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Colombia’s Holiday Spirit Invites you to Celebrate the Season

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Christmas Lighting in Medellin (Los Alumbrados)
Medellin’s Christmas spirit is bright in lights as the Colombian city dresses its parks and houses in colorful lights radiating the joy of the season. Los Alumbrados, as the glowing of the city is known, is a tradition of Medellin – a charm no one can resist.

This year’s theme features the most representative element of every region in Colombia – the river. Medellin and its locals will be celebrating throughout the month of December with parties starting the 3rd until the first week of January.

This is a great time to enjoy the season’s greetings with the traditional festivities.
For more information, visit

Villa de Leyva – Lights Festival

This is one of the festivals a foreign visitor cannot miss; Villa de Leyva is a tourist attraction throughout the year with great gastronomic offer, horseback riding, caves, fun events like the Kite Festival in August, and attractions such as the Fossil Museum, Archaeological Park of Moniquira or the “Yacimiento Rupestre of Sachica” (cave painting of Pre-Columbian origin), the Blue Wells or the Gondava Thematic Park, which are the most outstanding places to visit in the town.

On December 7th, visitors gather in Villa de Leyva’s Central Square to witness the majestic fireworks. Villa de Leyva transforms into the ideal setting to officially welcome the Christmas season with lit streets, balconies, and colonial houses.

The festival also offers different activities such as the Lantern Contest. The streetlights are then exhibited in the middle of the religious procession of the Immaculate Conception, public presentations of Christmas Choirs and Musical Groups are featured in the main square.

The Cali Fair

From December 25th of each year, Cali residents welcome tourists from different cities of Colombia and countries of the entire world, in a week in which the city transforms into one huge dance festival.
For 6 days, the visitors will be able to enjoy the famous cabalgatas (horse riding parades), the bullfighting season, and the best Salsa music orchestras of the whole continent, multiple concerts, dancing, and the best gastronomy of the region.

The beginning of this fair is marked by the horse ridden parades where the best Paso Fino horses of the country walk through the streets. The celebrations are then complemented with different popular parties around the towns of the city.

The rest of the week is acclimated by the parties and concerts that are organized in diverse zones of the city. In addition to the exhibition of the best bullfighters of South America and Spain that performed in the Cañaveralejo Bullring.

Each year, thousands of citizens let the liveliness of the fair lead the way of happiness surrounded by music, party, and all the uniqueness of the Cali flare.

The Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry reported the arrival of 113,146 travelers in 2010, which shows an increase of 15.4% compared to 2009 where 98,060 visitors were reported. Cali represents the 7.7% of the total tourists that arrive in the entire country.

Other activities available in Cali include:

  • Visit to the Buga Cathedral
  • Meet the Marimba Music and Traditional Songs of the Pacific, recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Bird watching and Ecotourism
  • Visit Paradise Farm
  • Learn how to Dance (Visit Juanchito or the Salsa Cabaret)
  • Visit Buenaventura, Sancipriano, and Golden Beach in the Pacific for the Humpback Whale watching
  • Follow the Sugar Cane Path: visit to the sugar refineries

Click here for more information on the Cali Fair

The Manizales Fair

As soon as the year begins, the streets of Manizales are full with visitants from all the country and the world, the fair was born in the middle of the 20th century as emulation of the Valencia’s Fair in Spain, as the years pass the roots of the Hispanic Mediterranean combined with the best Colombian tradition.

This fair takes place from January 4th to January 11th with activities that goes from bullfight; art crafts expositions, street shows, parades, concerts and fireworks.

The tourists will be able to enjoy the entire offer that the city and the surroundings provide, such as the National Snow Peak Parks, Andes Central Mountain Range Birth sight and Ecotourism by the coffee farms that are located in the entire region.

Other activities available in Manizales include:

Cartagena International Music Festival 2012

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The colonial charm of Cartagena will be hosting the International Music Festival 2012 with world-renowned musicians and orchestras from January 5th – 14th, 2012.

The Adolfo Mejía Theatre, Plaza San Pedro Claver, and Plaza de la Trinidad are just some of the concert venues where international musicians and orchestras will be performing their finest pieces.

The 10-day program features the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra as the guest orchestra, and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Livia Sohn, Le Vent du Nord ensemble and soprano Jessica Rivera among many others.

Organized by the Victor Salvi Foundation, since its beginnings in 2007, the Festival continues to grow each year. Over 20,000 people come to this event from all parts of Colombia, Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world. During the Cartagena International Music Festival more than 400 young artists have the opportunity to interact with their role models and take music lessons. The education project seeks to bring the genre of the greatest musicians in history to a large and diverse crowd.

For the complete program of the event, visit

The Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the United States also benefits Tourism

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Panoramic BogotaThe tourism industry will be the first beneficiary of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Approved by the US Congress on October 12th, the agreement began its implementation phase as it awaits the arrival of a significant flow of visitors from the US, which will increase with the force of the FTA. This increase in U.S. travelers is the result of a new phase of the relationship bringing an increase number of entrepreneurs and investors who come in search of businesses that will promote the FTA, said Vice Minister of Tourism Oscar Rueda García, saying that growth will be sustained and consolidated hereinafter the force of the Treaty

In his view, the opportunities offered by the Colombia agreement will help to keep building a world-class destination. According to the official, in recent years, the arrival of travelers from the United States has been rising. While 2009 saw 19% growth in the arrival of travelers from the US (314,860), the end of 2010 the increase was 11% for a total of 349,116 travelers.

"Colombia has been preparing for the opportunities now open by the FTA," said Rueda García, stipulating that, for example, only in recent years in Bogota, 2300 rooms have been opened and this year there will be 1,770 more. Nationwide, the number of new rooms, until this year is 15,500. At the end of 2014, we will have 19,000 new rooms.

To this is added the El Dorado Airport will be ready when the FTA takes effect, which is expected to occur late next year. "This will allow us, undoubtedly, to increase operational capacity and convenience for travelers," he said.

In the preparatory phase, prior to approval of the treaty, the most important thing was to have changed the aviation agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, which now only allows to receive up to 91 weekly flights from the United States. With the signing of the "Open Skies," which took place in May, starting January 2013, there will be no limit on the number of flights, airline, or cities.

This greater choice of airlines and hotel rooms will have favorable impact on prices, which encourage a greater number of visitors to Colombia, Oscar Rueda affirms.

Source: (October 18th, 2011)

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