Villa de Leyva: The Festival Of Lights

The 7th of December is a highly anticipated Catholic holiday in Colombia, known as the Noche de las Velitas (Night of the Little Candles). One of the biggest celebrations of this holiday occurs in the colonial town of Villa de Leyva. Every year, thousands swarm from far and wide to set it on fire! Ok, not exactly on fire, but we’re surprised it’s still standing considering the number of children playing with candles.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-002.jpg

Our arrival in VIlla de Leyva coincided with the start of their annual Festival de Luz, a weekend long celebration of music, fireworks and children playing with candles…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-002-2.jpg

… jam-packed streets …

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-012.jpg

Rainbow coloured wax oozing over cobble stones and pillars for three nights running…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-018.jpg

We were keen to checkout the hipsters’ Graffiti de Luz event…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-019.jpg

… unfortunately, it turned out to be a giant etch-sketch open to the public with lots of kids drawing flower pot men. (Lars says: ‘yes, that is an AKAI APC40 in the background’).

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-023.jpg

Villa de Leyva’s cobble stone streets were full of Bogotanos for the weekend.

After The Festival

Tour In Tune-2013-12-08-018.jpg

The streets were super quiet after the crowds dispersed…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-002.jpg

… the same Villa de Levya that was jam packed on the weekend opened up to reveal the largest colonial plaza in all of Colombia!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-08-015.jpg

Wanting to avoid the restaurant prices in Villa de Leyva, we cooked arepas and soup at Hostel Renacer, our camping spot for four days.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-258.jpg

Jenny loves arepas…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-07-260.jpg

… perhaps too much.


In the words of our fellow bicycle tourist Nate, Raquira is a bit like Villa de Leyva’s cute, but tarty little sister. It’s situated only 25 km away away from Villa de Leyva, yet surprisingly overlooked by many travellers. In the Chibcha language, Raquira means “City of Pots”. It certainly lives up to its name!

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-001.jpg

Stretching out before getting back on the bikes on our way to Raquira

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-003.jpg

Aside from pottery, Raquira is known for its quirky murals…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-004.jpg

… sometimes pleasant…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-006.jpg

… sometimes garrish.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-014.jpg

The terracotta statues in the plaza tell the story of Raquira…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-012.jpg

… including El Caballito de Raquira, the ubiquitous pony and inspiration for the song by the same name.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-017.jpg

… a history of potters and their wares.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-11-018.jpg

Tour In Tune-2013-12-12-023.jpg

Raquira’s shops are chock full of beautiful, cheap pottery. Unfortunately for us, not so easy to transport on the bikes…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-12-026.jpg

… floor to ceiling, wall to wall.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-12-033.jpg

The shops in Raquira range from incredible masterful pottery to cute boutique, garrish and obnoxious.


We’d planned to head further south after Raquira, through Lenguazaque towards Zipaquirá. However, Lars was experiencing some stomach problems and was referred to visit the big hospital in Tunja. So, we set off on another backtrack and eastward detour to Tunja.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-14-035.jpg

Passing through Tunja was not particularly interesting, but we were pleased to find decent cycle lanes.

Tour In Tune-2013-12-14-037.jpg

A final resting place for this truck

Tour In Tune-2013-12-14-040.jpg

 The road south from Tunja was unbearable – endless traffic and a tiny shoulder; so we hitched a ride with friendly Paulo in his pickup to Sesquilé…

Tour In Tune-2013-12-14-041.jpg

… and found a quiet camp spot behind a little restaurant just outside Sesquilé.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: