Traveling during a holiday that’s shared in your home country is a great way to fast-track to the heart of a foreign culture as you compare local traditions with your own. That was certainly true for us as we traveled from our base in Sogamosa to small towns in the Andes of Colombia as they geared up for Christmas with their own unique takes on crèche Nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and light shows. Here’s what Christmas looks like in the Andes of Colombia.

Recycled-water-bottle-christmas-tree-Barichara-Colombia

Christmas trees made from plastic bottles are popular. This one was in the main plaza in Barichara,  Colombia.

Corrales: Big lights, small city

The town of Corrales is a tiny, sleepy place for most of the year but it puts on a big holiday light show for Christmas drawing gawkers from around the country who come for the festive display of lights which are placed on anything that doesn’t move. Don’t miss the town’s famous golf-ball-sized Genova chorizos while you’re there.

Christmas lights plaza Corrales Colombia

The big Christmas light show in tiny Corrales, Colombia.

Mejor luces de Navidad, Corrales Colombia

The big Christmas light show in tiny Corrales, Colombia.

Corrales Colombia Christmas snowman

The big Christmas light show in tiny Corrales, Colombia.

Corrales Sogamoso Colombia Christmas lights

The big Christmas light show in tiny Corrales, Colombia.

Corrales Colombia Christmas lights

The big Christmas light show in tiny Corrales, Colombia.

The Christmas light show in Corrales, Colombia included one display that did more than just twinkle and flicker. Check it out in our video, below.

Salt Cathedral: world’s deepest nativity scene?

Hundreds of feet underground lies a Nativity scene that is on display year round. It’s part of the Salt Cathedral in the town of Zipaquirá and every figure is carved from salt.

Nativity Pesebre Salt Cathedral Colombia

This nativity scene is hundreds of feet underground in the Salt Cathedral.

Boyacá: battle of the nativity scenes

As we traveled through the department of Boyacá we noticed that every town’s nativity scene had a poster next to it announcing its participation in a department-wide contest to find the very best interpretation of this Christmas classic which is called a pesebre (crib) in Spanish. Here are our favorites.

Nativity Pesebre Aquitania Lake Tola Colombia

We were amazed by the craftsmanship of the figurines in this nativity scene in the town of Aquitania, Colombia on the shores of Lake Tota.

Nativity Pesebre Puntalarga Colombia

The main drag through the town of Punta Larga was lined with life-size depictions of the story of Jesus’ birth.

Nativity Pesebre coal Topaga Colombia

Topaga is a town in the heart of Colombian coal country and their nativity scene was carved entirely from coal.

Nativity Pesebre Mongui Colombia

The town of Mongui, Colombia uses its bucolic river-side setting to good use by building its nativity scene on the banks of the water as it flows through town.

Nativity coalNativity Pesebre Cuitiva Colombia Cuitiva Colombia

Yes, those are eggs for heads in the nativity scene we found in Cuitiva, Colombia.

Nativity Pesebre Tibasosa Colombia

The wise men arrive in the nativity scene in Tibasosa, Colombia.

Nativity Pesebre Iza Colombia

We love that the town of Iza, Colombia blanketed their huge and detailed Christmas display in fake snow.

Check out our video post to see the Christmas traditions in the Colombian town of Villa de Leyva which are dominated by three nights of fireworks. And don’t miss our photo essay about the amazing Ruta de Navidad Christmas light displays in Bogota.

Fireworks Villa de Leyva Festival de Luces

Christmas fireworks over the main plaza of Villa de Leyva, Colombia.

 Here’s more about travel in Colombia