By Nina Anthony | November 18, 2014
The first time I visited Taos was over the holidays. My husband and I had spent the previous couple of Christmas holidays in Italy but the dollar had plummeted in value and we decided that visiting New Mexico would be as close as we could get to feeling like we were visiting a foreign land without leaving the country. We weren’t disappointed.
The multicultural diversity of northern New Mexico makes the holiday season here distinctly different from the typical American Christmas. The golden flicker of farolitos lining streets and adobe rooftops. The crackling glow of piñon wood burning in a kiva fireplace, scenting the air with its distinct aroma. Traditional holiday feasts of red and green chile, tamales, posole and bischochitos. The food, traditions, decorations and events of Taos and northern New Mexico transport visitors to another time and place.
Five years after that first fateful visit to Taos, my husband and I moved here and not a holiday season goes by to this day that I don’t appreciate those same sights, sounds and tastes that tantalized my senses some 25 years ago.
Here’s a list of some favorite holiday events in Taos and beyond. You’ll find a full list of traditional holiday happenings on the BeyondTaos.com Calendar.
Yuletide in Taos
Yuletide in Taos encompasses all the unique traditions and special events of the holiday season from Thanksgiving weekend onward.
Yuletide Arts and Crafts Fair – November 28-29, 2014, 10 am – 5 pm; November 30, 2014, 11 am – 4 pm, Bataan Hall and Rio Grande Hall, 121 Civic Plaza Drive. From traditional punched tinwork and handcrafted jewelry to handmade soaps and personal care items, this is the place to shop if you love giving handcrafted gifts made by local artisans.
Festival of Wreaths and Trees – December 5, 2014, 6 -10 pm, El Monte Sagrado Living Resort Conference Center, 317 Kit Carson Rd., Taos. Silent auction of wreaths and trees decorated by local organizations, businesses and individuals to benefit Taos non profits. Music and dancing courtesy of The Damn Band, food, drinks, and a raffle. $20 entry fee, includes drink ticket, appetizers and live music.
Lighting of Ledoux – December 6, 2014, 5 – 7 pm. For this beloved annual event of locals and visitors alike, Ledoux Street is blocked-off to traffic and is open to pedestrians only. Bonfires and farolitos light the way to galleries, the Harwood Museum and stores, many of which offer goodies such as cookies, hot chocolate and hot cider and free performances from music to an annual fashion show. This year, look for exciting pop-up installations from some of the Paseo artists.
Nutcracker Market – Friday, December 6, 2014 – Sunday, December 14, 2014: 10 am – 4 pm. (NOTE: The Fechin Museum is closed on Mondays.) Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. The Museum is pleased to announce its first annual Nutcracker Holiday Artist Market featuring handcrafted works in wood, tin, jewelry, pottery, photography, prints and fiber made by local artisans. Find unique affordable gifts amid the warmth and splendor of Nicolai Fechin’s studio.
Caroling and Tree Lighting at the Historic Taos Inn – December 6, 2014, 6:30 – 7 pm. Locals and visitors gather in for hot chocolate and Christmas cheer in what’ known by locals as the Living Room of Taos. Soak up the warm community spirit amid, the glow of the holiday season with our “over the top” sparkle and tinsel decor and the lighting of the Taos Inn Tree with 10,000 lights! Stay for the live music by Taos musician Jimmy Stadler.
Santa Paws at the John Dunn Shops and Bonfires on Bent Street – December 13, 2014, 10 am – 7 pm. Start the afternoon posing for a photo of your pet with Santa (12 pm – 4 pm). In this benefit for St. James Food Panty, pets available for adoption will also be present. The John Dunn Shops will be offering guests hot beverages and snacks. When the sun sets, stroll along historic Bent Street and enjoy bonfires to warm you, snacks in the shops, (and lots of great gifts to purchase, of course!), plus music and events all day for the family. Reception 4 – 7 pm with farolitos and luminaries.
Taos Chamber Music Group Presents “A Russian Holiday” – December 13-14, 2014 5 pm, Harwood Museum of Art Let the Taos Chamber Music Group take you on a holiday tour from the mountains of Azerbaijan to the splendor of St. Petersburg, featuring the extraordinary Russian pianist Gleb Ivanov in solo piano works by Rachmaninoff as well as Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio and Six Pieces for flute and piano by Fikret Amirov. Gleb Ivanov, piano, LP How, violin, Sally Guenther, cello, Nancy Laupheimer, flute.
Las Posadas – December 14-22, 2014, outside of Ranchos Church in Ranchos de Taos, 6 pm nightly. An annual re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging (over nine nights) in preparation for the birth of Jesus. On the final night they, along with their faithful followers who carry candles and sing Christmas songs, are given a room amid singing and rejoicing.
Robert Mirabal & Special Guest Robby Romero and Friends, A Holiday Concert – December 19, 2014; 7 pm., Taos Community Auditorium Two-time Grammy winning Native American musician and performer Robert Mirabal, returns to the TCA for his annual holiday community concert joined by special guest Native Rock recording artist Robby Romero. For ticket information, visit the Taos Community Auditorium website.
La Noche on Taos Plaza – December 20, 2014, Historic Taos Plaza, 5 – 8 pm. People have been gathering on Taos Plaza for centuries. Continue the tradition by strolling around the town square and visiting the Plaza shops filled with a diverse array of offerings — from jewelry to western wear to antiques and souvenirs. Bonfires and hot cocoa will warm your body while the festive atmosphere warms your soul.
Taos Pueblo Christmas Eve Vespers and Bonfires – December 24, 5-7 pm. This 1,000-year old UNESCO site blesses Christmas Eve with the procession of Mary through the Pueblo. Large bonfire displays spark in the cold winter night while gunfire from the rooftops salutes the passage of the procession. You won’t want to miss this most magical experience. And be sure to dress warm! (A dramatic panoramic poster of this event is available from photographer Gus Foster.)
Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Ceremonial Dances at Taos Pueblo – December 25, January 1. On Christmas Day, Taos Pueblo alternates between the Deer Dance and Los Matachines Dance. You won’t know which soul-stirring ceremonial you will have the honor of witnessing until the day of the event (or a few days before if the tribal council makes the announcement to the public). The latter dance is rooted in Spanish culture, evolving over hundreds of years with the Moors and adopted/adapted by Spanish colonists who brought it with them to the New World. The Turtle Dance is scheduled for New Year’s Day. Both dances usually start around mid-day. These are sacred ceremonials and as such, the Pueblo asks that you pay the same respect you would in your church at home. No photography is allowed.
Taos Ski Vally
Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade – December 24, 2014, Taos Ski Valley Resort Center, 6 pm. Watch torch-bearing skiers make their way down Als’s Run in the dark with the flares of their torches lighting the way and creating a dazzling light show for spectators. The parade ends at the Base of Chair #1. Dress warm!
Calling All Flakes – November 29, 2014, The Lodge at Angel Fire resort, 6 pm – 8 pm. This annual event in Angel Fire is always a fun, festive evening of food, music and bravado while participants call forth the snow for another magical winter season.
Angel Fire Community Tree Lighting – December 5, 2014, Angel Fire Village Hall, 3388 Mountain View Blvd 5 – 7 pm. Kick off the holiday season with the village tree lighting accompanied by caroling.
Switch on the Holidays – November 27, 2014, 7 pm, Brandenburg Park Thanksgiving kicks off the holidays in Red River with Christmas caroling and the annual tree lighting before the festivities then move indoors for hot cocoa, cider, cookies and a special visit from Santa!
4th Annual Arts and Crafts Bazaar – November 29, 2014 10 am – 4pm, Red River Community House Area artisans, crafts people offer collectables, jewelry, handmade lotions, soaps, clothing, Holiday decorations and so much more for sale. Special Guest Jack the traveling Bull Dog, and local author Kat Pruitt. Refreshments and door prizes.
Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort
Christmas Eve Party – December 24, 2014, Sipapu Lodge, 5 – 8 pm. The Christmas Eve party at the historic Sipapu lodge is an annual tradition at Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort. The atmosphere of good cheer includes holiday music, warm fires, twinkling lights, an art project for the kids, and festive food and drink.
Chimayo and the High Road to Taos Villages
Las Posadas at Parish Missions & Santuario de Chimayo – December 14-22, 7:00pm. Posadas are an important part of northern New Mexico Christmas celebrations that originated hundreds of years ago in Spain. (The word posada means “inn” or “shelter” in Spanish, and these celebrations re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem.) Typically, posadas are held on each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas and are said to represent the nine days journey to Bethlehem. This re-enactment will proceed through the various mission churches along the High Road to Taos area, culminating on December 22nd at the Sanctuario de Chimayo. All Posadas subject to cancellation in the event of bad weather. Call 351-9961 to confirm.
Farmington Christmas Parade, December 3, 2014, Main Street Along Historic Downtown Farmington. Parade starts at 5:45 pm. Bundle up the little ones for this family favorite. The annual Christmas parade in Farmington features Christmas carolers, lighted floats, bands and of course Santa Claus.
Riverglo – December 4, 2014, Berg Park, 6 – 8 pm. Take in the beauty of hundreds of luminarias as they line the hiking trails along the Animas River. Carolers, musical performances, bonfires, a live nativity re-enactment and of course Santa add to the festive atmosphere.
San Juan College Luminarias – December 6, 2014, 4601 College Blvd., dusk. This eye dazzling display illuminates the campus of San Juan College with thousands of candlelit bags — one of the largest luminaria displays in northwest New Mexico. Enjoy the glow of the luminarias, holiday music, carolers, hot chocolate, a star gaze and live nativity.
Reindeer Romp 5K Run & North Poll Stroll, Orchard Plaza in Historic Downtown Farmington, race begins at 3:30 pm. Come participate in the Reindeer Romp or the North Pole Stroll at Orchard Plaza in Historic Downtown Farmington. This event will feature a 5K Reindeer Romp (chip timed) and a 2 Mile North Pole Stroll. Registration is $15 which includes a shirt. This family-friendly event includes children’s winter carnival games, live holiday music, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, holiday cookies, and a chance to see Santa!
Christmas Festival in the Mountains – December 6, 2014, 9 am – 3pm, Chama Elementary School Gym. Affordable, one-of-a-kind gifts from more than 30 vendors will keep you occupied for hours. Santa makes his annual appearance for the kids between 11 am and 3 pm. For more information visit the Chama Chamber of Commerce website or call (575)756-4239.
Happy Holidays and Feliz Navidad!