If you’re in the City of Eternal Spring over the holidays and want to plan a calendar of exciting activities, cultural events, and delicious food, you’re in luck. December in Medellín is one of the best times of year to feel festive in a new home-away-from-home. While for many extranjeros Christmas falls on December 25th, in Colombia, midnight on December 24th (Nochebuena) is the main occasion. Although most Colombians spend the evening at home with their families, there are also a number of restaurants open and things to do for people who are visiting or don’t fancy cooking. Here’s how to celebrate Christmas Eve in Medellín:
Where to eat
Note: many of these restaurants are in hotels, as most Colombian restaurants close over the holidays. Nonetheless, the restaurants below have been vetted and come highly recommended.
Calle 9A #37-16
Located in The Charlee – a luxurious hotel in the heart of El Poblado – Lucia is ideal for those who want to splash out and indulge for Christmas. The Italian restaurant serves up Tuscan cuisine, bursting with flavors, textures, and a special European flare. The open-space setting looks out onto Parque Lleras, and is particularly fantastic when the sun sets and the area is illuminated with lights.
After dinner, head up to Envy, the rooftop bar with an aquarium-style pool, live DJs, cocktails, and breath-taking views of the cityscape.
Calle 10A #34-11
Another Poblado favorite, found a little higher up in the hills, Hotel Diez is a trendy building with a contemporary on-site restaurant. On the entrance floor of the hotel, the sleek décor combined with the natural lighting and fantastic service make this an easy pick for Christmas with a group of friends. The menu is a mixture of traditional Colombian dishes or a range of international foods.
Carrera 42 #3 Sur 81
Nestled along the Milla de Oro (the ‘Golden Mile’), La Provincia is an upscale restaurant that has been open for 25 years in Medellín. The family business fuses Mediterranean food with cooking techniques from Asia, experimenting with new sensory experiences all while maintaining an elegant and minimalistic presentation. Some of their best dishes include pork rind with spiced coconut sauce, octopus carpaccio with saffron vinaigrette and passion fruit, and chateaubriand with red wine sauce and exotic mushrooms. La Provincia is definitely on the higher end of prices but the extra cost is well worth such a gastronomic treat at Christmas.
Restaurante The Market
Calle 1A Sur #43A-83
If you’re traveling around Colombia over December and prefer a meal in the company of other extranjeros, The Market is a suave restaurant in Marriott Medellín, boasting foods from around the world made by internationally-acclaimed chefs. In fact, guests at the restaurant can even see their food being prepared at the open chef bar. The service here is known to be exceptionally great, and the food and general ambiance always to a high standard but without being pretentious.
On December 24th, at 7 pm, The Market has a Christmas-themed buffet available, as well as live music performances. Tickets for the buffet cost $95,000 COP for children and $190,000 COP for adults.
What to do
One of the best things to do on Christmas Eve in Medellín is to take advantage of the quiet streets while most people celebrate with their relatives. Medellín’s Christmas lights are world-renowned and normally draw huge crowds. Christmas Eve tends to be less packed, so for an after-dinner activity or just to curb some homesickness, head to Parque Norte or Parques del Río for the main shows. Alternatively, many of the smaller parks like Parque Sabaneta and Parque Bello how their own min-versions.
We recommend going in the evening, buying a hot chocolate to stroll around with and embracing all things Christmasy.
If you’re looking for an authentically Paisa Christmas Eve with a lower budget, simply venture into a residential neighborhood and join the party. Towards the end of the night (after a few drinks) families leave their homes and gather on the streets in their local area to welcome in Christmas in style – meaning sancocho, music, and lots of Aguardiente. Traditional Colombian foods like natilla, buñuelos, and hojuelas are offered out, and some roads are even closed off to cars to allow the parties to happen safely.
These kinds of parties don’t take place as often in Laureles or Poblado, but in Barrios Populares and Envigado they’re more common.
For those who enjoy being active throughout the holidays, why not walk up Cerro Nutibara on Christmas Eve and spend some time in Pueblito Paisa? The replica of a typical colonial town in Antioquia has an especially festive feel to it, complete with lights, food trucks, and a church where masses are held. Weather-permitting, Pueblito Paisa has beautiful views across Medellín and is a romantic spot to watch the sunset and share the arrival of Christmas with your significant other. If you stay for midnight, there may also be Christmas carols and hymns sung as people leave the church.
Christmas can be the most difficult time of year for the most vulnerable people. Medellín has lots of fantastic organizations that bring gifts and happiness to those who need it most in December. Whether planning a visit from Santa for kids in lower-economic neighborhoods, cooking meals for the homeless or teaching English, your help goes a long way to make a positive difference on Christmas Eve. Check out these 6 Christmas Charity Activities in Medellín to get involved with.
From everyone at Medellín Living, we wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year!