Albuquerque Old Town on Christmas Eve. — Photo courtesy of Steve Larese
Start the season Friday, Dec. 2 with the annual lighting of the tree at Don Luis Plaza in Old Town, 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. http://albuquerqueoldtown.com/index.php?page=holiday-stroll.
Walk through a winter wonderland at the Albuquerque BioPark’s River of Lights, nightly 6 p.m.-9 p.m through Dec. 30. (closed Dec. 24 and 25). Hundreds of light displays depicting plants, animals and holiday scenes set the grounds aglow at New Mexico’s largest walk-through light show. Admission is $8 (children 3 to 13 are $4; children younger than 2 are free). http://www.cabq.gov/biopark/garden/events/river-of-lights
Depending on the snow, Sandia Ski Area 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. http://www.sandiapeak.com