Insider Guide: Navigating the Santa Fe Indian Market

Santa Fe Indian Market vendors and crowds on the Plaza.

If you’ve recently moved to Santa Fe or are considering buying a home here, you might already know that the Santa Fe Indian Market takes place next weekend on August 19 and 20.


You might also know that the market is one of the biggest art fairs in the world, attracting 150,000 people each year from all over the world. With more than 700 booths, the Indian Market spreads across 14 city blocks in and around the Plaza.


But you don’t really know how big this market is until your feet tell you. Based on our own feet, here are the most important tips we can offer to first-timers.


Make Your Day Count

The market is everything it’s said to be, but it gets exhausting quickly. So our first piece of advice is to make your day count. Here’s the schedule.


Must do: Make sure to grab yourself a Navajo Taco or some Fry Bread. The smell alone should draw you in. Likewise, ensure you set aside time to watch a dance on the main stage. It doesn’t get any more authentic unless you are actually at the Pueblos.


Decide When to Arrive

Our next piece of advice is to decide on one of two strategies for when to arrive.


Strategy 1: Get There Early

Arriving early means you have a better chance at finding a good parking space, and it means reaching vendors before they sell out. Remember that the market opens at 7 AM on day one and 8 AM on day two, and it’s not unusual for the most popular vendors to be sold out and packing up by 10.


If this is your strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind:


  • Get there very, very early. People will already be out and about as early as 5 in the morning, so if you’re coming to buy, the earlier the better.
  • Be prepared to spend a little extra. You’ll find some of the best folk art in the world and it’s worth the expense, but it’s a little more than many visitors expect to pay.
  • Bring sunscreen, a hat, and lots of water. A late August noon in Santa Fe is no time to leave yourself exposed to the elements. Be sure to keep hydrated.
  • Get breakfast on the way in. Waiting for a table anywhere near Washington Avenue can add an hour or two to your itinerary.


Alternately, there’s always . . .


Buyers tend to arrive early and spectators tend to come in the afternoon. Keep your eyes peeled for the blue ribbon winners—these are handed out before the displays go public.


Strategy 2: Show Up Late

This is the plan if you’re looking to cross everyone off your holiday shopping list in one fell swoop. By the afternoon, the most popular vendors will have packed up and gone home. But those who did not sell out their inventory would rather have the extra space in their car than a box full of unsold art, so you can usually get some great deals.


Know Before You Go

Here’s a handy reference for the Santa Fe Indian Market schedule and event FAQs.


Santa Fe Indian Market Schedule The Santa Fe Indian Market is a weekend art market preceded by a week-long Native American festival. Get the details on all the events here.


Santa Fe Indian Market History Learn about the types of art you can buy, who the artists are, and the kinds of contemporary and traditional Native foods you can sample.


This is a big event, so please be patient. Rarely can you find an event that combines both modern and traditional artists in one space. Enjoy!