New Mexico is a fascinating place to visit with kids, thanks to its unique mix of Anglo, Hispanic and Native American cultures. And Christmastime is an especially fine time to visit, for a couple of reasons.
First: given the large Hispanic population in New Mexico, Christmas is celebrated in a major way. And secondly, a beautiful Christmas tradition in New Mexico is the appearance of luminarias, also called farolitos: these "little lights" are small candles set in sand inside paper bags. (See a photo of holiday farolitos in Santa Fe.)
And here's a bonus for those visiting Santa Fe in December: families who like to ski can head to Ski Santa Fe, located just 30 minutes from downtown.
Christmas Events in Santa Fe:
Winter Spanish Market
This winter market typically takes place in early December, and showcases Spanish colonial arts such as carvings, paintings, and silver work. Christmas tree decorations are for sale. (A Winter Indian Market is also held, but typically occurs before December, in late November.)
Christmas at the Palace
A celebration of Hispanic, Native American and Anglo traditions takes place in the Palace of the Governors, which is the oldest seat of government in the U.S. This free event has music, entertainment, hot cider, and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus.
A traditional play tells the story of Mary and Joseph searching for a room in Bethlehem. The play is staged outdoors, and starts with a candlelight procession at the Palace of the Governors. Carols and cookies complete the evening.
Noche Buena: December 24
A midnight Mass is held on Christmas Eve at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Kids will like that this is a "Rooster's Mass", commemorating a folk story about the animals in the manger where Christ was born.
Also on Christmas Eve: the Santa Fe Plaza is decorated with a thousand farolitos and families can sing carols, sip cider, and join a walk to the nearby Cross of the Martyrs which also has farolitos.
Continue to holiday farolitos, Native American dances, and more about Christmas and the holiday season in Santa Fe.