Noche de Velitas kicks off capital Christmas in Bogotá

Noche de Velitas 2013 in Bogota by Rosalba Tarazona
Noche de Velitas 2013 in Bogota by Rosalba Tarazona

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]espite fears that an extreme drought would dampen the holiday spirit with electricity rationing, the mayoralty gave the green light for Bogota? to celebrate its traditional Christmas Route, La Ruta de la Navidad.

From the Plaza de Boli?var, with its emblematic Árbol de Navidad, to the Parque Nacional, Zona T and Usaque?n, 40 days of LED-lit extravaganza and end-of-year concerts await.

[infobox title=’What to do’]

  • Dec. 7 — Noche de las Velitas
  • Dec. 10 — Night bike riding
  • Dec. 16-23 — Chinese dance and drum performances
  • Dec. 16 — Urban Circus
  • Dec. 17 — Jorge Celedon


But doing its part to conserve energy during these intense months of El Nin?o, the mayoralty ordered all lights be switched off by 10:30 p.m.

December 7 marks one of the highlights of Christmas in the Andes with the Noche de Velitas (Night of Candles) event. To join in this Advent celebration, create a line of candles on your porch or balcony, making a wish for each candle lit.

There will be public candle-lighting ceremony at Simo?n Boli?var Park, where the choir Canta Bogota? Canta, will sing traditional villancios alongside the Youth Chamber Orchestra of Bogota?.

The large candle lighting will be accompanied by a fireworks display at 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 4:00 p.m.

Thursday December 10 is a chance to flex those weary bones with the annual Cicloruta Nocturna (Night Bike Route), covering the same routes as the Sunday Cicloruta bicycle paths.

Tents will be set up along the way to let cyclists (and many joggers) hydrate between admiring the Christmas lights. The Cicloruta begins at 6 p.m. and runs until midnight.

As warranted, some advice, if heading to the airport during the Cicloruta Nocturna give yourself plenty of time! Road closures are part and parcel of this event, and bikes have priority over your flight.

From novena readings in parks to a nightly percussion show of Chinese drummers in the Plaza de Bolivar (16th to 23rd), Christmas comes to the capital.

Check the official program of the mayoralty for the locations of novena readings and free concerts during the Ruta. Besides the official program, there are concerts and exhibitions in all the city’s main cultural venues, such as the Colo?n Theatre, Gold Museum, National Museum and Luis Angel Arango Library.

Don’t miss out on Urban, the hip-hop, operatic circus that headlines at the Colo?n on the 16th. From Cali comes a unique performance of acrobatic prowess with a strong social message.

The following evening, enjoy a very costen?o Christmas as vallenatero Jorge Celedon takes the stage at the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo.

Celedon’s nimble accordion and interpretation of traditional Christmas songs will surely be one of the highlights of this December’s cultural agenda. And very timely — vallenato was included this month in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Patrimony.


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