5 charming New Mexico towns that could star in an iconic Christmas movie

Located in places like Connecticut and Salt Lake City, most Hallmark Christmas movies feature winter wonders filled with snowy scenes and fully decorated rooms. While December snowfall isn’t guaranteed throughout Enchantment Land, when you visit one of these charming New Mexico towns this holiday season, you’re always sure to fall in love – not necessarily. of a tall, dark, and handsome stranger – but with experiences you can only have in New Mexico.

What makes New Mexico so unique? The 47th state is a rich mix of Pueblo, Hispanic and Anglo cultures. While the state’s multicultural heritage is visible year round, from a commitment to preserve the Navajo language to a state constitution that offers equal support for Spanish and English, it shines the most during the winter holidays. So, regardless of your cultural background, when you celebrate the New Mexico vacations, you will embrace traditions and foods that you typically won’t find elsewhere in the other 49 states (or any of the other 49 states). this year’s Hallmark films).

Christmas in New Mexico

From celebrations to decorations to food, Christmas in New Mexico is unique.

While communities from coast to coast can celebrate Christmas with a show, procession or nativity scene, many New Mexicans commemorate the season with Las Posadas. Literally translated as “the inns,” Las Posadas commemorates Joseph and Mary’s search for accommodation in Bethlehem. Using a lantern to light their way, a young couple leads a procession as they ask for a place to stay in several “inns”. Each request is met with a denial and the journey ends with the celebration of Mass.

When it comes to Christmas decorations, look for luminarias (“party lights”) instead of strings of multi-colored Christmas lights. These little lanterns are made by folding down the sides of a small paper bag, adding a sand ball, and placing a lighted tea candle in the center. They definitely add an element of magical beauty to Christmas in New Mexico! In northern New Mexico, luminarias are often referred to as farolitos (“Little lanterns”), so don’t get confused!

Finally, there is the food. While many Americans serve turkey or ham with an assortment of side dishes that vaguely resemble a traditional Thanksgiving meal, New Mexicans often appreciate Christmas Tamales, Christmas enchiladas (which contain both red and green sauce) and steaming bowls of “the alternative to chicken noodle soup” pose. Instead of gingerbread men or decorated sugar cookies, look for biscochitos, crispy cookies flavored with anise and citrus fruits and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar that have earned bragging rights as state cookie.

And now, back to the best Christmas towns in New Mexico!

JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

1. Taos

As the first snowflakes of the season begin to drift towards Taos, the magic of the holidays begins to fill the air. Kick off the holiday season with Ledoux lighting and Bonfires on Bent Street. As you stroll through the streets illuminated by the soft glow of farolito lanterns and bonfires, enjoy live music, delicious holiday food and hot drinks.

Finish your Christmas shopping by supporting the merchants of John Dunn Stores, a pedestrian shopping district near the historic center Taos Square, and find unique and handcrafted gifts on Taos Folk, a famous pop-up store with jewelry, household items, clothing and other merchandise for sale.

As Christmas Eve approaches, witness how moving Taos Pueblo embraces the winter season through ceremonial dances. You might be wondering why Christmas, a Christian holiday brought to North America by Europeans, is celebrated by Native Americans. When the Spaniards arrived in this region centuries ago, they worked hard to convert the natives to Catholicism. As a result, today’s Pueblo residents celebrate the holidays by combining their tribal traditions with a drizzle of Spanish culture and a dash of Catholic faith. The Pueblo Indian Cultural Center shares this detailed list of pueblo feast days for the 19 pueblos of New Mexico. Remember that when the tribe members sing and dance it is a form of prayer, so make sure you understand the appropriate label before you leave.

Stay for even more magic between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day with torchlight parades during which torchlight skiers glide gracefully through the ski resorts of the area against a backdrop of colorful fireworks.

Pro tip: No matter when you visit Taos, make the most of it self-guided walking tour which starts at Taos Plaza and discover other great things to do outdoors or during a long weekend in Taos.

Canyon Road in Santa Fe at Christmas
Photo credit: TRUE New Mexico

2. Santa Fe

About 90 minutes south of Taos, Santa Fe is another beautiful city in New Mexico that goes all out while on vacation. Get into the Christmas spirit the day after Thanksgiving with the historic Plaza lighting ceremony Santa Fé Square. Then return to the Plaza in mid-December to participate in Las Posadas.

At the western limit of Museum hill, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden is illuminated with thousands of lights for GLOW. And near the Plaza, the 150-year-old Gothic Lorette Chapel is filled with the sounds of Handel, Vivaldi and traditional Christmas carols during his Baroque christmas series.

If Santa Fe were a Hallmark Christmas filming location, surely the highlight would come on the Canyon Road Farolito Walk. While viewing the holiday lights is a common Christmas Eve activity across the country, the Santa Fe version is truly breathtaking. As the sun sets on December 24, a section of Canyons Route and nearby streets are closed to traffic as pedestrians flock to admire the soft glow of thousands of farolitos lining the sidewalks, stone walls and flat adobe roofs before returning home or to church to continue their journey. festivities.

Pro tip: Read here for more magical Santa Fe experiences while on vacation.

Christmas in Albuquerque
Photo credit: Kristy Graybill

3. Albuquerque

While it usually doesn’t snow much in Albuquerque, the city’s historic district Old City would surely be the perfect setting for two future lovers to meet at the start of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Dating back to the early 1700s, a quaint gazebo stands in the middle of Old Town Square, the epicenter of holiday festivities in the state’s largest city. Welcome the holiday season with the Old Town Christmas tree lighting. The streets are closed to traffic, giving visitors plenty of space to walk around the old town, admire the lightings, and support the shops and restaurants.

Another fun way to kick off the holiday season in Albuquerque is by attending the Sparkling light parade. Held every year on the first Saturday of December, hundreds of tanks, trucks, cars and even bikes roll slowly Historic Nob Hill illuminates with lights. If you’d rather be the one on the move, hop on a ABQ bus at the convention center for a guided tour of the old town and the adjacent districts filled with soft and luminous lanterns.

Albuquerque’s BioPark Botanical Garden is a beautiful destination year-round, but it’s especially magical during the holidays when millions of dazzling lights, animated sculptures, and a musical light show really make it sparkle. Better yet, this brilliant event is a major fundraiser, with the proceeds of the River of Lights finance a variety of ABQ Biopark plans to make this space gem shine for years to come.

4. Carlsbad

Located in the southeast corner of New Mexico, you are unlikely to see snowfall in Carlsbad while on vacation. But you will experience a romantic vacation outing unlike any other in the Land of Enchantment. By the river, owners spend hours lovingly transforming their backyards, docks and islands into a floating Christmas parade known as the Christmas on the Pecos. Bundle up with your prettiest woolen hat and matching striped scarf and climb aboard the Rudolph Where holly for an enchanting 40-minute ride past magnificent holiday exhibits that cast shimmering reflections that dance like sugar plum fairies in the calm waters of the Pecos River.

Six boat trips per night depart from the village of Pecos River between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Tickets cost just under $ 20, with discounts available to locals, children, and military service members. Both boats are accessible and you can indicate your accommodation needs when purchasing your tickets.

Luminarias organized in the shape of a solar symbol Zia
Photo credit: TRUE New Mexico

5. Mesilla

About 15 minutes from downtown Las Cruces, Mesilla is a small town in New Mexico with a great past. Before the Stars and Stripes, the flags of four countries flew on this important stage of the Butterfield Overland Trail that linked Saint-Louis and San Francisco. Today, the historic Mesilla Plaza in the center of town is surrounded by unique shops and delicious restaurants. And on Christmas Eve, thousands of luminaries fill the historic plaza as Christmas carols float through the desert air and visitors stay warm with hot chocolate.

These are my favorites shops in the old town of Mesilla – so many perfect places to finish your Christmas shopping (ideally before Christmas Eve) with unique and delicious gifts while supporting small businesses. And who knows, maybe you’ll come across a life-changing Hallmark Christmas movie-worthy stranger!

Pro tip: If you love Mesilla, here are seven other charming little towns you’ll want to visit in southern New Mexico.

Whether you are visiting a snow-capped destination in northern New Mexico or a milder climate in the south, a New Mexico vacation is filled with traditions, decorations, and unique foods that are sure to fuel your spirit of holidays until the new year.

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