Winter Guide 2018

13 min read
sandhill cranes
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New Mexico (we can only hope) is about to be blanketed in a cool, white coating of winter snow. We like our sunshine a lot here in the Land of Enchantment, but winter is a fine time as well. New Mexico boasts some excellent skiing locations and a host of top-notch cold-weather events. So don’t just bundle up and hide in front of your space heater this season. Head out to the four corners of our state in search of culture, food, sports and other entertaining activities. To assist you, here’s a list of some of Alibi’s favorite annual winter activities to engage in.

Winter Guide Nov. 14

sandhill cranes
Down south of Albuquerque, the mighty Rio Grande inches and twists its way through a beautiful wetlands landscape famous as a winter nesting ground for water birds of all sorts. Sandhill cranes, in particular, are some of the area’s most beautiful winged visitors. From Nov. 14 to 17 the Festival of the Cranes at the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, N.M., celebrates the beautiful birds’ wintry residence in our state with more than 140 events, including workshops, speakers, food events and plenty of bird-watching.

Winter Guide Nov. 16

Desperate for some new-to-you ski equipment? Gather up what you’ve got and trek on up to the Santa Fe Ski Swap, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17. Purchase a shiny new 2018/19 Ski Santa Fe season pass or score some fresh gear. It all goes down at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center from 6 to 9pm on Friday and 9am to 6pm on Saturday. Admission is $15 adults and $10 for 18 and under on opening night. Entry is free on Saturday.

Winter Guide Nov. 17

Starting Nov. 17, take a trip to the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces for a delicious holiday event that showcases state-grown agricultural produce. The Fifth Annul Homegrown: A New Mexico Food Show & Gift Market features more than 60 vendors selling and offering samples of products that include award-winning salsas, wine, pies, cookies, sauces, honey, jerky, candy, cheese, tortillas and more. New Mexico-made crafts are also part of the event! Admission is $5 per vehicle and the first 100 vehicles each day receive a free burlap shopping bag.

Winter Guide Nov. 23

Contrary to popular opinion, there are navigable rivers in New Mexico! Notably, the holiday season is the best time to engage in floaty adventures on our big, broad body of water to the south, the Pecos. Carlsbad is the place where you can indulge your navidad-centered nautical dreams. Commencing on Nov. 23 and continuing through Dec. 31, take a 40-minute trip hosted by the Christmas on the Pecos Boat Tours that includes a riverboat ride presenting panoramic views of illuminated backyards, islands of twinkling lights and shimmering city sights.

Winter Guide

Beginning the weekend of Nov. 23 to 25 and continuing on weekends (Friday through Sunday) through Dec, 30, the rousing and rustic Roswell Christmas Railway offers excursions from St. Nicholas station in Roswell through a laser-light tunnel to a brilliant Nativity scene, the Polar Zone, Santa’s Square and the World of Lights! Passengers can count on an amazing holiday experience filled with holiday-themed magic, food and shopping in one of our state’s most interesting southern towns.

Winter Guide Nov. 24

During the holiday season, there’s a River of Lights in Burque! Presented by our city government, the New Mexico BioPark Society and the Albuquerque BioPark, this yearly feast for the senses happens at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden from Nov. 24 through Dec. 30, beginning at 6pm nightly. Though the event is closed on Dec. 24 and 25, it’s still a joyous way to get in touch with holiday spirits and family visits. Hot food and beverages are available on-site, and the BioPark’s Polar Bear Express train offers participants a stunning ride to a river where everything’s bright and holiday-shiny.

Winter Guide

Head up to Red River Ski Area any Saturday between Nov. 24 and March 23 to catch a glimpse of the 45-year-old tradition of fire and poles at the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks! Skiers weave down Red River’s “Face” with burning torches, painting a glowing trail down the mountain. The oh-so-glorious fireworks start at 7pm.

Winter Guide Nov. 30

Not just balloons—but holiday spirits—are going to be soaring at the long-running rally at the 38th Annual Red Rock Balloon Rally in Gallup that runs from Friday, Nov. 30 to Sunday, Dec. 2. The rally—set in Gallup’s beautiful geological landscape of sandstone at Red Rock State Park—brings more than 200 balloons every year. The event is totally free to attend, and features not just the expected mass ascensions and a beloved “Balloominaria” display, but also fun runs, brunches and more.

Winter Guide Dec. 1

In our unprofessional estimate, somewhere around 75 percent of adults spend the holiday season (let’s approximate Thanksgiving through Jan. 2) with a blood alcohol content that levels out around the legal limit. Maintain your buzz by heading to the Carlsbad Winter Wine Festival (with a designated driver, duh) on Saturday, Dec. 1. The festival includes all the wine you might expect, plus arts and crafts. Purchase tickets online ( or at the door for $10 to $12 (10 tastings are included, along with a souvenir wine glass), and don’t forget to pack your ID.

Winter Guide

The beautiful, sparkly chaos of the Albuquerque Twinkle Light Parade is upon us again. This year the procession of winter wonder kicks off at 5:15pm and marches West on Central Ave. and into the night, closing out around 9:30pm. We’ll never forget sitting on a curbside somewhere between Girard and Washington Streets (the parade’s route) and watching people go nuts when Combo from “Breaking Bad” cruised by in an RV, throwing candy to the crowd. Make some special memories of your own by heading to Nob Hill on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Winter Guide

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society presents is annual 2018 Winter Spanish Market on Dec. 1 and 2 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The authentic, 400-year-old tradition of Spanish Colonial artwork, made by New Mexico artists, is on display at this year’s event. Add to your collection of woodcarving, tinwork, retablos, straw appliqué, weaving, potter, etc.—or pick up a gift for a loved one. (Christmas is just around the corner, you know.)

Winter Guide

Last year the Highlands Wrecker towing service took first place in the annual Electric Light Parade in Las Vegas. It’s gonna be hard to top that this year. But the fine folks of Las Vegas are up to the challenge. Head to the historic Las Vegas Plaza to check out this year’s bright and shiny contenders on Saturday, Dec. 1 starting at 6pm.

Winter Guide Dec. 7

This weekend-long WinterFest and Holiday Light Parade (from Friday, Dec. 7 to Sunday, Dec. 9) is a literal holiday buffet set in the snowy mountain town of Los Alamos. What’s on your holiday bucket list? To see Santa Claus? They’ve got him! Tree lighting? It’s going down in Los Alamos. Christmas concerts? Maybe a parade? Or a craft show? Check, check and check. If you want to amplify your festiveness this year, head no further than Los Alamos for this city-wide celebration.

Winter Guide

Christmastime should feel like a black-and-white movie and a cozy sweater made of nostalgia. If you agree, you might want to head down to Truth or Consequences on Dec. 7, for the day-long, Old Fashioned Christmas celebration: a tree lighting, light parade, hay rides, photos with Santa, hot cocoa and caroling. There’s also line dancing at the Spaceport Visitor Center, because New Mexico has its own weird traditions.

Winter Guide

The Museum of New Mexico Foundation hosts Christmas at the Palace on Friday, Dec. 7, from 5:30 to 8pm. Santa Fe’s New Mexico History Museum, located at the Palace of the Governors, offers an evening of hot cider, cookies, live music, plus a chance to operate an antique printing press and other old-fashioned activities. Naturally, there will be a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. This is a free, family event, but donations of nonperishable food are welcome. At the same time, you can witness the annual candlelit procession of Las Posadas, which will travel around the Santa Fe Plaza and conclude at the Palace of the Governors Courtyard. This historic Hispanic tradition re-enacts Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to give birth to the Baby Jesus.

Winter Guide

The popular annual lighting of the tree in Plaza Don Luis is the highlight of the annual Old Town Holiday Stroll in Albuquerque’s historic Old Town District on Dec. 7 from 5 to 9pm. This event traditionally kicks off the annual Christmas shopping season. Purchase a Holiday Stroll button and enjoy discounts at participating Old Town merchants. Proceeds from the buttons go to benefit Beds 4 Kidz.

Winter Guide Dec. 15

Instead of sending each other Amazon wish lists this year, maybe you and your family could commit to buying their holiday gifts from local makers. For one weekend, starting Dec. 15, you can head to La Fonda Hotel on the Santa Fe Plaza to peruse goods made by more than 150 Native artists and craftspeople at the Winter Indian Market. There will be live music and dance to accompany your shopping spree. It’s $10 for an individual day pass, $15 for a two-day pass. Buy your tickets in advance at

Winter Guide Dec. 24

This Christmas Eve, go out to see the holiday lights without worrying about driving: Hop on the ABQ RIDE bus and enjoy a 45-minute tour through the neighborhoods that get decked out for the season for the 54th Annual ABQ RIDE Luminaria Tour. There are six different buses leaving between 5:30 and 7:25pm from the Downtown Convention Center. Tickets are $3.50 for adults and $2.20 for children and seniors. Buy tickets and see the route at

Winter Guide Dec. 31

2019 fireworks
Say adios to 2018 in the City Different at the Fourth Annual New Year’s Eve on the Santa Fe Plaza. It takes place on Dec. 31, of course, with some spillover into Jan. 1. Festivities begin at 9pm with local bands, including Fun Adixx and New Mexico legend Alex Maryol. There are stationary heaters and a cozy piñon bonfire to keep you warm. The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe provides hot chocolate and biscochitos to revelers. Santa Fe’s new Mayor Alan Webber leads the countdown to midnight. Instead of a ball drop, we get a rising Zia symbol!

Winter Guide Jan. 1

Ring in the new year in the coolest way possible—jump into Lake Maloya near Raton for the Polar Bear Plunge, Jan. 1! If that doesn’t sound too chill to you, visitors can also enjoy other winteresque activities like snow bowling, ice-skating, sledding or “robbing a snow bank.” Participants of the jump who want to secure their commemorative T-shirt are expected to register no later than Dec. 6 ($20 per participant, free for spectators).

Winter Guide Jan. 24

Anyone who says festivals are just a summer thing are clearly not well-versed in New Mexican festivals. Luckily for us, the sun shines all year long! Enjoy a warm winter day at the 8th annual Red River Songwriters’ Festival at Texas Red’s Steakhouse in Red River starting on Jan. 24 and lasting till the 26. Get your acoustic on and enjoy performances by award-winning singer-songwriters from across the country.

Winter Guide Jan. 31

The 32nd Annual Taos Winter Wine Festival is a multi-day celebration (Jan. 31 through Feb. 3) of wine and food and includes many local Taos restaurants and over 40 national wineries. Things culminate in Saturday night’s Grand Tasting. Before that, though, you can participate in wine seminars, wine dinners and an on-mountain apres ski party.

Winter Guide Feb. 1

The 40th Annual World Championship Shovel Races are more complicated than the title suggests. Not only is shovel racing a thing, but the World Championships take place in New Mexico’s very own Angel Fire Resort. Maybe it is simple: Park your bum on a snow shovel and slide down the mountain. What began as a jokey competition among lift operators in the ’70s, however, has evolved into an elaborate party filled with costumes, radar guns and crazy cardboard contraptions.

Winter Guide Feb. 9

This year’s Chocolate Fantasia (Feb. 9) promises to satisfy your midwinter sweet tooth. More than 30 shops, galleries and Downtown merchants in Silver City are decorating around their windows, and competing for the best-tasting chocolate treats. Tasting tickets ($25) get you samples of 20 different chocolate confections. Vote for your favorites and help raise money for local youth outreach programs for the Mimbres Region Arts Council.

2019 fireworks

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