Santa Fe’s Top 5 Must Do’s for Christmas

Santa Fe’s Top 5 Must Do’s for Christmas Posted by on December 23, 2015 in Holiday, New Mexico, Santa Fe

(Editor’s Note: This blog was originally posted in December 2014. It has been updated and additions made to reflect current and accurate information.)


Santa Fe is a truly remarkable place. Maybe it’s something in the air, the breath-taking landscape, or the perfect blue sky, perhaps it’s all three, but everything here seems just a bit enchanting! There’s no denying Christmas is a magical time of year, and Christmas in Santa Fe is no exception.

Our unique combination of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo heritage creates an atmosphere unparalleled anywhere else in the world. If you aren’t from Santa Fe, spending the holidays here is an experience you won’t soon forget.

An evening stroll around downtown Santa Fe is sure to delight visitors, young and old. The Plaza is dressed to impress for Christmas in an array of holiday lights beginning the weekend of Thanksgiving. But come Christmas Eve the Plaza and Canyon Road get decked out in traditional New Mexican decorations called Faralitos and Luminarias. Faralito is Spanish for “little lantern”. They are made using small paper bags, anchored with sand on the bottom, and alight from a votive candle. During the evening of Christmas Eve, Faralitos will line rooftops, walls, and sidewalks, lighting your stroll while participants enjoy hot chocolate and spontaneous carols. A luminaria is a small bonfire – you are most likely to encounter these on a stroll down Canyon Road. This annual event is a must for anyone in Santa Fe during Christmas and is quite a sight to behold.

Numerous Pueblos, within a short drive from Santa Fe, celebrate the holidays with various feast days and Christmas celebrations. Some are open to the public while others you must be a resident of guest of a resident. Attending an area Pueblo celebration is a unique experience, allowing visitors the opportunity to witness ceremonial dances and see traditional costumes. Along with being a visual feast, visiting a pueblo offers the chance to purchase traditional arts, crafts and culinary delights exclusive to each pueblo.

Enjoy Christmas in Santa Fe with our picks for the “Top 5 Must Do’s” for Christmas!

1. Spend a Day exploring the Plaza

It is a great way to spend time during the holidays. Fabulous art, unique gifts, local fashion, and savory treats await. Stop in for lunch at Tia Sophia’s and enjoy some delicious New Mexican cuisine.

2. Christmas Eve Faralito Walk on Canyon Road (and the Plaza)

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Canyon Road neighborhood. Enjoy caroling and traditional New Mexican Christmas decorations. Stop in to Geronimo’s for dinner or to enjoy a tasty dessert and coffee.

3. Midnight Mass at Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Known as Noche Buena. Children will delight in this “Rooster’s Mass”, commemorating a folk story about the animals in the manger where Christ was born.

4. Visit and explore an area Pueblo!

We advise you confirm if each pueblo is open to public for events. (See list below for calendar of events near Santa Fe or go the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for more information.

  • Christmas Eve Celebrations
  • Ohkay Owingeh – Spanish Dance drama Los Matachines and Pine Torch Procession. (505)852-4400
  • Taos Pueblo – Sundown Procession with bonfires. (575)758-1028
  • San Felipe Pueblo – Dances after Midnight Mass. (505)867-3381
  • Santa Ana Pueblo – Dances after Midnight Mass. (505)867-3301
  • Tesuque Pueblo – Dances after Midnight Mass. (505)455-2036
  • Nambe Pueblo – Buffalo Dances after Mass. (505)455-2036
  • Christmas Day Celebrations
  • Tesuque Pueblo – Various Dances
  • Taos Pueblo – Dances to be announced (Deer or Los Matachines).
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo – Special Dances TBA.
  • Ohkay Owingeh – various dances.

5.  Enjoy some New Mexican Food

Posole, tamales and chile are Christmas traditions for New Mexicans. There are several great restaurants around town to eat some great food. Or pick up some tamales and enjoy them at home. Enjoy some great food with family and friends. Check out our recipes for posole and biscochitos along with other New Mexican Christmas traditions.


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