By Leo Cutting, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It is December, the days are getting longer, the weather is getting hotter and, however counter intuitively for readers from the Northern Hemisphere, this can only mean one thing, Christmas is coming. One place where Christmas is already in full swing is Gramado, located in Rio Grande do Sul, this small city has been the self proclaimed capital of Christmas in Brazil for more than twenty years.
The festival of Natal Luz de Gramado (Gramado’s Christmas of Light) was originally born out of a single candlelit concert held 27 years ago in the city. So positive was the response from the public to this one performance that Gramado’s town hall added more and more events in subsequent years.
When many of these new events took on a Christmas theme, Natal Luz de Gramado was born and has now grown to become one of the world’s most extravagant Christmas celebrations.
“The festival began in early November and will continue right through December before coming to an end on the 13th of January. During this period more than 500 festive events and presentations will be held,” explains a Gramado town hall spokesperson.
One of the festival’s main events is the Nativitaten, a spectacular floating show held in the center of the Joaquina Rita Bier Lake. This performance combines opera, circus acts and fireworks (which reflect magnificently on the surface of the lake) to wow the crowds.
The Nativitaten will be held a remarkable 21 times during this year’s Natal Luz de Gramado which means that anyone visiting is likely to have a chance of seeing it. While it is possible for members of the public to watch this event free of charge, the best seats are reserved for ticket holders.
Another popular event during Natal Luz de Gramado is the Tannenbaumfest. This fun competition sees Gramado’s local businesses lavishly decorate Christmas trees which line the city’s Avenida Borges de Medeiros.
Competitors employ a wide variety of Christmas themes in an attempt to impress the judges of the competition and, while the judging has already taken place, the trees will remain on public display until the end of the festival.
Other events which take place during the festival include various Christmas parades, classical and rock music concerts, a reindeer painting contest as well as Christmas themed dramatic performances.
Natal Luz de Gramado’s busy schedule and repeating events make it easy to catch the best of the action during the holiday season. The city’s extravagant decorations provide a magical atmosphere which is sure to fill visitors with Christmas cheer.
The easiest way to travel to Gramado from Rio de Janeiro is to fly to Porto Alegre and, from there, take a two hour bus ride through Rio Grande do Sul’s mountains to Gramado. For anyone in Brazil looking to really get into the Christmas spirit this year, Natal Luz de Gramado may be just what Santa ordered, find out more at their web site.