Santa Fe New Mexico at Christmas: Real charm awaits you

The Santa Fe Plaza is lighted at Christmas

The Santa Fe Plaza is lighted at Christmas

Santa Fe in Spanish means “holy faith,” and so it is fitting that Santa Fe is a true Christmas destination. Santa Fe, at Christmas, has all the magic, the lights and the joy that one unfamiliar with New Mexico would look for at a theme park, or commercial Christmas display. But Santa Fe is real. The Christmas celebrations are rooted in faith, history and culture. What you will experience in Santa Fe at Christmas is beautiful, authentic and spiritual. Here are some tips on how to enjoy Christmas in Santa Fe.

The Plaza
The center of a Christmas visit to Santa Fe is the beautifully lighted Plaza in the center of this 400 year old historic town. Surrounding the Plaza are shops with Christmas displays in their windows.  Under the portal of the Palace of the Governors, Native American vendors sell authentic jewelry and pottery each day no matter how cold the weather gets.

As you walk through town notice that most of the rooftops are lined with farolitos (or luminarias).

Anchoring the Plaza is the historic La Fonda, a gathering place and Inn throughout the history of Santa Fe. You can enjoy a meal, listen to music, savor a great Margarita or a enjoy a Christmas stay at La Fonda.

Canyon Road on Christmas Eve
You can take the Farolito Walk up Canyon Road and end the evening by attending Mass at the Cathedral/Basilica of Saint Francis, one block from the Plaza.

Canyon Road Farolitos

Most people head to downtown and to Canyon Road for Christmas Eve. It is best to arrive by 5 or 5:30 p.m. Join the walkers on Canyon Road enjoying the farolitos, warming yourself by the bonfires and singing Christmas carols. Window-shop the galleries and enjoy an evening sans cars on narrow Canyon Road. Christmas eve on Canyon Road is not to be missed.

After enjoying that scene, and probably feeling chilled to the bone, head to a local restaurant for dinner.

Find the Unexpected
When you spend Christmas in Santa Fe look for opportunities. Whether it is a snowfall that brings you the opportunity to walk, ski or play in a winter wonderland or listen to musicians on a street corner. Slow your pace and savor the true meaning of Christmas.

Bonfires light the little mission church

Bonfires light the little mission church

If you are invited to a local celebration, don’t hesitate. One evening I was invited to a small mission church just outside Santa Fe. Nuestra Senora de la Luz is an often photographed and painted historic church that serves people that can’t easily travel to the main church in Pecos, NM. On this special evening, I drove down an icy dead-end road and encountered bonfires lighting up the adobe facade of the church.

As I carefully made my way to the door, musicians, with guitars were getting ready for Las Posadas, a re-enactment of the journey of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter in Bethlehem. I sat in candle and lantern light in the cold adobe church and watched local children portray Mary and Joseph. We gave the traditional responses in Spanish as the re-enactment progressed. The service ended with a home-cooked meal. I found the true spirit of Christmas in this little church.

Don’t turn down invitations when you are in Santa Fe. The warmth of the people and Christmas spirit will lead you to some amazing experiences.

More Information
Farolito Walk on Canyon Road
The Mission Church at Canoncito
Christmas in Santa Fe

Reserve a place to stay in Santa Fe

Purchase the book: Christmas in Santa Fe

Photos Copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography