You’ve seen the light through the trees. Those many plastic Christmas trees; especially after the city launched at the end of last month the official holiday season with a light up in Bogotá’s emblematic Plaza de Bolívar. If you couldn’t make it downtown to enjoy the free outdoor concert by the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra (OFB), there are still four weeks ahead to enjoy a full agenda of End-of-Year and New Year activities and celebrations. And best of all: city-sponsored events this holiday season are free!

Noche de Velitas

We begin on December 7th with the Noche de Velitas (Night of Candles) and a tradition held in many Andean nations. To join in the Advent celebration, one must create a line of candles and make a wish with each candle lit. Candle sales across Colombia skyrocket on this special eve and if the winter storms move elsewhere, The City Paper recommends heading over to the Simon Bolívar Park where you will be accompanied by the angelic voices of a children’s choir, and a large candle-lighting ceremony followed by a fireworks display starting 6:00 pm.

Cícloruta Nocturna

On Thursday December 11 brace yourself for the annual Cícloruta Nocturna (Night Bike Route), which covers the same Sunday Cícloruta route of 85 kms of all bicycle paths, as well as regular tents along the way to hydrate and take in the lights. The Cicloruta begins at 6 pm and runs until midnight. On the Sunday after the Cícloruta Nocturna, there are more bikes and plenty of birthday cake as the Cícloruta turns 40. To celebrate this urban achievement, the mayoralty will host local bands along the Carrera Séptima and reenact the first ride which took place from the Parque Nacional to the Parque El Virrey on the Cra 15 with Calle 87. Those who join in the peddle-off, with be rewarded with a slice of Bogotá-baked Birthday cake.

A word to the wise before the arrival of the Three Wise Kings. If you happen to be departing this metropolis on the night of the Night Bike Route to the airport, give yourself plenty of time! Road closures are part and parcel of the event and bikes have priority over your taxi.

Novenas

Until Christmas Eve there are nightly Novena readings in parks across the city, and shopping malls will stay open late as part of the “Bogota Despierta” (Bogotá Awake) initiative, which helps boost local commerce during a spirited month and when many decide to do Christmas shopping at night. After Boxing Day, many Bogotanos leave town for the beach. If you do find yourself in the city, while others are lounging around a pool, enjoy many of the concerts and art exhibitions in the city’s main cultural venues, such as the Gold Museum, the National Museum, and the Luis Angel Arango Library.