5 Things To Love About Santa Fe At Christmas

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Holiday festivities combined with the cultural charms of Santa Fe, New Mexico are a potent mix. Are you planning a visit? Resident expert, Billie Frank from The Santa Fe Traveler, shares her tips with our baby boomer readers in today’s guest post.

Christmas at Turner Carroll
Christmas at Turner Carroll

Santa Fe is a magical place to visit and a special place to live. The Christmas holidays are truly a festive time in The City Different. Here are five reasons baby boomer travelers should plan a visit to Santa Fe during the holiday season.

1. Festive décor

Boomers will find that the entire downtown area and much of the historic east-side is decorated and lit up by fairy lights and strings of electrified farolitos (traditionally, paper bags filled with sand with a lit votive candle).

2. Holiday music

Christmas is a season for music in Santa Fe. There are a lot of traditional musical events to keep baby boomer visitors busy. The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s annual presentation of The Nutcracker is a treat. There’s nothing like holiday music to get you in the spirit.

3. Shopping

Santa Fe is one of the best places in the world to shop for Native American art. The high-end galleries get the best of the best. Want to find the better prices? Buy directly from Native American artisans under the portal at the historic Palace of the Governors.

Fine examples of Spanish Colonial art can be found in galleries around town. There are also the great holiday markets: SWAIA’s Winter Indian Market and Winter Spanish Market are highlights of the shopping season.

I love picking out unique ornaments at The Shop a Christmas Store and Susan’s Christmas Shop across from each other on East Palace Avenue. Tesuque Glasswork’s annual open house and sale is a great place to find hand-blown glass at bargain prices. And don’t forget the delicious Santa Fe Chocolate Trail.

4. Christmas Eve

On this special night, historic Canyon Road, home to many of the town’s over 200 galleries, is closed to traffic. Farolitos are lit and luminarias (small piñon bonfires) burn. It seems like the whole town turns out to walk the road, break into impromptu carols and greet friends. Merchants stay open to catch last minute shoppers; some serve hot drinks and cookies to the cold crowd.

Basilica at Christmas
Basilica at Christmas

Santa Fe is a strongly Catholic city, which makes sense, considering that the ctiy’s first European settlers were from Spain. You’ll find their influence at The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. The namesake of the city has a distinct New Mexican stamp in the décor. Midnight Mass here is a tradition and the church is packed to the rafters so baby boomers should come early.

5. Pueblo dances

The Spaniards left their mark on the Pueblos, too. There is an outwardly expressed amalgam of the two religions. The Christmas season brings dances to the Pueblos of New Mexico. If you are fortunate to be in Santa Fe for the holidays, attend these. Pueblo members dance much as they have been for hundreds of years in traditional dress. Baby boomer visitors will feel as if they’ve gone back in time. If you go, it is important to follow the etiquette as these are considered religious ceremonies. Many of the Pueblos have events open to the public both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

All photos in this post are courtesy of Steve Collins.

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