Winter Guide 2019

Get Out And Embrace The Cold

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Winter is always a waiting game in New Mexico. Famous for our nearly 300 days of sun per year, The Land of Enchantment is sometimes hesitant to make with the white stuff come November/December. Despite our state’s high desert reputation for sunshine and warm weather, New Mexico boasts some excellent skiing locations and a host of top-notch cold weather events. We here at Weekly Alibi recommend that you use the coming winter season (officially starting Dec. 21) as an opportunity to head out to the four corners of our state in search of culture, food, sports and other entertaining activities. To assist you, here is a list of some of Alibi’s favorite annual winter events to engage in.

Winter Guide Wednesday, Nov. 20

Down south of Albuquerque, the mighty Rio Grande inches and twists its way through a beautiful wetlands landscape that’s 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. 20 to 23, the 32nd annual Festival of the Cranes at 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, speaking engagements, food events and plenty of bird-watching.

Winter Guide Saturday, Nov. 23

On Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9am to 5pm, take a trip to the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces for a delicious holiday event that showcases agricultural produce grown in our state. The Sixth Annual HomeGrown: A New Mexico Food Show & Gift Market features more than 70 vendors selling (and offering samples of) products that include award-winning salsas, wine, pies, cookies, sauces, honey, beef jerky, candy, cheese, tortillas and more. New Mexico-made crafts are also part of the event! New demonstrations this year include red chile making by La Reina Hatch Chile Products and frybread making by Jemez Historic Site. Admission is $5 per vehicle and the first 100 vehicles to arrive each day receive a free burlap shopping bag.

Winter Guide Wednesday, Nov. 27

It’s Opening Day at Red River Ski Area. Start off the 2019/2020 ski season on Wednesday, Nov. 27 (weather permitting) with special pricing on lift tickets. For more info on this year’s season, go to

Winter Guide Thursday, Nov. 28

Ski Santa Fe will have its (tentative) Opening Day of the 2019/2020 ski season on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28 (weather permitting). Think snow and get over to for updates, info and ticket prices.

Winter Guide Nov. 28

“Ski The Change” at Taos Ski Valley on the Opening Day of the 2019/2020 ski and snowboard season. Hit the slopes starting Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28 (assuming Mother Nature cooperates, of course). Get all the up-to-the-minute details at

Winter Guide Nov. 28

In what can only be described as a fever dream experienced in my post-turkey coma, Red River Ski and Summer Area will host their annual Frozen Turkey Race—an event wherein participants willingly choose to slide down a mountain while mounted on a frozen turkey—on Thursday, Nov. 28, a day also known as “Thanksgiving.” Sure, the pure, unadulterated thrill of sliding down the face of a mountain on a frozen bird (which sounds like something out of Final Fantasy) should be enough to drive you to attend, but did you know that you can also win prizes? Well, now you do. This is a free event that starts at noon, giving you time to experience thrills and the fear of dying in the most awkward-to-explain way to loved ones before dinner festivities take place. For more information, visit

Winter Guide Friday, Nov. 29

Beginning the weekend of Friday, Nov. 29 and continuing on weekends (Friday through Sunday) through Dec. 28, 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. 29

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. 29 and continuing through Dec. 28, take a 40-minute evening 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 Nov. 29

Lights, Christmas, action! Can’t get enough Christmassy lights? Head up to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden for GLOW: A Winter Lights Festival, beginning Nov. 29 and running every weekend through Dec. 31, with additional dates the week of Christmas. Tickets range from free to $12 and advance purchase is recommended. Enjoy the twinkle of thousands of lights through large-scale installations from 5 to 8pm nightly with last entry given at 7:30pm. Dress warmly as temps can be blustery in Santa Fe. The event also features nightly live music, artists, hot beverages and, of course, Santa! Have a new lighted walk experience this year in The City Different.

Winter Guide Nov. 29

The New Mexico Artisan Market promises a wide selection of locally curated, handcrafted artisan goods for yoru Christmas shopping convenience. Friday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 1, the Market sets up shop at Hotel Albuquerque. Jewelers, sculptors, painters potters, textile makers and assorted food companies are among the participants. Tickets ($15 for general admission all the way up to $125 for early admission, a swag bag, discount coupons, an Artisan Cocktail Party on Friday and a five-course Farm-to-Table plated dinner with wine pairings at Hotel Chaco) are available now at

Winter Guide Saturday, Nov. 30

christmas railway
During the holiday season, there is a River of Lights right here in Burque! Presented by our city, the Albuquerque BioPark and the New Mexico BioPark Society, this yearly feast for the senses happens at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden from Saturday, Nov. 30 through Dec. 30, at 6pm nightly. The event is closed Dec. 24-25 but it’s still a joyous way to get in touch with holiday spirits and family visits. Hot food and beverages are available onsite 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 Nov. 30

Head up to Red River Ski Area any Saturday between Nov. 30 and Jan. 11 to catch a glimpse of the 46-year-old tradition of fire and poles at the Torchlight Parade & 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

Squeeze in some shopping at the seventh annual Pueblo Market at Isleta Resort & Casino and discover a world of unique gifts and experiences. Peruse over 200 artists showcasing traditional arts and wares to find something for that special, hard-to-please someone on your gift list. While you shop, enjoy traditional cultural food and music all day long and even catch performances by local Pueblo dancers. This all-ages event is free and open to the public. Bring the whole family for some old-fashioned fun from 9am to 6pm.

Winter Guide Friday, Dec. 6

Balloons and holiday spirits will be soaring at the 39th Annual Red Rock Balloon Rally in Gallup that runs from Friday, Dec. 6 to Sunday, Dec. 8. The rally—set in Gallup’s beautiful geological landscape of sandstone at Red Rock State Park—brings more than 150 balloons every year. The event is totally free to attend and features not just the expected mass ascensions and beloved “Balloominaria” display but also fun runs, brunches and more. Admission is free (with a $5 parking fee at Red Rock Park).

Winter Guide Dec. 6

This weekend-long WinterFest and Holiday Light Parade (from Friday, Dec. 6 to Sunday, Dec. 8) 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 the festivity this year, head no further than Los Alamos for this citywide celebration.

Winter Guide Dec. 6

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 neighborhood on Friday, Dec. 6 from 5 to 9pm. KOB-4 weatherman Steve Stucker hosts. 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 Saturday, Dec. 7

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. 7. The festival includes all the wine you might expect, plus arts and crafts. Purchase tickets online ( for $10 or $12 at the door (10 tastings are included, along with a souvenir wine glass), and don’t forget to pack your ID.

Winter Guide Dec. 7

The beautiful, sparkly chaos of the City of Albuquerque’s Twinkle Light Parade is upon us again. This year the procession of winter wonder kicks off at 5:15pm and marches west on Central Avenue into the night, closing out around 9:30pm. We’ll never forget sitting on a curbside somewhere between Girard Boulevard and Washington Street (the parade route) 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. 7.

Winter Guide Dec. 7

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society presents its 2019 Winter Spanish Market on Dec. 7 and 8 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, etc.—or pick up a gift for a loved one. (Christmas is just around the corner, you know.)

Winter Guide Sunday, Dec. 8

Blessed with snow-free bike paths like the Paseo del Bosque Trail, denizens of Albuquerque can enjoy winter bike riding that many in the country only dream of. Iluminarte! is a celebration of this two-wheeled privilege mixed with traditional luminaria displays to create an illuminated bike parade that starts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, parades its way to the ABQ BioPark River of Lights and then heads back to the National Hispanic Cultural Center for hot chocolate and biscochitos. The best part? You and your bike can be part of it on Sunday, Dec. 8! It’s free to participate, but you do have to register if you want to ride by going to

Winter Guide Friday, Dec. 13

Christmastime should feel like a black-and-white movie and a cozy sweater made of nostalgia. If you agree, you may want to head down to Truth or Consequences on Friday, Dec. 13 for the day-long Old Fashioned Christmas celebration featuring a tree lighting, parade, hay rides, photos with Santa, hot cocoa and caroling. This year’s event takes place the night before Elephant Butte’s beautiful Luminaria Beachwalk—so feel free to stick around for the weekend.

Winter Guide Dec. 13

The Museum of New Mexico Foundation hosts Christmas at the Palace on Friday, Dec. 13, 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 and 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.

Winter Guide Dec. 13

Angel Fire Resort boasts more than 80 trails, 3 terrain parks and a tubing hill. Fingers crossed that all those are packed with powder on Opening Day, which starts on Dec. 13 and runs through March 22. Head to to secure your passes.

Winter Guide Saturday, Dec. 14

Last year there was a surprise marriage proposal involving the Las Vegas Fire Department at 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. This year’s theme is “A Magical Christmas: Film & Television.” Is it too much to hope for a Red Dawn-themed Christmas float? Head to the historic Las Vegas Plaza to check out this year’s bright and shiny contenders on Saturday, Dec. 14 starting at 6pm.

Winter Guide Dec. 14

Instead of sending each other Amazon wish lists this year, maybe you and your family could commit to buying holiday gifts from local makers. For one weekend, starting on Dec. 14, 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 Friday, Dec. 20

Photo by Clarke Condé
Find yourself in late-1800s territorial New Mexico for The Nutcracker in the Land of Enchantment on Dec. 20 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This original production brings Festival Ballet Albuquerque to the stage with New Mexican features like Western-style, Victorian-era costumes, Southwestern snakes and sheep, a lively fandango and dancers stepping on goatheads while en pointe (okay, maybe not that). Now in its seventh year at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, this family friendly classic is a wonderful way to introduce young people to the world of ballet. Tickets start at $12 and can be had at

Winter Guide Saturday, Dec. 21

Sandia Peak Ski Area is the closest skiing destination to Albuquerque. It’s also further south than a lot of the others, so you never know when it’s gonna get enough snow to ski on. This year’s Opening Day is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 21. It could be earlier, could be later. Keep your eyes glued to for the latest info.

Winter Guide Sunday, Dec. 22

Christmas in New Mexico: The Musical, The Concert, The Dance at Sandia Resort & Casino Grand Ballroom is a multimedia event that tells the story of Christmas through the eyes of two young people who encounter magical snowmen on their quest to find meaning during the holiday season in The Land of Enchantment. The production features the heart and soul of New Mexican culture as personified by the stars of the show, the Al Hurricane Familia, featuring Al Hurricane Jr. and a host of other regional singing and acting talents including Ernie Montoya of Cuarenta y Cinco, BernCo Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada and Anthony “Animal” Garcia. Dancing during the family friendly performance is encouraged and following the drama, a Christmas Dance is being held in the Grand Ballroom. Tickets range in price from $40 to $60 and the evening’s program begins at 7pm.

Winter Guide Tuesday, Dec. 24

Beginning at dusk on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, the historic Farolito Walk in Santa Fe offers winter tidings with the beauty and tradition of one of the state’s most enchanting cities. Commencing at Canyon Road and Paseo de Peralta, the walk winds past restaurants, galleries and charming homes around town as luminarias line the streets. While the walk itself is free and parking is take-what-you-can-get, check out the many galleries keeping their doors open for the occasion by purchasing last-minute gifts, sitting by a bonfire and sipping some hot cider. Make a reservation at a restaurant along the path for a toastier, tastier experience. Leave strollers at home and dress in your warmest clothes to join in the bustle of the crowd or come down after 8pm to avoid the rush. This is a Christmassy experience you won’t want to miss and will likely never forget.

Winter Guide Tuesday, Dec. 31

Say adios to 2019 in The City Different at the Fifth 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 with local bands at 9pm. 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 Mayor Alan Webber leads the countdown to midnight. Instead of a ball drop, we get a rising Zia symbol plus fireworks! Admission is free.

Winter Guide Dec. 31

Brighten up the winter with some pizzazz at the New Year’s Eve Fireworks & Torchlight Parade at Angel Fire Resort. Usher in the new year with a bang at the base of the mountain. The all-ages fun starts with music and snowcat rides at 4:30pm and continues with fireworks and a torchlight parade at 6pm. (Snowcat riders must appear before 4:30pm to fill out waiver forms.) For celebrants over 21, the party keeps going with music and drinks at nearby Village Haus starting at 7pm. Welcome 2020 the right way—with dancing feet and explosions in the sky!

Winter Guide Dec. 31

“Bar crawl” is a term that so accurately and succinctly describes an event that you truly have no quandaries about what you’ll be doing come night’s end. ABQ Trolley Co.’s New Year’s Eve Bar Crawl takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 31, a night that closes out the decade, bringing us into The Roaring ’20s Part II: Electric Boogaloo. Your $55 ticket guarantees you a night of drunken debauchery and excitement indicative of how this decade played out in its final moments. The crawl begins at Tractor Brewing Company in Nob Hill, taking you to five other bars throughout the evening and ending at a mystery location that will set you up to celebrate a hopefully better decade in peace. The event starts at 6pm, so get ready to celebrate the only way you know how—while wildly inebriated and surrounded by strangers who rapidly become important (and really loud) friends. Tickets are available now at

Winter Guide Dec. 31

Saddle up the horses and fill the wagon with vittles and plenty of hot coffee when you head down south for a three-hour drive in the dead of winter to the Denim and Diamonds New Year’s Eve Party. That’s happening at the super snowy and sublime Inn of the Mountain Gods near Ruidoso, N.M. on Dec. 31, commencing at 6pm and not ending until the wee, first hours of the year 2020 The year-ending, bling-studded soiree—patrons are encouraged to dress in their best denim and diamond attire—features a sumptuous gourmet dinner (smoked salmon and oysters, chicken piccata and herb and mesquite pork tenderloin are on the menu), a midnight champagne toast and performances by a group of country Western tribute artists, including Derek Spence appearing as George Strait, John Lily as Hank Williams Sr. and Kelly Vohn as one of country’s Golden Age sweethearts. At $125 per person and with the mountains, the snow, the twang and the sparkle of the new year: Who could ask for more?!

Winter Guide Wednesday, Jan. 1

polar bear
Ring in the new year in the coolest way possible—jump into Lake Maloya near Raton for the Polar Bear Plunge on Jan. 1! If that doesn’t sound too chill to you, visitors can also enjoy other wintery activities like snow bowling, ice skating, sledding or “robbing a snow bank.” Events run from 1pm to 3pm. Participants of the jump who want to secure their commemorative T-shirt are expected to register no later than Dec. 7 ($20 per participant, free for spectators).

Winter Guide Thursday, Jan. 23

Anyone who says festivals are just a summer thing are clearly not well versed in New Mexican festivals. Luckily for us, the sun shines here all year long! Enjoy a warm winter day at the 9th annual Red River Songwriters’ Festival at Texas Red’s Steakhouse in Red River starting on Jan. 23 and lasting til Jan. 25. Get your acoustic on and enjoy performances by award-winning singer-songwriters from across the country. The 2020 lineup includes Kevin Russell, Sean McConnell, Emily Gimble, Kelley Mickwee, Mike Addington and Josh Grider (among others). Snag one-day or full festival tickets in advance ($47.50 to $155) at

Winter Guide Thursday, Jan. 30

The 32nd Annual Taos Winter Wine Festival is a multi-day celebration (Jan. 30 through Feb. 2) of wine and food that 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, chef luncheons and even an on-mountain apres ski party. Tickets for the Taste of Taos/Reserve Tasting and the Grand Tasting ($95) are available at

Winter Guide Friday, Jan. 31

The inaugural Winter Carnival at Angel Fire Resort features carnival games, music, rides and—we’re both excited and saddened to report—the final International Shovel Racing Championships. Yes, after 41 years, this is the very last time in New Mexico that you can park your bum on a snow shovel and slide down the mountain. What began as a jokey competition among lift operators in the ’70s evolved into an elaborate party filled with costumes, radar guns and crazy cardboard contraptions. Feel free to participate (practice starts on Friday) or just watch (races are on Saturday). Events run Jan. 31 through Feb. 2

Winter Guide Saturday, Feb. 8

This year’s Chocolate Fantasia on Saturday, Feb. 8 promises to satisfy your midwinter sweet tooth. More than 30 shops, galleries and Downtown merchants in Silver City are decorating 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.


Photo by Clarke Condé


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