When winter settles in, holiday lights are ablaze, and festive activities abound. You may even see snow on the Sandia Mountains to help set the mood. Let’s discover some of the fun ways to enjoy the winter holidays in Albuquerque.
Celebrate the Winter Holidays at Old Town Albuquerque
The heart of Albuquerque is Old Town, and this historic neighborhood goes all out for the holidays. The area will be lit with paper lanterns called luminarias or farolitos, depending on which part of the state you’re from. (The southern and central parts of New Mexico call them luminarias while those from Northern New Mexico call them farolitos. Either way, they’re festive little lights in paper bags weighted with sand that are commonly seen at Christmas)
The first Friday of December is the Old Town Holiday Stroll, with local businesses decked out in holiday style and open late for shoppers. Some even offer tastes of traditional Christmas fare like our state cookie, the biscochito, and hot cider. The night also features music and the lighting of the Christmas tree on Plaza Don Luis. Of course, you can enjoy the tree all season long!
On Christmas Eve, enjoy the Luminaria Walk in Old Town and the surrounding neighborhoods. Some streets may be closed to vehicular traffic so visitors can enjoy walking from home to home to experience the lights.
The Old Town Gazebo is also home to some holiday music on weekends.
Christmas Mass at San Felipe de Neri Church
Consider visiting a church that has been part of Albuquerque for more than 300 years in a building constructed in 1793 for Christmas Mass. The church schedules Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in both English and Spanish. See the current schedule here.
Explore the River of Lights
A popular way to get into the Christmas spirit is to visit the River of Lights at the Albuquerque BioPark Botanical Garden. Enjoy hundreds of lighted displays while you stroll through the gardens at night. Proceeds from the event support the BioPark. You can get there by catching a free ART bus from Old Town or using the free Park and Ride. Learn more in our story about the River of Lights.
Pueblo Feast Days
Some of the pueblos within reasonable driving distance from Albuquerque host Mass and dances on Christmas Eve and some other days near the holidays. Acoma Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, and San Felipe Pueblo may hold events that are open to the public, but be sure to check on the schedule and rules for visiting.
Free Activities for the Holidays
We’ve curated a list of fun and free holiday events for you to explore in this article, including craft activities and musical performances at the libraries, and a lot more.
Holiday Performances Get You into the Spirit
With plenty of venues offering holiday performances, from theaters to churches, you’re sure to find some that are just right for you. Some are free and some have a donation or ticket required, so do some exploring online to find something that appeals to your holiday style.
Dive into the Snow
If you’re looking for something more outdoorsy to do, how about doing some sledding or tubing? When the weather is right, you can enjoy sledding and tubing at the three snow hills at Capulin Snow Play Site on the east side of the Sandia Mountains in the Cibola National Forest. There are also nearby places where you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, and ski resorts near Albuquerque and Santa Fe for downhill skiing. A ride up the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway takes you up to the snow while providing awe-inspiring views.
No matter how you like to celebrate the holidays, there’s a fun way to do it in Albuquerque!