It seems like there’s always some kind of festival happening in New Mexico, from Renaissance Faires to county fairs. All of these events can be a blast. But the festivals on this list offer something a little different. Be sure to add these eight unique events to your calendar.
1. Roswell UFO Festival, Roswell
In Roswell, July 4th is not just a celebration of our nation’s independence; it’s also the weekend of the annual UFO festival. Whether you’re an ardent believer or a total skeptic, you’ll be welcome at this event. Over the course of three days there are costume contests – for both humans and pets – a light parade complete with spaceships, and 5k and 10k races known as “alien chases.” How can you resist?
2. The Great American Duck Race, Deming
For one weekend in August, Deming goes completely quackers. There aren’t too many places where you can watch live duck races or where there’s a pageant to determine who gets crowned duck royalty!
3. Pie Festival, Pie Town
Pie town is a teeny tiny place, near Datil and the continental divide. This town is home to fewer than 200 people and it’s known for one thing. You guessed it: pie! Every day, the smell of baking apples wafts through town. But, in September, things get intense with a pie-baking contest. If you’re no culinary whiz, you can still take part in the pie-eating contest or cheer on contestants in the horned toad races.
4. The annual burning of Will Schuster’s Zozobra, Santa Fe
Whether you consider this event spooky or inspiring, it’s undeniably unique. Each year, a fifty-foot tall puppet is set alight. Supposedly, the flames consume feelings of doom and misery and replace them with optimism. The puppet rarely goes down without a fight. It flaps its arms and emits strange groaning noises. If you go, it’ll be a night you’ll remember forever.
5. Hatch Chile Festival, Hatch
The Hatch Chile Festival is the ultimate New Mexican experience. This two-day event is held on Labor Day weekend. Highlights include a chile eating contest, ristra demonstrations, and a parade.
6. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque
This is largest hot air ballooning event on the planet. It spans nine days and features unforgettable mass ascensions in which hundreds of balloons take to the skies. The evenings are devoted to “glow” events. In other words, the burners inflate tethered balloons, turning them into huge, floating candles. This fiesta is unique because attendees can wander freely between inflating balloons and really be part of the experience.
7. Festival of Cranes in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, near Socorro
Whether you’re a diehard birder or a complete amateur, the sight of birds blanketing this wildlife refuge is magnificent. The soundtrack of honking geese makes this a truly immersive experience. Arrive before dawn to witness flocks take off en masse. During the festival there are special tours and workshops all about waterfowl.
8. Christmas on the Pecos, Carlsbad
The only thing better than a holiday light show is one that takes place on the water. Embrace the festive spirit by boarding a boat and drifting through a darkness that is illuminated by one hundred plus light displays.
For a preview of Christmas on the Pecos, check out this video.
What annual event in New Mexico is your favorite? Have you been to any other quirky festivals?