Christmas in Colombia

Christmas in Colombia is magical, full of traditions that include spending lots of time with family and friends, whilst remembering the significance of religion.

Whilst everyone has their unique Christmas and family traditions, the most common traditions celebrated in Colombia revolve around family and religion.

Dia or Noche de las Velitas

The 7th December marks the official start of the Christmas festivities with the Dia/Noche de las Velitas (Day or Night of the Candles). Celebrations start at around 7pm with many families lighting of candles, or setting off lanterns, whilst celebrating the start of the Christmas period with families, friends and neighbourhoods. The religious meaning of this day is that it signifies the arrival of the virgin, the candles are lit to make wishes to the virgin for the upcoming year, and also to give thanks for the blessings during the previous year. The celebrations continue into the 8th of December, with the day being a national holiday and the Feast of Immaculate Conception. Whilst every region in Colombia celebrates these two days slightly differently, some regions lighting candles at midnight, some at 7pm other regions light candles in specific places, but every region has the same belief for the day.

Christmas Novena

The first day of the Christmas Novena is December 16th, this is a time of religious devotion with private and public prayers said every night for 9 consecutive days from December 16th to Christmas Eve. During these times friends and families get together to say Novenas, sing carols with instruments, eat traditional Colombian foods, read versus from the bible and celebrate the arrival of Christmas. The evenings are usually hosted by different family member or friend each night, taking it in turns to host the event at their house.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the most important day in the Colombian Christmas calendar. Christmas Eve is the day in which family and friends gathering together to exchange presents, have a Christmas meal and celebrate the last Novena. In Colombia children receive presents from el niño Dios (baby Jesus) and open them at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day in Colombia is a relatively quiet day and a day to relax after Christmas Eve’s festivities; some families may attend a Christmas Day mass or gather together to have brunch or lunch. Many families leave the big cities on Christmas Day to travel to other parts of Colombia or around the world to have a holiday or meet up with other family members around the world or country.

Día de los Reyes Magos

Colombian Christmas tradition celebrates the Día de los Reyes Magos or The Day of the Three Kings on January 6th: this day is said to be the day the Three Kings visited baby Jesus and presented him with their gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. January 6th (or some years the closest Monday) is still considered a National Holiday in Colombia.

Christmas Traditions

Every country has their Christmas traditions, every family also has their specific traditions and everyone celebrates Christmas slightly differently. Christmas still has the same meaning and purpose for most people: to celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends from near and far, to give thanks and share aspirations for the upcoming year.

 

Visiting a Snow Ski Resort on a Budget

The time of year is coming when the winter is nearly upon us and everyone is thinking about Christmas and snow skiing.

Once an elitist sport snow skiing has now taken the world by storm, with more an more facilities opening around the world, such as indoor snow domes and dry ski slopes. Snow skiing and snowboarding has now become more accessible for everyone, meaning demand for snow sports holidays has skyrocketed.

Whilst snowboarding and skiing holidays can still be expensive they can also be cheap as well, in this guide I aim to show you how winter sports holidays don’t have to break the bank, by following these tips and travel hacks you can save money on your winter sports holiday this year.

Avoid Schools Holidays 

One tip to saving money on your snow ski holiday is to book your holiday outside of school holidays, (Christmas school holidays and especially February half term holidays). School holidays can be very busy times for snow ski resorts, with school groups and families with children visiting the slopes. The cost of snow ski holidays can double over the school holidays and resorts themselves can become crowded, with high numbers of people using the slopes and restaurants.

The best time to take your skiing holiday to take advantage of the lower prices is January, late February or early March, you will also get the added benefit of avoiding the crowds.

Lift Passes

Lift passes can be expensive, resorts charge high prices because lift passes are necessary for people to go up the mountain. Take advantage of deals; some resorts have early or late season deals if you don’t have any time restraints. Another way to cut the costs of lift passes is to plan your week carefully, maybe take one mid week half day or day off skiing to explore the local town or try another activity. This won’t only save you money but it will force you to make the most out of the days you spend skiing, get the lifts early in the morning and stay until they close. Some resorts offer access to more than one mountain range, to cut costs only buy lift passes to mountains or runs you will actually go to.

Find Locals Restaurants or Bars 

If you want to have a meal out, spend a night parting or check out the après, take some time to research the seasonnaire or locals bars and restaurants, they often offer cheaper prices or deals and you can get to know local people whilst saving some money.

Avoid Eating at Restaurants on the Mountain

Everyone does it, your skiing at the top of a mountain, decide to stop and have lunch at a restaurant. These restaurants can be double or triple the price of the restaurants at the bottom of the mountain, they charge a premium for being situated up the mountain, so instead of spending a large chunk of your budget on food, here is my advice – before you go skiing, visit a local supermarket, buy some items for lunch and take a packed lunch in your backpack. Many ski resorts offer picnic areas at the top of the mountains where you can take a break and eat your cheap lunch.

Accommodation

The most common type of accommodation in snow ski resorts is chalets, many companies offer chalets with all meals included, bars and housekeepers. Whist this is living in luxury for a week it can become expensive very easily, for budget savers I suggest you look for Airbnb apartments, self catering apartments or hostels. This way you can cut the expensive costs of staff at chalets, you can cook food instead of eating out every night and buy drinks from a local supermarket to drink before a night out.

Look Out for Deals 

Sometimes you can get a great deal on package holidays, with free lift passes, food or equipment. If you aren’t time constricted you can also get some great last minute deals, some websites to keep an eye on are Neilson HolidaysSki WorldCrystal Ski or Snow Trex. You can always also just book everything individually – Easy Jet have some cheap flights to Geneva, Innsbruck, Grenoble, Turin from England and then you can find accommodation. Or further afield you can get some great flight deals to Boston, Salt Lake City, Denver or Vancouver, if you do some searching, check out my Guide to Booking Cheap Flights. There are some great accommodation deals for apartments with a quick google search.

As you can see you can make your next snow skiing or snowboarding trip as expensive or cheap as you wish, winter sports holidays don’t have to break the bank.

Top 40 things to do in Norfolk, England

London and England are very popular tourist destinations, but very few people who visit London leave to explore the rest of the UK. Around three hours from London is a beautiful county called Norfolk. Norfolk is predominantly surrounded by coastline and agricultural land, providing the perfect location for a number of water based activities as well as countryside scenery.

  • Spend the day at Blakeney Point, taking a boat trip to see the famous seals or walk along the marshes
  • Eat fish and chips whilst walking through the beautiful town of Sheringham
  • Catch a crab off Cromer Pier
  • Experience the Cromer Carnival festivities, the UK’s biggest carnival after Nottingham – Parades, activities and parties (August every year)
  • Spend the day at Sea Palling beach
  • Have lunch at a restaurant on the Norfolk Broads
  • Spend a day hiring a boat a drive around the incredible Norfolk Broads
  • Go sailing on Whitlingham Broads Education Centre
  • Visit the Queen’s Norfolk residence at Sandringham
  • Walk around the varsity gardens and lake at Blickling hall
  • Step back in time and discover Felbrigg Hall
  • Spend the day in Norfolk’s biggest city, Norwich
  • Visit the castle on the hill in Norwich
  • Watch a football match at Carrow Road, Norwich
  • Have afternoon tea at Biddy’s Tea Room’s in Aylsham
  • Take a walk around Holt
  • Have dinner at Zaks American Dinner
  • Enjoy the ride at Great Yarmouth pleasure beach
  • Discover the sea creatures at Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre
  • Take in the stunning views of Norwich Cathedral
  • Take a walk around the historic seaside town of Wells Next The Sea
  • Spend an evening watching the Thursford Christmas Show (Nov – Dec)
  • See the amazing animals at Banham Zoo
  • Take a step back in time walking around Elm Hill in Norwich
  • Have dinner by the river in Norwich’s Riverside
  • Spend a night partying in Norwich’s Prince of Wales Road, home to a number of bars and restaurants
  • Visit Norfolk’s town on the Broads in Wroxham
  • Experience the magic of Happisburgh Lighthouse
  • Watch the Cromer Pier Seaside Special ( Jun to Sept)
  • Watch Norwich’s famous Pantomime at the Theatre Royal Norwich (Dec – Jan)
  • Spend the afternoon shopping in one of Norwich’s two malls connected by a number of other stores.
  • Have a few drinks at the Gunton Arms a pub in the countryside
  • Visit the Muckleborough Military Collection 
  • Take a ride on one of Norfolk’s still functioning steam trains
  • Go Snow Skiing at Norwich’s Snow Sports Club 
  • Take a walk around the grounds of Wolterton Hall
  • Watch the fishermen launch their boats in Sheringham
  • Go water skiing at Bluebird Deaf Water Ski Club in Costessey
  • Buy a desert from Byfords cafe in Holt
  • Take a bike ride through the Norfolk countryside