New Mexico offers plenty of reasons to celebrate, ranging from a chile fest to an alien bash to a duck race. The most unique events, however, involve the culture here, such as Santa Fe's Indian and Spanish markets, Native American dances at the pueblos, and the many fiestas held on town plazas throughout the state. Of course, the region's most picturesque event, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, fills the sky with unforgettable beauty.
For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
New Year's Day. Transfer of canes to new officials and various dances at most pueblos. Turtle Dance at Taos Pueblo (no photography allowed). Call tel. 575/758-1028 or go to www.taospueblo.com for more information. January 1.
Winter Wine Festival (tel. 575/776-2291; www.skitaos.org). A variety of wine offerings and food tastings prepared by local chefs take place in the Taos Ski Valley. Mid-January.
Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon (tel. 800/748-2142). Hundreds of athletes come from all over the West to bicycle, run, cross-country ski, and snowshoe up and down this mountain. Mid-February.
Just Desserts Eat and Ski (tel. 505/754-2374; www.enchantedforestxc.com). Cross-country skiers ski from point to point on the Enchanted Forest course near Red River, tasting decadent desserts supplied by area restaurants. Late February.
National Fiery Foods/Barbecue Show (tel. 505/873-8680; www.fiery-foods.com). Here's your chance to taste the hottest of the hot and plenty of milder flavors, too. Some 10,000 people show up to taste sauces, salsas, candies, and more, and to see cooking demonstrations at the Sandia Resort and Convention Center. Early March.
Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival (tel. 505/292-7457; www.riograndefestivals.com). A juried show featuring 200 artists and craftspeople from around the country takes place at the State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque. Second week of March.
Chimayo Pilgrimage (tel. 505/351-4889). Thousands of pilgrims trek on foot to the Santuario de Chimayo, a small church north of Santa Fe that's believed to aid in miracles. Good Friday.
Rockhound Roundup, Deming (tel. 575/543-8915 or 575/267-4399; www.dgms.bravehost.com). Gems, jewelry, tools, and crafted items are displayed and sold at the Southwest New Mexico State Fairgrounds. Second weekend in March.
Easter Weekend Celebration. Celebrations include Masses, parades, corn dances, and other dances, such as the bow and arrow dance at Nambe. Call tel. 505/843-7270 for information.
American Indian Week, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque. A celebration of Native American traditions and culture. For dates and information, contact tel. 505/843-7270 or www.indianpueblo.org.
Gathering of Nations Powwow, University Arena, Albuquerque (tel. 505/836-2810; www.gatheringofnations.com). Dance competitions, arts-and-crafts exhibitions, and Miss Indian World contest. Late April.
Cinco de Mayo Fiestas, statewide. The restoration of the Mexican republic (from French occupation during 1863-67) is celebrated in, among other places, Las Cruces at Old Mesilla Plaza. First weekend in May.
Taste of Santa Fe (tel. 505/982-6366, ext. 112). Sample Santa Fe's best chefs' recipes, including appetizers, entrees, and desserts at Santa Fe's La Fonda Hotel. Held in May or June.
Taos Spring Arts Celebration. Contemporary visual, performing, and literary arts are highlighted during a month of gallery openings, studio tours, performances by visiting theatrical and dance troupes, live musical events, traditional ethnic entertainment, literary readings, and more. Events are held at venues throughout Taos and Taos County. For dates and ticket info contact the Taos County Chamber of Commerce, 108 F Kit Carson Rd., Taos, NM 87571 (tel. 800/732-TAOS or 575/751-8800; www.taoschamber.com). All month.
Aztec Fiesta Days, Aztec (tel. 505/334-9551; www.aztecchamber.com). Celebrate the arrival of summer with three parades, games, food, arts and crafts, and a carnival. First full weekend in June.
Rodeo de Santa Fe (tel. 505/471-4300; www.rodeodesantafe.org). This 4-day event features a Western parade, a rodeo dance, and five rodeo performances. It attracts hundreds of cowboys and cowgirls from all over the Southwest who compete for sizable purses in such events as Brahma bull and bronco riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing, trick riding, and clown and animal acts.
The rodeo grounds are at 3237 Rodeo Rd., off Cerrillos Road, 5 1/2 miles south of the plaza. Performances are in the evening Wednesday to Saturday, and on Saturday afternoon. It takes place sometime around the third weekend in June.
Rodeo de Taos, County Fairgrounds, Taos. A fun event featuring local and regional participants. For information, call tel. 575/758-5700 or, in mid- to late June, call tel. 575/758-3974. Third or fourth weekend in June.
Taos Solar Music Festival, Kit Carson Municipal Park, Taos (tel. 575/758-9191; www.solarmusicfest.com). Sit out on the grass, under the sun, and listen to major players at this event celebrating the summer solstice. A tribute to solar energy, the event has a stage powered by a solar generator and educational displays within a "Solar Village." Late June.
New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair (tel. 505/884-9043; www.nmartsandcraftsfair.org). A tradition for 47 years, this juried show held at the State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque offers works from more than 200 New Mexico artisans, accompanied by nonstop entertainment for the whole family. This can be a good place to find Hispanic arts and crafts. Last full weekend in June.
Apache Maidens' Puberty Rites, Mescalero. This 4-day ceremony concludes with a rodeo and the dance of the mountain spirits. Call tel. 575/464-4494 for more information. July 1 to 4.
Fourth of July celebrations (including fireworks displays) are held all over New Mexico. Call the chambers of commerce in specific towns and cities for information. One of the best is the Fiestas de Las Vegas, at the plaza, which includes a parade, concerts, and food booths. Contact tel. 800/832-5947 or 505/425-8631; www.lvsmchamber.org.
Pancake Breakfast on the Plaza, Santa Fe. Rub elbows with Santa Fe residents at this locals' event on the plaza. For information contact tel. 505/982-2002 or www.santafe.org. July 4.
UFO Festival, Roswell (tel. 575/625-8607; www.roswellufofestival.com). This festival celebrates all manner of extraterrestrial oddity that has sprung to life since the alleged 1947 alien crash in Roswell. More than 7,000 visitors fill the town to attend lectures and participate in a costume contest and parade. Early July.
Santa Fe International Folk Art Market (tel. 505/988-1234; www.folkartmarket.org). This has fast become one of the city's most popular summer events. Artisans from all over the world come to display and sell works ranging from basketry to textiles outside the International Museum of Folk Art. Concerts, dance performances, and children's programs charge the air, while the scent of delectable food wafts about. Early July.
Santa Fe Opera (tel. 505/986-5955; www.santafeopera.org). The world-class Santa Fe Opera season offers contemporary and traditional opera in a stunning indoor-outdoor theater in the hills outside the city. July through August.
Taos Pueblo Powwow (tel. 575/758-1028; www.taospueblopowwow.com). An intertribal competition in traditional and contemporary dances. Second weekend in July.
Eight Northern Pueblos Artist and Craftsman Show. More than 600 Native American artists exhibit their work at the eight northern pueblos. Traditional dances and food booths; location varies. Contact tel. 505/747-1593 or www.eightnorthern.org for location and exact dates. Third weekend in July.
Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana. The celebration begins with a Friday-night Mass at one of the three Taos-area parishes, where the fiesta queen is crowned. During the weekend there are candlelight processions, special Masses, music, dancing, parades, crafts, and food booths. Taos Plaza hosts many events and most are free. For information, contact the Taos Fiesta Council, P.O. Box 3300, Taos, NM 87571 (tel. 800/732-8267; www.fiestasdetaos.com). Third weekend in July.
Spanish Market. More than 300 Hispanic artists from New Mexico and southern Colorado exhibit and sell their work in this lively community event. Artists are featured in special demonstrations, while an entertaining mix of traditional Hispanic music, dance, foods, and pageantry creates the ambience of a village celebration. Artwork for sale includes santos (painted and carved saints), textiles, tinwork, furniture, straw appliqué, and metalwork.
The markets are found at Santa Fe Plaza in Santa Fe. For information, contact the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, P.O. Box 5378, Santa Fe, NM 87502 (tel. 505/982-2226; www.spanishmarket.org). Last full weekend in July.
Bat Flight Breakfast, Carlsbad Caverns National Park. An early morning buffet breakfast is served while participants watch the bats return to the cave. Contact tel. 575/785-2232 for details and exact date or www.nps.gov/cave. Mid- to late-July or early August.
Old Lincoln Days and Billy the Kid Pageant, Lincoln. The main attraction is a reenactment of Billy the Kid's escape from the Lincoln jail. There are also a fiddling contest and living-history demonstrations (such as weaving and blacksmithing). Contact tel. 575/653-4372 or www.nmmonuments.org for more information. Last weekend in July or first weekend in August.
Intertribal Indian Ceremonial, near Gallup Contact (tel. 800/242-4282 or http://gallup-ceremonial.org). Thirty tribes from the United States and Mexico participate in rodeos, parades, dances, athletic competitions, and an arts and crafts show at Red Rock Park, east of Gallup. Late July or early to mid-August.
Pueblo Independence Day, Jemez Pueblo. Participants from many of the Pueblos convene to celebrate the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Food, art booths, dances, and live music fill the sunny plaza. Contact tel. 575/834-7235 or go to www.jemezpueblo.org. Mid-August.
Zuni Arts & Cultural Expo. This 3-day event features arts-and-crafts sales and traditional food and dances. Contact tel. 575/782-7238 or www.experiencezuni.com for more information. Second week in August.
Chama Days. A rodeo, parade, and arts-and-crafts fair highlight this mountain-town event. Second weekend of August.
The Indian Market. This is the largest all-Native American market in the country. About 1,000 artisans display their baskets and blankets, jewelry, pottery, woodcarvings, rugs, sand paintings, and sculptures at rows of booths around Santa Fe Plaza, surrounding streets, and de Vargas Mall. Sales are brisk. Costumed tribal dancing and crafts demonstrations are scheduled in the afternoon.
The market is free, but hotels are booked months in advance. For information, contact the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, P.O. Box 969, Santa Fe, NM 87504-0969 (tel. 505/983-5220; www.swaia.org). Third weekend in August.
Music from Angel Fire. World-class musicians gather in Angel Fire to perform classical and chamber music. For information and schedules, call tel. 575/377-3233 or go to www.musicfromangelfire.org. Mid-August to the first week in September.
Great American Duck Race, Deming (tel. 888/345-1125; www.demingduckrace.com). Devised in a bar in 1979, this event has grown to include a parade, a tortilla toss, an outhouse race, ballooning, dances, and, of course, the duck race. It takes place on the courthouse lawn ("Duck Downs"). Fourth weekend in August.
Artist Studio Tours take place all over northern New Mexico in the fall.
The All American Futurity, Ruidoso Downs, Ruidoso. With a purse of $2 million, this is the world's richest quarter-horse race. Contact tel. 575/378-4431 or www.ruidosodownsracing.com. Labor Day.
Chile Festival, Hatch (tel. 575/267-5050; www.hatchchilefest.com). New Mexicans celebrate their favorite fiery food item with a festival in the "Chile Capital of the World." Labor Day weekend.
New Mexico Wine Festival (tel. 505/867-3311; www.newmexicowinefestival.com). New Mexico wines are showcased at this annual event in Bernalillo, near Albuquerque, which features wine tastings, an art show, and live entertainment. Labor Day weekend.
Las Fiestas de Santa Fe. An exuberant combination of spirit, history, and general merrymaking, Las Fiestas is the oldest community celebration in the United States. The first fiesta was celebrated in 1712, 20 years after the resettlement of New Mexico by Spanish conquistadors in 1692. The celebration includes Masses, parades, mariachi concerts, dances, food, and arts, as well as local entertainment on the plaza. Zozobra, "Old Man Gloom," a 40-foot-tall effigy made of wood, canvas, and paper, is burned at dusk on Thursday to revitalize the community. Zozobra kicks off Las Fiestas. For information, call tel. 505/988-7575 or go to www.santafe.org. Weekend following Labor Day.
Enchanted Circle Century Bike Tour. About 500 cyclists turn out to ride 100 miles of scenic mountain roads, starting and ending in Red River. All levels of riders are welcome, though not everyone completes this test of endurance. Call tel. 505/754-2366 or go to www.enchantedforestxc.com for details. Weekend following Labor Day.
New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo. This is one of America's top state fairs; it features parimutuel horse racing, a nationally acclaimed rodeo, entertainment by top country artists, Native American and Spanish villages, the requisite midway, livestock shows, and arts and crafts.
The fair and rodeo, which last 17 days, are held at the State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque. Advance tickets can be ordered by calling tel. 505/265-1791 or visiting www.exponm.com. Early September.
Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta. This lively celebration boasts 5 days of wine and food events, including seminars, guest chef demonstrations and luncheons, tours, a grand tasting and reserve tasting, an auction, and a golf tournament. It takes place at many venues in downtown Santa Fe with the big event on the last Saturday. Tickets go on sale in early July and sell out quickly. For tickets and information, call tel. 505/438-8060 or visit www.santafewineandchile.org. Last Wednesday through Sunday in September.
Stone Lake Fiesta, Jicarilla Reservation, 19 miles south of Dulce. This Apache festival features a rodeo, ceremonial dances, and a foot race. For more information call tel. 575/759-3242, ext. 275 or 277, or go to www.jicarillaonline.com. September 15.
Mexican Independence Day. A parade and dances take place in Las Cruces at Old Mesilla Plaza (tel. 575/524-3262; www.vivamesilla.org) and Carlsbad at San Jose Plaza (tel. 800/221-1224 or 575/887-6516; www.carlsbadchamber.com). Weekend closest to September 16.
Taos Trade Fair, La Hacienda de los Martinez, Lower Ranchitos Road, Taos (tel. 575/758-0505). This 2-day affair reenacts Spanish colonial life of the mid-1820s and features Hispanic and Native American music, weaving and crafts demonstrations, traditional foods, dancing, and visits by mountain men. Last full weekend in September.
San Geronimo Vespers Sundown Dance and Trade Fair, Taos Pueblo. This event features a Mass and procession; traditional corn, buffalo, and Comanche dances; an arts-and-crafts fair; foot races; and pole climbs by clowns. Contact tel. 575/758-0505 or go to www.taospueblo.com for details. Last weekend in September.
Taos Fall Arts Festival. Highlights include arts-and-crafts exhibitions and competitions, studio tours, gallery openings, lectures, concerts, dances, and stage plays. Simultaneous events include the Old Taos Trade Fair, the Wool Festival, and San Geronimo Day at Taos Pueblo.
The festival is held throughout Taos and Taos County. Events, schedules, and tickets (where required) can be obtained from the Taos County Chamber of Commerce, 108 F. Kit Carson Rd., Taos, NM 87571 (tel. 800/732-8267 or 575/751-8800; www.taoschamber.com). Mid-September (or the third weekend) to the first week in October.
The Whole Enchilada Fiesta, Las Cruces (tel. 575/524-1968; www.enchiladafiesta.com). The world's biggest enchilada (sometimes over 7 ft. wide) is created and eaten. Late September or early October.
Shiprock Navajo Fair, Shiprock (tel. 800/448-1240). The oldest and most traditional Navajo fair, it features a rodeo, dancing and singing, a parade, and arts-and-crafts exhibits. Early October.
Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival, Albuquerque (tel. 505/292-7457; www.riograndefestivals.com). This event features artists and craftspeople from around the country. First and second weekends in October.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (tel. 800/733-9918; www.balloonfiesta.com). The world's largest balloon rally, this 9-day festival brings together more than 700 colorful balloons and includes races and contests. There are mass ascensions at sunrise, "balloon glows" in the evening, and balloon rides for those desiring a little lift. Various special events are staged all week.
Balloons lift off at Balloon Fiesta Park (at I-25 and Alameda NE) on Albuquerque's northern city limits. Second week in October.
Taos Mountain Balloon Rally (tel. 800/732-8267). The Albuquerque fiesta's "little brother" offers mass dawn ascensions, tethered balloon rides for the public, and a Saturday parade of balloon baskets (in pickup trucks) from Kit Carson Park around the plaza. Last weekend of October.
Weems Artfest (tel. 505/293-6133; www.weemsgallery.com). Approximately 260 artisans, who work in a variety of media, come from throughout the world to attend this 3-day fair, held at the State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque. It's one of the top 100 arts-and-crafts fairs in the country. Early November.
Festival of the Cranes. People come from all over the world to attend this bird-watching event just an hour and a half south of Albuquerque at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, near Socorro. For details call tel. 505/835-1828 or go to www.friendsofthebosque.org. Weekend before Thanksgiving.
Yuletide in Taos. This holiday event emphasizes northern New Mexican traditions, cultures, and arts, with carols, festive classical music, Hispanic and Native American songs and dances, historic walking tours, art exhibitions, dance performances, candlelight dinners, and more.
Events are staged by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce, 108 F. Kit Carson Rd., Taos, NM 87571 (tel. 800/732-8267; www.taoschamber.com). From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.
Christmas on the Pecos, Carlsbad (tel. 800/221-1224 or 505/877-6516; www.christmasonthepecos.com). Pontoon-boat rides take place each evening, past a fascinating display of Christmas lights on riverside homes and businesses. Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve (except Christmas Eve).
Winter Spanish Market, Santa Fe Convention Center, Santa Fe. Approximately 150 artists show their wares at this little sister to July's major event. See the Spanish Market in July for more information. For details call tel. 505/982-2226 or go to www.spanishcolonial.org. First full weekend in December.
Christmas in Madrid Open House. Even if you never get out of your car, it's worth going to see the spectacular lights display in this village between Albuquerque and Santa Fe on the Turquoise Trail. You'll also find entertainment, refreshments in shops, and Santa Claus. For additional information, contact tel. 505/471-1054or go to www.visitmadrid.com. First two weekends in December.
Canyon Road Farolito Walk, Santa Fe. Locals and visitors bundle up and stroll Canyon Road, where streets and rooftops are lined with farolitos (candle lamps). Musicians play and carolers sing around luminarias (little fires). Though it's not responsible for the event, the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau (tel. 505/955-6200; www.santafe.org) can help direct you there; or ask your hotel concierge. Christmas Eve at dusk.
Christmas Native American Celebrations. Many of the pueblos have winter dances, including the Matachine and buffalo. For more information, contact the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center at tel. 866/855-7902 or 505/843-7270; or go online to www.indianpueblo.org. December 24 and 25.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta, Tortugas, near Las Cruces. This pilgrimage to Tortugas Mountain and torchlight descent is followed by a Mass and traditional Native American and Hispanic dances. Call tel. 575/526-8171 for more information. December 10 to 12.
Torchlight Procession, Taos Ski Valley. Bold skiers carve down a steep run named Snakedance in the dark while carrying golden fire. For information, call tel. 800/992-7669 or 575/776-2291, or visit www.skitaos.org. December 31.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.