Tis the Season: Santa Fe Holiday Traditions


Red and green are Santa Fe’s colors all year round, from the roasted chile in the summer to the holiday decorations come winter. With just the right amount of snow, the Southwest is one of the best places in the country to spend the holidays. Santa Feans in the know look forward to these holiday traditions all year.


Christmas at the Palace, December 8

Every city has its holiday hub, and for Santa Fe, it’s the Palace of the Governors, the historical centerpiece of the town. Christmas at the Palace is a free family event that has New Mexicans drinking hot cider and enjoying live music. This annual festive get-together is like a cozy family Christmas party for the whole town. A blend of American and Spanish traditions, this Santa Fe holiday tradition features an appearance by Santa Claus, candle-lighting rituals, and costumed performers reenacting La Posada, Joseph, and Mary’s journey on Christmas night.  The event takes place on December 8 from 5:30 PM to 8 PM.


The Santa Fe Winter Indian Market, December 16 and 17

The Santa Fe Winter Indian Market is one of the crown jewels in the Santa Fe festival scene. We think it’s pretty much the best place in the world to get your Christmas shopping done. The market typically opens Saturday, December 16, from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday, December 17, from 10 AM to 3 PM. A one-day pass is $10 and a two-day pass is $15. Tickets are available at the door or you can purchase online.


Canyon Road Farolito Walk, December 24

A magical experience that will leave you feeling truly at home in the Land of Enchantment, the Canyon Road Farolito Walk takes you along a candle-lit journey with carolers from bonfire to bonfire, singing and celebrating the Christmas season. A beloved Santa Fe tradition, the Farolito Walk begins at dusk on December 24 on Canyon Road and its neighboring streets. Find out everything you need to know here.


Pueblo Dances, December 24 and 25

The Christmas dances at the Northern New Mexico Pueblos are a spectacle to behold. A tradition blending Native American, Spanish, and Roman Catholic ceremonies, the dances are open to the public, but the Pueblo people are very private about the meaning of their sacred spiritual practices. Christmas Eve starts with the Nambe Buffalo Dance in the evening, with bonfire-lit dances going all the way to two in the morning. See the complete list of locations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Pueblo Dances. 


Of course, you can always just take a drive around town and enjoy the scenery. Candles and bonfires burn through the streets alongside the more conventional electric Christmas lights, lending a soft glow to the city. The holidays in Santa Fe are simply breathtaking.


“Christmas in Santa Fe” by BFS Man is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Farolito Walk in Santa Fe” by Will Keightley is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0