El Rancho de las Golondrinas gives visitors an up-close look at Territorial New Mexico history. Not only can you visit with costumed docents as they “live” and work in a restored
rancho, the museum hosts an exciting array of festivals and events. This family-friendly museum proves that you can learn stuff and still have fun.
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El Rancho de las Golondrinas, or "Ranch of the Swallows," showcases the traditions and culture of New Mexico's Hispano past.
The museum, opened in 1972, demonstrates what life was like for people living in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries. At that time, Spain ruled Mexico and large parts of the southwest, including what would become New Mexico.
In its heyday, El Rancho de las Golondrinas was a rest stop, or paraje, for travelers along the Camino Real, or "Royal Road," from Mexico City to Santa Fe and beyond.
Start your tour of Golondrinas at the main "village" complex.
In the 1700s, a village grew up around the ranch built by the Vega y Coca family. The refurbished hacienda is the core of the demonstration village at Golondrinas. The walled complex includes living quarters plus a variety of workshops and other areas essential to ranch life of the day. These include a tin shop, general store, weaving room and a place for butchering. Today, guests are frequently treated to samples of bread or cookies baked in the
horno ovens in the courtyard.
The costumed volunteers know their stuff and really get into their roles.
During museum hours, and at a number of special events, volunteers are stationed throughout the property to interact with visitors. As well as illuminating visitors with short talks, many of the "villagers" demonstrate skills needed to maintain a ranch back in the day. These skills include making cloth (carding, dying and weaving wool), cooking, blacksmithing, tanning hides and threshing.
Be sure to wander beyond the main ranch complex.
There are 33 buildings on the property including a working water mill, a school house, and a winery. Additionally, the museum grows native crops and raises livestock. Plus, there is an orchard, vineyard, and even a graveyard. Also, as accurate to the period, a
torreón (tower) stands sentry over the ranch.
One of the best things about El Rancho de las Golondrinas is the festivals.
Festivals and special are a mainstay of the museum. Almost a dozen festivals are scheduled throughout the museum season. On the slate are annual and periodic events like a Spring and Fiber Fest and a Harvest Festival. While most of the events at Golondrinas are designed for the family, the Fiesta de los Niños is especially for kids. This "festival of the children" includes storytelling, puppet shows, and entertainment. Plus, youngsters can try archery or get their hands dirty trying out old-time skills, like making adobe.
Some events take place every year, like the ¡Viva México! Fiesta.
Some Golondrinas events are crowd favorites and have earned a regular slot on the museum's festival schedule. The ¡Viva México! Fiesta, for one, ties directly into the museum's mission of celebrating Hispano history. This colorful event features Mexican food, crafts, dancing and traditional processions. Of course, there are mariachis.
The Santa Fe Wine Festival is just for adults.
This is Santa Fe's longest-running wines festival. Exclusively for the 21+ crowd, the festival features winemakers and more than 20 handmade wines, all from New Mexico. Food vendors cook up treats to go along with the wine. Also, visitors can browse arts and crafts
and dance to live music.
Travel back to the days of yore at the Santa Fe Renaissance Fair.
Knights, Spanish galleons, jugglers, jousters, and unicorns! What more could one want from a festival? This annual fair is one of the museum's most popular. As well as music, food, and performances, the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) shows up to explain the arts and science of the day. The Renaissance Fair is one of Golondrinas' fund-raising events. Proceeds from the fair help fund the museum's educational programs and the Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences.
You never know what kind of festival the museum staff will cook up.
Striving to have a little something for everyone, Rancho de las Golondrinas adds new events every year. One recent addition was Adventures in Territorial New Mexico, with gun fights and a chuckwagon dinner.
Meanwhile, "Panza Llena, Corazón Contento" (Full Belly, Happy Heart) was all about food history. With a chocolate-making demonstration and biscochitos fresh from the horno, the eaters in the crowd were happy. Come October, museum visitors might even be able to meet some ghosts at "Spirits of New Mexico’s Past."
When you are ready to visit, there area few things you should know.
Since the museum covers 200 acres, plan on at least two hours for a self-guided visit. Guided tour can be reserved, or hop on the daily guided tour in the mornings.
Rancho de las Golondrinas is located about 15 miles outside of Santa Fe at 334 Los Pinos Road. See the museum’s website for hours and additional things you need to know so you can
plan your visit
Have you been to Rancho de las Golondrinas? Did you go to a festival? Which are your favorites?