visitors can peruse over 160 stalls selling Christmas decorations, boutique clothing, leather goods, handmade jewelry, toys and much more. The market also includes a gastronomy zone, real snow, children’s activities and musical performances.
When: December 1-9 & 13-23
Where: Parque 93 (Cl. 93a No.13-25)
Get “closer to the stars” at Plaza Bolívar
Every night in the week leading up to Christmas, Plaza Bolívar will host a spectacular show called “Más cerca de las estrellas.” Organized by the Italian company Studio Festi, the extravaganza will include theater, dance and circus acts and a fireworks display that is sure to dazzle.
In addition to the lavish event, visitors can enjoy the striking light displays in parks throughout the city. Get even closer to the heavens and take the cable car up to Monserrate to enjoy the colorful lights installed on the city’s famous mountain top.