Winter Guide

What’s Happenin’ And Hoppin’ Across N.m.

Megan Reneau
13 min read
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You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, we’re telling you why … There’s plenty of activities … state-wide! Being the dedicated readers that you are, you know that within the metro area of N.M. there are literally hundreds of events going on each week, but we wanted to share all the holiday and winter-related events that are happening across the state. From north to south and east to west, we scoured through the towns of our great state to bring you the best and most interesting events. Choose one or all to attend, and be sure to tell them the good ole Alibi sent you!

Winter Guide Nov. 14 To 19

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 and from Nov. 14 to 19 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.

Winter Guide Nov. 18

On Nov. 18, take a trip to the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, N.M. for a delicious holiday event that showcases state-grown agricultural produce. 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. 24 To Dec. 31

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, N.M. is the place where you can indulge your navidad-centered nautical dreams. Commencing on Nov. 24 and continuing through Dec. 31, take a 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. 24

Beginning the weekend of Nov. 24 to 26 and continuing on weekends (Friday through Sunday) through the end of 2017, the rousing and rustic Roswell Christmas Railway offers excursions on the Roswell Christmas Railway 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. 25 To Dec. 30

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. 25 through Dec. 30, beginning at 5pm 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 Dec. 1 To 3

Not just balloons—but holiday spirits—are going to be soaring at the long-running rally at the 37th Annual Red Rock Balloon Rally in Gallup that runs from Friday, Dec. 1 to Sunday, Dec. 3. 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, performances and more.

Winter Guide Dec. 1 To 3

This weekend-long WinterFest and Holiday Light Parade (from Friday, Dec. 1 to Sunday, Dec. 3) 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? 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 Dec. 2

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. 2. The festival includes all the wine you might expect, plus arts and crafts. Amaro, Sheehan, Troubled Minds, Tularosa and St. Clair are just a few of the participating purveyors of the good stuff. Purchase tickets online ( or at the door for $10 to $12, and don’t forget to pack your ID.

Winter Guide Dec. 2

The beautiful, sparkly chaos of the Albuquerque Twinkle Light Parade is upon us again. This year the procession of winter wonder kicks off at 5pm and marches on 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. 2.

Winter Guide Dec. 4

Try to determine the best gingerbread house among the hundreds of literal works of art that are entered at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s annual Gingerbread House Contest. The time and talent put into each little gingerbread world is evidenced as you walk the displays that encompass a multitude of styles and even subjects. You too, can judge for yourself who did it best by popping in to the center starting on Dec. 4 when the entries go up for display. Be warned, these might put your gingerbread shack to shame.

Winter Guide Dec. 8

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. 8, for the day-long, Old Fashioned Christmas celebration: a tree lighting, light parade, 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 Dec. 9 To 10

Snowboarding is kind of the seasonal pastime of the entire Southwest. If you haven’t learned to do it yet, you’ll have a great chance the weekend of Dec. 9 and 10, when Ski Santa Fe hosts their Learn to Ride Weekend. Qualified instructors teach you the basics from 10am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday. You can get the lift, lesson and rentals for $180, or lift and lesson only for $150. Ages 10 and older.

Winter Guide Dec. 16 To 17

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, you can head to La Fonda Hotel on the Santa Fe Plaza to peruse goods made by Native artists and craftspeople at the Winter Indian Market. It’s $10 for an individual day pass, $15 for a two-day pass. Buy your tickets in advance at

Winter Guide Dec. 20 To 21

The winter solstice is kind of the OG winter holiday. It’s the shortest day of the year—and also marks the coming of spring and warmer days ahead. Head out to the Winter Solstice Celebration at the Aztec Ruins National Monument, where you’ll be able to witness the sunset aligning with the Aztec West great house—a clever design that the Ancestral Puebloans used to mark the passage of the year. Dec 20 and 21, 4:30-5:15pm. Free.

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 53rd Annual ABQ RIDE Luminaria Tour. There are six different buses leaving between 5:30-7:20pm 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 Nov. 25 To March 24

Head up to Red River Ski Area any Saturday between Nov. 25, through March 24, or for an extra special showing on Christmas Eve to catch a glimpse of the 45-year-old tradition of fire and poles at the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks! Catch the skiing jib contest at 5pm and the oh-so-glorious fireworks starting at 7pm.

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 are expected to register no later than Dec. 6, but we’re sure if you contact them after that, they’d be cool with it.

Winter Guide Jan. 13 To 15

Red River is bumpin’ this year with an array of fun, family-friendly events like the Red River Winter Carnival happening Jan. 13 to Jan. 15. Join in on skijoring, snow carving, racing and snowmobiling. For those who want to enjoy the slopes from afar, y’all can enjoy live music and a mustache and beard competition with cash prizes from the Red River Miner.

Winter Guide Jan. 23

Enjoy an exclusive and rarely allowed glimpse into the cultural and religious celebrations of the San Ildefonso Pueblo at the Saint Ildefonso Feast Day. Beginning at dawn, see performances from animal dancers, a fascinating Mass and most importantly, eat delicious food!

Winter Guide Jan. 25 To 27

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 Texas Red’s Red River Songwriters’ Festival in Red River starting on Jan. 25, lasting till the 27. Enjoy performances from Darrell Scott, Brennen Leigh, Noel McKay, Walt Wilkins, Susan Gibson, Kelley McKwee, Drew Kennedy, Brandy Zdan, Josh Grider, Ben Danaher, Mike Addington and more!

Winter Guide Jan. 26 To 28

Texans love skiing, and New Mexico ski areas love Texas tourists. Angel Fire is celebrating this symbiotic relationship with a weekend concentrating on all things Texas at the Big Ol’ Texas Weekend at Angel Fire in Taos. Enjoy country music concerts, food and whiskey samplings, a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament and the world-famous “Big Texan Steak Challenge.”

Winter Guide Jan. 31 To Feb. 4

The 32nd Annual Taos Winter Wine Festival is a multi-day celebration 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. 2

The 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 Taos. 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. 10

This year’s Chocolate Fantasia theme is “Wild West Days.” More than 30 shops, galleries and Downtown merchants in Silver City are decorating around the theme, and competing for the best-tasting chocolate treats. Tasting tickets 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.

Winter Guide Feb. 10 To 11

Smaller than the famous International Balloon Fiesta, this free Valentine’s Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally weekend event at Balloon Fiesta Park nonetheless attracts scores of high-flying balloonists. Be on the lookout for special shapes and various races, starting at 7am each morning. Food trucks are on-site, pumping out hot coffee and breakfast burritos.

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