Christmas is my favorite time of year in New Mexico because, each night, the state is lit by glow of farolitos. Some of our towns and cities really embrace the spirit of the season and go all out with decorations, parades, light displays, and winter activities. Here are the 12 most enchanting places to visit this Christmas:
Carlsbad is home to a light spectacular that you’ll never forget. Christmas on the Pecos is a major and unique event, where you view more than 100 light displays while floating down the river.
On December 10th, take the kids to Living Desert State Park for a holiday celebration where they can make Christmas cards and have their faces painted.
Duke City is magical in December. Be wowed by the River of Lights at the ABQ Biopark, marvel at the Old Town Plaza draped in decorations, or sign up for the Christmas Eve luminaria trolley tour. Albuquerque even has a giant snowman made out of tumbleweeds!
3. Los Alamos
The town’s winter parade may already be over, but the lights around Ashley Pond keep the festive spirit alive. There are plenty of winter-themed activities in Los Alamos from outdoor ice skating to skiing at Pajarito Mountain.
Ruidoso Winter Park is actually located in Alto. Get into the spirit of the season with some tubing at this snow play park.
In historical terms, Madrid is the ultimate New Mexican Christmas town. Back when it was a company-run, coal-mining village, its light display was so extraordinary that airlines detoured flights to give passengers an aerial view of it. The light parade has been and gone but, on Saturdays in December, stores remain open late, and Santa comes to town so it's a great time to take in the holiday lights while you do a little shopping.
Mescalero is home to Inn of the Mountain Gods, which is always beautifully decorated for the season. Ski Apache, which opens on December 9th, is also nearby. On December 28th, there is a torchlight parade and fireworks display here, helping you get into the festive spirit.
Another ski town that’s a wonderland around Christmas is Taos. The plaza is the festive hub, illuminated with Christmas lights. At Taos Pueblo, Christmas Eve is marked by mass, bonfires, and a religious-themed procession.
Head to Belen if you’re searching for an affordable but impressive Christmas light display. The Bugg Lights at the Harvey House are free (although donations are welcomed) and it includes 200,000 lights.
9. Las Cruces
At Christmas, New Mexico State University is covered with luminarias. The university also puts on several festive events, such as Tuba Christmas on December 17th, a musical performance that takes place at Las Cruces Downtown Plaza.
10. Angel Fire
Angel Fire is bewitching in December, with a Christmas Eve torchlight parade on the slopes, followed by a fireworks display. You can even take a sleigh ride (through Road Runner tours).
11. Santa Fe
The trees in Santa Fe’s plaza look like jewels when wrapped in colorful lights and you can view even more lights at Glow, a display at the botanic garden. Christmas Eve is marked by the extremely popular farolito walk along Canyon Road. On December 17th and 18th the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performs the Nutcracker and groups like Santa Fe Desert Chorale perform carols.
Mesilla Plaza is washed with warm light from the luminarias placed around it on Christmas Eve, when you can also hear a performance by carol singers.
Which cities and towns do you like to visit during the holiday season? We’ve put together
this road trip to help you explore New Mexico’s lights this Christmas.