There is so much to do during the holidays in any major city. Albuquerque is one of the most fun cities to spend time in during the holidays. With culture and traditions unlike most cities this Southwest gem will blow you away during the holiday season. Read our 10 places to go and things to do during this winter season with your loved ones!
What to Do During the Holidays
1. Santa’s Wonderland (Nov 10-Dec 24)
Coming to Cabela’s for the first time this free event is something you don’t want to miss out on with your family. Cabela’s will have a Christmas village offering photos with Santa, holiday activities, and crafts. Make sure you reserve your free visit with Santa using the Bass Pass system. Santa’s Wonderland is also a drop-off station for Toys for Tots. If you and your family bring a new toy to donate on Saturday or Sunday, November 24-25 you will receive a premium photo package valued at $20 for free!
2. Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival Holiday Show (Nov 23-25)
This arts and crafts festival is a great way to start your holiday shopping. Bring friends and family and purchase one of a kind gifts for those you love. Each year this festival brings something different for the busiest shopping season of the year. With local and out of city artists creating all kinds of art from jewelry, to leather goods, to pottery these are great gifts to give.
3. River of Lights (Nov 24-Dec 30)
The sparkle of over 500 radiant light displays, animated sculptures, and a music light show. This is New Mexico’s largest walk-through light show. Held in the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden this is a show you don’t want to miss! Throughout the month there are holiday crafts on specific dates in the Education building, special holiday trains that run through the Garden Railroad exhibit, and a Polar Bear Express. River of Lights is something fun for the young and the old to enjoy during the holiday season.
4. The Nutcracker (Nov 24-Dec 2)
Start your holidays off right with the timeless story of Clara and the Nutcracker prince with New Mexico Ballet Company’s show of The Nutcracker. This is the most lavish production of the Nutcracker you will see in New Mexico with the New Mexico Philharmonic. This year will also showcase New York City Ballet principal dancers. You won’t want to miss this performance during a two-week period.
5. Winterfest (Nov 24)
A great place to shop from local vendors for all your holiday needs! With an ice-skating rink, holiday foods, hot chocolate, eggnog, and more this will put you in the holiday spirit. Ice skating is free with only a $3 skate rental. Christmas decorations will cover the Civic Plaza with Santa Claus making a stop to say hello to the kids. You won’t want to miss out on this one-day event.
6. 30th Annual Winter Spanish Market (Dec 1-2)
With 400-year-old traditions and artwork created by New Mexico artists you can see the Spanish Colonial style in this market. This festival will include traditional Spanish foods, drinks, music, art, and holiday traditions. This is another festival to purchase locally made and handmade crafts for loved ones during the holidays. You can purchase tickets at the door for this event ranging from $6-$10.
7. Twinkle Light Parade (Dec 1)
This parade is one for the entire family to enjoy during the holiday season. With marching bands, hundreds of floats, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus this event will be sure to light up any person’s eyes. The parade will take place through the Historic Nob Hill on Central Ave. You will be able to see elves, horses, and snowmen dancing down the streets. With buses and cars covered in Christmas lights this is a dazzling parade to say the least.
8. Old Town Holiday Stroll (Dec 7)
Dining, shopping, entertainment, and decorations this will have everyone preparing for the holiday season. Shop local in the district and purchase gifts for everyone from local vendors. When purchasing a Holiday Stroll Button, you can receive discounts from participating stores. With this button proceeds will go towards Beds 4 Kidz. Around 6pm there is live entertainment and lighting of the Christmas tree. Not only will this event be for shopping and local vendors, but the museums will be open as well. The NM Museum of Natural History and Sciencealong with the Albuquerque Museumwill be joining the festivities, as well as Explora.
9. Light Among the Ruins (Dec 8)
The ruins of Gisewa Pueblo and San José de los Jemez Mission Church will again be decorated with hundreds of farolitos (paper lanterns). The evening is all about Native American traditions with flute music, dancing, and bonfires. The lights are nestled between ruins in the Jemez Valley canyon. Known as one of the most beautiful prehistoric and historic sites in the Southwest it includes ruins of a 500-year-old Native American village. The church dates back to 1621. Due to the success of the event tickets will be sold every thirty minutes between 5pm and 9pm.
10. 5th Annual Rail Yards Holiday Market (Dec 14-16)
A three-day event this year allows for local support and holiday shopping with a historic experience. With around 200 vendors selling homemade crafts, food, produce, and wellness items will have you going all three days to see everything. The Rail Yards Market and Downtown Growers’ together will bring you the holiday cheer with art, food, and music.
There is so much to do in Albuquerque around the holidays. This is only a list of 10 of the top places to go and things to see and participate in during the winter season. With so much to do and see you can’t go wrong on what you and your family want to do over the next month or so. We hope you enjoy the festivities of Albuquerque and experience the culture we have to offer!