December in Albuquerque brings Christmas celebrations of many kinds. We looked for holiday events to share that are fun, free, and festive. Here are some free things to do that will help get you into the Christmas spirit.
Old Town Holiday Stroll
The season kicks off on the first day of December with the Old Town Holiday Stroll, sponsored by the City of Albuquerque. On December 1, be there at 6 p.m. for the lighting of the Christmas tree on Plaza Don Luis, followed by hot chocolate and entertainment by local musicians and dance groups. Visits with Old Saint Nick himself are available from 5 to 9 p.m.
The event will be held rain or shine, and well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome to join in the festivities. Note that streets throughout Old Town will be closed starting at 3 p.m., so give yourself plenty of time to find someplace to park.
Entertainment will continue on the plaza throughout December.
Twinkle Light Parade
Head to the historic Nob Hill section of Albuquerque for the Twinkle Light Parade, which takes place at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, December 2. This free community event features about 4,000 participants in 260 vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances, and even cement mixers, plus those participating on foot, like dance groups and athletic teams.
The parade starts on Central Avenue at Washington Street and heads a mile to Girard Boulevard. Skip the traffic by parking at the lot on the southwest corner of Lomas and University Boulevards and taking the shuttle that will run until 10:30 p.m.
Nob Hill shops and restaurants will be open during the parade.
Luminaria de Abó
If you’re up for a drive, head to Abó Mission, part of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. On December 2, more than 1,000 luminaries will brighten the historic ruins. There will also be live music, free refreshments, and piñatas for the kids to smash.
The Abó Mission is on Highway 60 nine miles west of Mountainair. Parking is available onsite, but if the lot is full, overflow parking with a free shuttle will be available one mile east of the entrance. Well-behaved leashed pets are welcome.
The afternoon begins with Mass at 4 p.m. with a posada reenactment following. The luminarias will be lit from 5:30 to 7 p.m. when there will be hot cocoa and hot apple cider, tamales, and biscochito cookies available until the little elves have gobbled them all up.
Holiday Fun at the Library
The City of Albuquerque has 18 library locations and they’re not just a place to research a topic or check out a book. The libraries have a wonderful assortment of free events for youngsters, teens, and adults on a regular basis, including some especially for the holidays.
Start off by dropping off your kiddo’s letter to Santa at the Central & Unser and Main library branches. Santa will send your child a letter back! There are lots of movie parties, including the ever-popular Polar Express Pajama Party (Main Library, Dec. 2) with hot cocoa and cookies and a Polar Express Watch Party with snacks (San Pedro Library, Dec. 16). Check the schedule for even more holiday movie fun.
Get hands-on and decorate a wreath (San Pedro Library, Dec. 2), make your own snow (Cherry Hills Library, Dec. 6), create a Druid Christmas Ornament (Erna Fergusson Library, Dec. 14), craft a book-themed ornament (South Broadway Library, Dec. 16) or an amigurumi ornament (Tony Hillerman Library, Dec. 16), whip up gingerbread crafts (Juan Tabo Library, Dec. 22), and more.
Enjoy a performance of music by the Sandia Mountain Dulcimers and Friends at the Lomas Tramway Library on December 23 at 3 p.m. for a final fun, free, and festive event to get you ready for Christmas.
Find all the library events and registration for those that require it at the website.