Candle lighting day (Spanish:Día de las Velitas) is one of the most observed traditional holidays of Colombia. It is celebrated on December 7th, on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, which is a public holiday in Colombia. This day is the unofficial start of the Christmas season in the country.
On this day, people place candles and paper lanterns on their windows, balconies, porches, sidewalks, streets, parks and squares, in short, everywhere they can be seen, in honor of the Virgin Mary and her immaculate conception.
El Día de las Velitas is celebrated throughout Colombia, but traditions vary in each region and city.
In the municipality of Quimbaya, in the Department of Quindío the most important cultural event is the Candles and Lanterns Festival (full name in Spanish: Fiesta Nacional del Concurso de Alumbrados con Velas y Faroles), which began in 1982 and is held each year on the 7th and 8 December. Each of the neighborhoods in the township competes to produce the most spectacular lighting arrangements, and many visitors come from throughout Colombia to admire the displays.
In Bogotá, the Christmas decorations reach their peak on this day; the city, fully decorated, plans late activities for the whole family since most Colombians would be out and about admiring the shows, many streets close to traffic and allow pedestrians to walk freely and stop to admire the light arrangements. Malls, museums, stores, and other public places have extended hours of operation. There are many shows that take place on this night, live nativity scenes, caroling events, among others.