Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza on Christmas Eve is aglow in luminarias, paper sacks with candles. — Photo courtesy of Steve Larese
Albuquerque embraces the holiday season with a full calendar of events. Here are a few of the Duke City's largest festivals that'll make the biggest Scrooge smile.
New in Albuquerque this year is the 25th Annual Winter Spanish Market, Nov. 29-30. Held in Santa Fe in the past, this event at Hotel Albuquerque near Old Town is the oldest and largest Spanish Market in the country. It features the work of more than 100 members of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society and included traditional tin punching, painting, retablos and other traditional New Mexico art forms.
Also opening the weekend of Nov. 29 is the first-ever Cliff’s Magical Christmas. Albuquerque favorite Cliff’s Amusement Park opens for the winter through Dec. 29 with a light display, music, holiday food, Santa Claus and amusement rides.
Join Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry as he helps light New Mexico's largest Menorah at the Civic Plaza Chanukah Celebration, Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. (401 2nd St. NW). The celebration continues after in the Convention Center with a kosher dinner, kid activities and performances by the Pink Flamingos and Eli Marcus ($8 adults, $5 children). Click here for more information and reservations.
Speaking of lights, the ABQ Biopark’s annual River of Lights is a beloved Albuquerque tradition that wows crowds Nov. 30-Jan. 5 (closed Dec. 24 and 25). Stroll New Mexico’s largest light display as carolers sing and hot chocolate flows nightly 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Hundreds of light displays depicting plants, animals and holiday scenes set the grounds aglow. Admission is $10 (children 3 to 13 are $5; children younger than 3 are free).
Old Town gets into the holiday spirit Dec. 6 with its annual Old Town Holiday Stroll and lighting of the tree at Don Luis Plaza, followed by the arrival of Santa Claus. Free concerts begin at 4 p.m., with the lighting at 6:10 p.m. and Santa Parade after. Hundreds of luminarias line the Plaza – a precursor to the thousands that will flicker on Christmas Eve. On Dec. 24, all of Old Town is outlined with luminarias as carolers sing and the hot chocolate flows.
The next day, Dec. 7, Nob Hill is awash in luminarias and family entertainment noon to 10 p.m. for its annual Nob Hill Shop and Stroll and Twinkle Light Parade. The parade starts at 5:15 p.m. at the corner of Central and Girard and travels west on Central.
New Mexico is predicted to have a great ski season this year, and depending on the snow Sandia Ski Area hopefully opens to skiers and shredders this month, and sledders will love the free Sandia Snow Play Area. Tubing and sledding bring families to the open slope south of the ski area, which usually has enough powder for these activities even if the ski area isn’t open yet. Snowshoeing at 10,000 feet is another popular local activity at the top of Sandia Mountain. Take the Sandia Tram to the top, or drive up the backside of the mountain to the crest via windy N.M. 536.