Each December, Colombia’s second-largest city heralds the holidays with a month-long festival of Christmas lights, Los Alumbrados. It’s as though this once-violent city emerged from the dark cloud of drug violence that held it captive until three decades ago and celebrates its freedom anew each year with a great burst of light.
More than 30 million LED bulbs turn parks, gardens, streets, plazas and the Medellín River into a holiday fairyland that springs to life as darkness falls each evening. Christmas ornaments shaped from tiny lights hang from trees arching above streets, twinkling angels fly overhead, and scattered stars dangle in the air.
Parks become magic forests of sparkling trees, clouds of light float overhead, colored beams play across the hillsides surrounding the city, and arches of lights crown promenades and streets. In the Botanical Garden, walkways are lined with borders of fanciful electric flowers blooming in rainbow colors, their glow illuminating the tropical foliage overhead.
The mile-long stretch of the Medellín River between the Guayaquil and San Juan bridges gushes with illuminated water spouts, fountains bathed in lights that change color in time with music. Lights seem to float and spring to life as projections dance in the plumes of water. The reaction of wide-eyed children to this magical scene provides half the fun.
After wandering through the park alongside the river to see the dozens of giant illuminated Christmas scenes — some as tall as 75 feet — and other holiday-themed displays, board a chiva with fellow revelers to tour the city’s other lighted venues. These open-air buses are moving parties filled with strangers singing together and vendors clinging precariously to the outside as they sell cold drinks through the open windows.
Each park and square where the chiva stops hosts more vendors grilling savory sausages and selling fresh-cooked buñuelos (fried dough), roasted ears of corn and skewers of chicken or beef. All of Medellín becomes a citywide block party.
Everyone seems to get into the act. Lights decorate homes in residential neighborhoods while department stores and shopping centers throughout Medellín add their own elaborate indoor and outdoor displays. Office buildings in the city center and on the mountainsides above are bathed throughout the night in moving patterns of colored light.
Throughout the festival, which begins Dec. 1 and continues into mid-January, there are more than 500 different activities in various parts of the city and 80 special events that include concerts by the Medellín Philharmonic Orchestra, the Youth Orchestra of Medellín, choruses and other musical groups. These often take place in open-air venues, with both ticketed seating and free public areas. Lavish fireworks displays kick off the lighting and continue throughout December.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.
The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.
Cathay Pacific reaffirms its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with a pledge to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel for 10 percent of its total fuel consumption by 2030. The airline has made pioneering efforts in supporting SAF development for more than 10 years.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha. As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.