Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza is ablaze with luminarias, paper bags with candles, on Christmas Eve. — Photo courtesy of Steve Larese
Albuquerque welcomes the holiday season with a packed calendar of events. Here are some of Duke City’s biggest festivals that will make the greatest Scrooge smile.
New to Albuquerque this year is the 25th Annual Spanish Winter Market, 29.-30. November. This event, formerly held in Santa Fe, is the country’s oldest and largest Spanish market at the Hotel Albuquerque near Old Town. Showcasing the work of more than 100 members of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, it included traditional tin stamping, painting, retablos, and other traditional New Mexico art forms.
Also the opening of the weekend of November 29th is the very first Cliff’s Magical Christmas. Albuquerque’s popular Cliff’s amusement park opens for the winter through December 29 with a light show, music, Christmas dinner, Santa Claus and rides.
Join Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry as he helps light New Mexico’s largest menorah at the Civic Plaza Chanukah Celebration on December 1 at 4:30 p.m. (401 2nd St. NW). The celebration continues afterwards at the Convention Center with a kosher dinner, children’s activities and performances by the Pink Flamingos and Eli Marcus (US$8 adults, US$5 children). click here for more information and reservations.
Speaking of lights, the ABQ Biopark yearbook flow of lights is a popular Albuquerque tradition that draws crowds from November 30th to January 1st. 5 (closed Dec. 24 and 25). Stroll over New Mexico’s largest light show while carol singers sing and hot chocolate flows nightly from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Hundreds of light shows depicting plants, animals, and holiday scenes light up the grounds. Admission is $10 (children 3-13 are $5; children under 3 are free).
The old town gets into the Christmas spirit with its yearbook on December 6th Holiday stroll through the old town and lighting of the tree at Don Luis Plaza followed by the arrival of Santa Claus. Free concerts start at 4pm, with the illuminations at 6:10pm and the Santa Parade afterwards. Hundreds of luminarias line the plaza – a precursor to the thousands that will flicker on Christmas Eve. On December 24th, the entire old town is lined with luminarias when carol singers sing and the hot chocolate flows.
The next day, December 7th, Nob Hill is awash with luminarias and family entertainment for its annual festival from noon to 10pm Nob Hill Shop and Walk and Sparkling parade of lights. The parade begins at 5:15 p.m. at the corner of Central and Girard and heads west on Central.
A great ski season is forecast for New Mexico this year, depending on snow conditions Ski area Sandia will hopefully open to skiers and shredders this month, and sledders will love the free Sandia Snow Play Area. Tubing and sledding bring families to the open slope south of the ski area, which usually has enough powder for these activities, even though the ski area isn’t open yet. Snowshoeing at 10,000 feet is another popular local activity atop Sandia Mountain. Take the Sandia Tram to the summit or drive up the back of the mountain to the ridge via the windy NM 536.