The holiday season is one of the best times to visit New Mexico to truly experience the state’s beauty, culture, and traditions. At this time of year, the state’s strong Spanish heritage is most evident as farolitos or luminarias, (lanterns, made of brown paper bags filled with sand and lit with a small candle), glow softly along pathways, adorn porches, and trim the iconic flat rooftops. Residents and tourists brave the cold weather to view and walk among the many light displays and celebrations.
These are some of the most spectacular family-friendly displays, worth a stop if you are in or traveling through Albuquerque or Santa Fe on your way to the ski areas.
In Santa Fe:
Christmas at the Palace
December 11 @ 5:30 – 8:00 pm
This annual event is held at the Palace of the Governors, the oldest government building the country, and is a popular one with locals. Wander through the courtyard lit by strings of holiday lights, farolitos and luminarias.
Christmas in the Plaza
Santa Fe’s historic plaza is aglow in lights and farolitos from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Be sure to stop in Santa Fe on your way up to the ski areas to stroll around the plaza and through the surrounding streets of this historic city.
Christmas Eve Canyon Road Farolito Walk
December 24 @ 5:00-9:00 pm
Join the tens of thousands of people who turn out for this slow promenade in the heart of Santa Fe. Enjoy farolitos and carolers. Many of the galleries and restaurants are open; some serve hot drinks and offer a warm, welcome shelter from the cold.
51st Annual Luminaria Tour
This guided tour takes holiday-light seekers through the Old Town plaza and several surrounding neighborhoods to view the city’s most impressive light and luminaria displays.(You can also stroll through Old Town any night of the month of December to see the picturesque white lights, but without the luminarias.)
River of Lights
Through January 2
ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden hosts New Mexico’s largest walk-through light show featuring millions of twinkling lights.
If you are visiting NM to enjoy skiing or snowboarding for the holidays, there’s plenty of holiday cheer for the whole family at and around the ski areas as well. From Santa to fireworks, there’s something for everyone. Several ski areas host traditional torchlight parades. These breathtaking displays on the slopes of the mountains are celebrations put on by the host ski area and skiing community and are considered a gift to the visitors who attend.
Dummy Gelunde & Torchlight Parade with Fireworks
December 19 @ 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Build your best snow-riding dummy, tie him to a pair of skis or a snowboard and watch him fly down the hill and off our giant ski launch! Then, hang out for our torchlight parade down the Capitan Trail followed by a spectacular fireworks show and more!
Ski and Snowboard with Santa
December 24 @ 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Come ski and snowboard with Santa and Mrs. Claus on the mountain. Don’t forget a camera; this is one photo op you don’t want to miss.
Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks
December 24 @ 6:00-7:00 pm
Bundle up the family and join us at the base of the ski mountain for our annual Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks.
New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks
December 31 @ 6:00-7:00 pm
Dress warm and join us at the base of the ski mountain for our annual New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks.
New Year’s Eve Party
December 31 @ 9:00 pm-1:00 am
Celebrate the end of a wonderful 2015 and the beginning of a rocking 2016 with DJ Mike.
XC Christmas Luminaria Tour
December 25 @ 6:30 pm
Ski the Enchanted Forest under the warm glow of candlelight. Follow the luminaria lit trail and join the crew for complimentary chile con queso, green chile stew, posole, desserts and hot drinks in the warming hut. $15; $10, children 12 and under; $5 rental skis or snowshoes.
Christmas Eve Fireworks and Torchlight Parade
December 24 @ 5:30 pm
See Red River ski area’s instructors, patrol, and local residents ski and snowboard down the mountain carrying flares. This beautiful show is a 45-plus year tradition and is accompanied by fireworks. The event is kicked off with a Rail Jam, where skiers and snowboarders can show off tricks and stunts.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Torchlight Parade
December 31 @ 5:30 pm
Kick off your New Year celebrations on the FACE and enjoy this special New Year’s Eve torchlight parade and fireworks. Then head into town to party.
Old Fashioned New Year’s Eve Party
December 31 @ 7:30-10:00 pm
The kids can celebrate New Year’s too! They’ll enjoy pizza, music, games and can ring in the new year when the countdown ball drops… at midnight Eastern time!
Christmas Eve Party
December 24 @ 5:00-8:00 pm
This annual party held in the historic lodge includes holiday music, warm fires, twinkling lights, an art project for the kids, and food and drink that are full of good cheer!