Santa Fe is a lovely city to visit. Sitting at the Sangre de Cristo foothills, this capital city is known for its Pueblo-style architecture and its rich performing arts community. It is home to the New Mexico History Museum, the Palace of the Governors, the Santa Fe Plaza and other terrific landmarks.
The city makes a great place for a Christmas vacation. There are so many things to see and do. Here are some you will want to check out when you visit.
Tree Lighting at Santa Fe Plaza
Santa Fe Plaza is known as the central gathering place for the city. It hosts several annual events. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has a park with grass trees, benches and a performing arts stage.
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, the city hosts a tree lighting ceremony at the plaza that includes local choirs, brass ensembles, native dancers and songs. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are escorted in on a fire truck. Volunteers being lighting farolitos (luminarias) just as it’s getting dark. Then the mayor, city councilors and other dignitaries come in for the tree lighting itself.
Holiday Pie Mania
Holiday Pie Mania takes place in November before Thanksgiving. It’s a great way to check out unique pies and it ensures you will have one on hand for your holiday festivities.
The event takes place at the Builder’s Source Appliance Gallery and it doubles as a benefit for The Food Depot, Santa Fe’s Local food bank. Each chef makes a pie for the crowd to sample. These include traditional and exotic flavors that can range from pumpkin to chocolate to green chile.
There are also pie auctions that take place. Winners go home with one pie and get two more they can order for the holidays.
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Performs the Nutcracker
If you enjoy watching the Nutcracker ballet during the holiday season, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet presents it with a twist.
The first part of the ballet follows Clara and the Nutcracker prince as they met the Sugar Plum fairy, but somewhere in the middle of the play, things take a turn. Circus performers and aerialists are brought in to add to the excitement. 10 pounds of confetti is also strewn around the stage.
The performance features 70 children and 60 professional dancers brought in from all parts of the world including Russia and China.
Midnight Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi is worth checking out. It features a Romanesque edifice that combines the look of a traditional cathedral with New Mexican Spanish art influences like religious paintings done on wood.
The Conquistadora Chapel is a main point of interest. Located at the left front of the chapel, it is the only remaining section of the original parish church. The church also holds the oldest statue of the Virgin Mary which was brought back to the city in 1692 after surviving the Pueblo Revolt.
The Basilica is a must-see Santa Fe destination and a great place to attend Midnight Mass. If you are planning to go to the church for this event, be sure to get there early. Seats will fill up fast.
Annual Christmas Open House at the New Mexico Art Museum
The New Mexico Museum of Art houses more than 20,000 works of American and European art including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, photographs and more. Every year the facility hosts a Christmas Open House featuring a marionette show with the famous 1930’s Baumann Marionettes.
The marionettes perform two shows followed by a treasure hunt, photos with Santa, a create your own puppet workshop, carol singing and holiday refreshments.
Glow- A Winter Holiday Lights Event at Santa Fe Botanical Garden
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden sits on the city’s Museum Hill. It’s a great place to take tours and learn about plant educations. It is part of a complex with a wetland and a mountain preserve.
At Christmastime, the garden transforms into a winter wonderland with thousands of lights including LEDs, floodlights, kinetic lights and fairy lights that illuminate the flora and fauna. Santa is on hand and there is plenty of live music. Come early to catch the sunset that has inspired so many artists over the years.
Christmas at the Palace of the Governors
The Palace of the Governors is the oldest government building in continuous use in the USA. It is an adobe structure located on Palace Avenue on the Plaza of Santa Fe.
The Palace lights up for Christmas and locals and tourists are welcome to come in for the open house event. They can explore the building as well as the New Mexico History Museum that sits just across the way.
The courtyard will be fill of luminaries and holiday treats will be served. There are Christmas themed pinatas and Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be in attendance. Live music is performed by professional and children’s groups.
Las Posadas is a candlelight procession that takes place in downtown Santa Fe. It is meant to pay tribute to Mary and Joseph’s walk through the desert. It begins at the Palace of the Governor and makes its way through the Plaza picking up people along the way.
A recreation of the event occurs as the people reach the ‘inn’ the holy couple is searching for. The devil pops out appearing in a flash of light cursing at them menacingly. This happens three times at various locations around the plaza.
When the procession is over, people gather in the plaza for holiday treats.
Canyon Rd. Christmas Eve Farolito Walk
It is traditional for Santa Fe residents to gather for the Farolito walk. This takes place on Canyon Rd and the street is closed for the event. Farolitos (usually small paper bags filled with sand and topped with a candle), bonfires and electric luminaries are placed throughout the street. People walk along singing carols and some houses offer hot chocolate and treats for participants.
Santa Fe is truly a magic place to visit during the holidays. The city is full of culture, tradition and art making it the perfect Christmas destination. What will you be doing when you’re in town?