5 charming New Mexico towns that could star in an iconic Christmas movie
Located in places like Connecticut and Salt Lake City, most Hallmark Christmas movies feature winter wonders filled with snowy scenes and fully decorated rooms. While December snowfall isn’t guaranteed throughout Enchantment Land, when you visit one of these charming New Mexico towns this holiday season, you’re always sure to fall in love – not necessarily. of a tall, dark, and handsome stranger – but with experiences you can only have in New Mexico.
What makes New Mexico so unique? The 47th state is a rich mix of Pueblo, Hispanic and Anglo cultures. While the state’s multicultural heritage is visible year round, from the commitment to preserving the Navajo language to a state constitution that provides equal support for Spanish and English, it shines the more during the winter holidays. So, no matter what your cultural background, when you celebrate the New Mexico vacations, you’ll embrace traditions and foods that you typically won’t find elsewhere in the other 49 states (or in any of this year’s Hallmark films).
Christmas in New Mexico
From celebrations to decorations to food, Christmas in New Mexico is unique.
While communities from coast to coast can celebrate Christmas with a show, procession or nativity scene, many New Mexicans commemorate the season with Las Posadas. Literally translated as âthe inns,â Las Posadas commemorates Joseph and Mary’s search for accommodation in Bethlehem. Using a lantern to light their way, a young couple leads a procession as they ask for a place to stay in several âinnsâ. Each request is met with a denial and the journey ends with the celebration of Mass.
When it comes to Christmas decorations, look for luminarias (“party lights”) instead of strings of multi-colored Christmas lights. These little lanterns are made by folding down the sides of a small paper bag, adding a sand ball, and placing a lighted tea candle in the center. They definitely add an element of magical beauty to Christmas in New Mexico! In northern New Mexico, luminarias are often referred to as farolitos (âLittle lanternsâ), so don’t get confused!
Finally, there is the food. While many Americans serve turkey or ham with an assortment of side dishes that vaguely resemble a traditional Thanksgiving meal, New Mexicans often enjoy Christmas tamales, Christmas enchiladas (which contain Ã la both red and green sauce) and steaming bowls of the âalternative to chicken noodle soupâ. âPosole. Instead of gingerbread men or decorated sugar cookies, look for biscochitos, crispy anise-citrus-flavored cookies sprinkled with cinnamon sugar that have earned bragging rights as the state cookie.
And now, back to the best Christmas towns in New Mexico!
As the first snowflakes of the season begin to drift towards Taos, the magic of the holidays begins to fill the air. Kick off the holiday season with Lighting Ledoux and Bonfires on Bent Street. As you stroll through the streets illuminated by the soft glow of farolito lanterns and bonfires, enjoy live music, delicious holiday food and hot drinks.
End your Christmas shopping by supporting the merchants of John Dunn Shops, a pedestrianized shopping district near the historic Taos Plaza, and find unique and handcrafted gifts at Taos Folk, a famous pop-up store offering jewelry, home goods , clothing and other items for sale.
As Christmas Eve approaches, witness the moving way Taos Pueblo embraces the winter season through ceremonial dances. You might be wondering why Christmas, a Christian holiday brought to North America by Europeans, is celebrated by Native Americans. When the Spaniards arrived in this region centuries ago, they worked hard to convert the natives to Catholicism. As a result, today’s Pueblo residents celebrate the holidays by combining their tribal traditions with a drizzle of Spanish culture and a dash of Catholic faith. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center shares this detailed list of pueblo feast days for the 19 pueblos in New Mexico. Remember that when tribe members sing and dance it is a form of prayer, so make sure you understand the proper etiquette before you go.
Stay for even more magic between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day with torchlight parades during which torchlight skiers glide gracefully through the ski resorts of the area against a backdrop of colorful fireworks.
Pro tip: Regardless of when you visit Taos, enjoy this self-guided walking tour that starts at Taos Square and learn more great things to do outdoors or on a long weekend in Taos.
2. Santa Fe
About 90 minutes south of Taos, Santa Fe is another beautiful city in New Mexico that goes all out while on vacation. Get into the Christmas spirit the day after Thanksgiving with the plaza lighting ceremony in historic Santa Fe plaza. Then return to the Plaza in mid-December to participate in Las Posadas.
At the west end of Museum Hill, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden is illuminated with thousands of lights during GLOW. And near the Plaza, the 150-year-old Gothic Loretto Chapel is filled with the sounds of Handel, Vivaldi, and traditional Christmas carols during its Baroque Christmas series.
If Santa Fe were a Hallmark Christmas filming location, surely the highlight would come on the Canyon Road Farolito Walk. While viewing the holiday lights is a common Christmas Eve activity across the country, the Santa Fe version is truly breathtaking. As the sun sets on December 24, a section of Canyon Road and the surrounding streets are closed to traffic as pedestrians flock to admire the soft glow of thousands of farolitos lining the sidewalks, stone walls and flat adobe roofs. before going home or to church to continue their festivities.
Pro tip: Read here for more magical Santa Fe experiences while on vacation.
While it usually doesn’t snow much in Albuquerque, the city’s historic Old Town would surely be the perfect setting for two future lovers to meet at the start of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Dating back to the early 1700s, a quaint gazebo stands in the middle of Old Town Square, the epicenter of holiday festivities in the state’s largest city. Welcome the holiday season with the Old Town Christmas tree lighting. The streets are closed to traffic, giving visitors plenty of space to walk around the old town, admire the lightings, and support the shops and restaurants.
Another fun way to kick off the holiday season in Albuquerque is by attending the Twinkle Light Parade. Held annually on the first Saturday of December, hundreds of tanks, trucks, cars and even bikes roll slowly through the historic hill of Nob illuminated with lights. If you’d rather be the one on the move, hop on an ABQ Ride bus at the convention center for a guided tour of the Old Town and adjacent neighborhoods filled with soft, luminous lanterns.
Albuquerque’s BioPark Botanical Garden is a beautiful destination year-round, but it’s especially magical during the holidays when millions of dazzling lights, animated sculptures, and a musical light show really make it sparkle. Best of all, this brilliant event is a major fundraiser, with proceeds from the River of Lights funding a variety of ABQ BioPark projects to help this gem of a space shine for years to come.
Located in the southeast corner of New Mexico, you are unlikely to see snowfall in Carlsbad while on vacation. But you will experience a romantic vacation outing unlike any other in the Land of Enchantment. By the river, owners spend hours lovingly transforming their backyards, boat docks and islands into a floating Christmas parade known as Christmas on the Pecos. Bundle up with your prettiest woolen hat and matching striped scarf and climb aboard the Rudolph Where holly for an enchanting 40-minute ride past magnificent holiday exhibits that cast shimmering reflections that dance like sugar plum fairies in the calm waters of the Pecos River.
Six boat trips per night depart from the village of Pecos River between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Tickets cost just under $ 20, with discounts available to locals, children, and military service members. Both boats are accessible and you can indicate your accommodation needs when purchasing your tickets.
About 15 minutes from downtown Las Cruces, Mesilla is a small town in New Mexico with a great past. Before the Stars and Stripes, the flags of four countries flew on this important stage of the Butterfield Overland Trail that linked Saint-Louis and San Francisco. Today, the historic Mesilla Plaza in the center of town is surrounded by unique shops and delicious restaurants. And on Christmas Eve, thousands of luminaries fill the historic plaza as Christmas carols float through the desert air and visitors stay warm with hot chocolate.
These are my favorite stores in Mesilla Old Town – all of which are great places to finish your Christmas shopping (ideally before Christmas Eve) with unique and delicious gifts while supporting small businesses. And who knows, maybe you’ll come across a life-changing Hallmark Christmas movie-worthy stranger!
Pro tip: If you love Mesilla, here are seven other charming little towns you’ll want to visit in southern New Mexico.
Whether you are visiting a snow-capped destination in northern New Mexico or a milder climate in the south, a New Mexico vacation is filled with traditions, decorations, and unique foods that are sure to fuel your spirit of holidays until the new year.