Santa Fe -- with its adobe architecture, and mix of Anglo, Hispanic, and Native American cultures-- is a strikingly beautiful city to explore. At Christmas-time, traditions from these three cultures come together for a unique festive season.
For starters, there are the "farolitos", the "little lanterns", also called "luminarias": hundreds of glowing lights line walkways and rooftops, each one a small paper bag with a candle set in sand inside. On Christmas Eve the Santa Fe Plaza glows with farolitos.
A good place for kids to see Santa and his elves is "Christmas at the Palace", with Hispanic, Anglo, and Native American Christmas traditions, carols, story-telling, Matachine dancers, and an appearance by Santa Claus. "The Palace" is the Palace of the Governors, an elegant adobe-style building dating back to the 17th century. Christmas at the Palace dates are typically early in the month.
Families can also enjoy an annual Winter Spanish Market (early in December), Native American dances, a special Midnight Mass, and outdoor music throughout December. And the Santa Fe ski area is just 16 miles from the Plaza.