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Fall in Santa Fe

Just like clockwork, the first few days of September bring cooler days and a hint of fall in Santa Fe. It’s the most glorious time of the year–summer starts to recede, great swaths of aspen trees in the mountains begin to turn richly golden, and the weather is perfect for being outdoors and enjoying all the art, adventure, dining, history, and luxury this world-famous city has to offer.

Fall is the most beautiful season of the year for hiking or mountain biking the high elevation trails. Trails in the Santa Fe National Forest are open, rivers and streams are full of trout, and golf courses are uncrowded.

In town, outdoor patios are ideal for sipping a cocktail and watching a slow, spectacular sunset light up the sky. New Mexico’s chile crop is harvested in the fall and it’s hard to miss the spicy scent of roasting chiles in parking lots and at the farmers market as locals buy their annual supplies. The city’s arts scene is as robust as ever with museum and gallery openings and a full schedule of live performances. Some of the region’s most popular special events also take place in the fall. In short, Santa Fe has four distinct seasons, each with its own character and charm–but fall is the best of the best.

Here are just a few of this fall’s events, including several new ones. More will be added and sometimes schedules change, so visit for updates.

Santa Fe Farmers Market

Santa Fe Farmers Market, Saturday and Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings from 3 p.m. till 7 p.m. The Thursday Cook with the Chef program runs through October 13. Fall is the best time to visit the Farmers Market for an abundance of fresh, locally produced fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, and baked goods. There are also wonderful vinegars, honeys, soaps, and cheeses that make great take-home gifts. With the aroma of roasting chile, the sound of live music, and fall crispness in the air, it’s a festive scene and a unique Santa Fe experience.

Sept. 12-15. AIDSImpact Conference. This prestigious conference – held this year for the first time in the U.S. – brings several hundred global AIDS experts to Santa Fe to focus on current research and prevention programs. There will be a special art exhibit at the Community Gallery at the Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau running in conjunction with the conference.
Renaissance Fair V2
Sept. 17-18. Santa Fe Renaissance Fair. Swordfights, costumes, and pirates galore. Fun and food for the entire family at this outdoor fair.

Native Treasures

Sept. 18. Native Treasures Collectors Sale. This sale of highest quality Native American art from private collections benefits the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

Sept. 18. Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon. Stunning mountain scenery and a celebration of Native American distance running tradition will inspire athletes in the race from Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino on Pojoaque Pueblo.

Sept. 18. Tango, an evening of toe-tapping music presented by Santa Fe Pro Musica.

Wine and Chile Festival V2

Sept. 21-25. Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta. This event is a gourmet’s dream come true. There is a big tent tasting event, plus tours, special luncheons and dinners, wine pairings, cooking demonstrations and walking tours at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, seminars, a luncheon by celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman, and this year–even a throwdown.

Sept. 23-25. Santa Fe Concorso. This premier event for sophisticated motorheads, a gathering of exotic and rare cars, is in its second year. Held on a lovely ranch north of Santa Fe, the show is juried by a panel of celebrated judges who are auto and design experts. There will be gourmet cuisine and a number of events and classes throughout the weekend.

Sept. 24. Steve Earle and the Dukes (and Duchesses). The singer releases his new album, a much anticipated follow-up to his Grammy winning Washington Square Serenade.

Oct. 1-2. Harvest Festival. Join costumed villagers in winemaking, stringing chiles, blacksmithing and more on the working Spanish Colonial farm at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum. There is also food, music, games, and traditional crafts, plus spectacular scenery.

Balloon Fiesta

Oct. 1-9. International Balloon Fiesta. Balloons and fans from all over the globe flock to this one-of-a-kind event, held each year in Albuquerque. If you’ve never seen hundreds of colorful hot air balloons, some of them shaped like whimsical characters, rise into the early morning sky, this is your chance. There are races, fun events, mass ascensions, food booths, and evening balloon glows.

Visitors staying in Albuquerque can watch the balloons in the morning and ride the Railrunner Express train for an afternoon in Santa Fe. Santa Fe Pick Up provides free shuttle service from the rail station to historic downtown Santa Fe.

Oct. 4. Saint Francis of Assisi Feast Day at Nambe Pueblo. This traditional celebration will include ceremonial dancing and food. Feast days are important religious events and visitors are welcome, but are asked to be respectful. Nambe Pueblo, 505-455-2036.

K D Lang

Oct. 14. k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang. The legendary singer in Santa Fe.

Oct. 20-23. Santa Fe Film Festival. This popular and provocative film festival has a growing international audience. Four days of screenings at various venues around Santa Fe showcase the best in independent cinema from all over the globe, plus new works. There are also lectures, workshops and awards.

Oct. 25. “From the Top,” the popular NPR radio show that features talented young musicians, tapes its show live at the Lensic, presented by the Santa Fe Concert Association.

Oct. 27-28. Dance Festival. Daniel Ulbricht and Friends from the New York City Ballet bring two nights of dazzling dance. Presented by the Santa Fe Concert Association.
Dia de los Muertos
Oct. 30. Dia de los Muertos. The Museum of International Folk Art celebrates this iconic Mexican holiday with art projects, food, and music for all.

Nov. 1-23. Santa Fe Harvest Festival. This new event will showcase food and fun. There are many events, including discounted dining, chef competitions, a bartenders contest, a restaurant relay race, and a gala Best of the Fest evening in the style of a celebrity chef cookoff.

Nov. 8. Renowned violinist Gil Shaham in a solo concert presented by the Santa Fe Concert Association.

Nov. 12-13. Santa Fe Pro Musica presents works by Beethoven.

Recycle Santa Fe

Nov. 11-13. The Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival. Don’t miss the Trash Fashion and Costume Contest or the juried art show, both proudly featuring imaginative uses of, well, trash.

Nov. 18. Gypsy Fire, Compañia Flamenca Jose Porcel, rocks Santa Fe with live musicians, vocalists, and dance.

santa fe winter

Nov. 24. Ski Santa Fe opens if early season snows have been generous. The ski area is only 30 minutes from downtown and has 7 chairlifts, 73 named trails, childcare and special classes for kids, and lots of fun for skiers and boarders of all ages and abilities. Check the website for updates on opening day.

Nov. 26-27. Winter Indian Market. This is a smaller version of the huge summer event and an opportunity to buy fine Native American art directly from its creators. Only 130 artists are invited to participate, making this event something special.

Nov. 26-37. La Cienega Studio Tour. Artists welcome visitors to their studios and sell glass, jewelry, sculpture, paintings and much more.

Dec. 3-4. The Nutcracker. Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet enlists many local dancers for this popular version of the Christmas classic.


Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum. Opening in October are exhibits of the Saint John’s Bible and Contemplative Landscape, a photographic exploration of the state’s landscape and people. Other temporary exhibits focus on women in the West and African American history in New Mexico. Long-term exhibits reveal the colorful history of the state and its cultures.

Tony Da exhibit

Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. A popular exhibit on Huichol arts and their relationship to Hispanic and Native American cultures has been extended until February 12, 2012. The first comprehensive exhibit of Tony Da’s pottery and paintings continues until the end of the year, and long-term displays bring insight into the history and art of New Mexico’s native peoples.

New Mexico Museum of Art. “Earth Now,” a photography exhibit, and “New Native Photography 2011” close in October. Karen LaMonte’s dramatic sculptured glass kimono, shown with Japanese woodblock prints can be seen until November 6. A display of contemporary artist James Drake’s sculpture and paintings will open October 28 and there is a continuing exhibition of selections from the museum’s vast collection.

Art of Survival exhibit

Museum of International Folk Art. An important new exhibit of elaborate Macedonian clothing and jewelry opens October 1. Current exhibitions include “Folk Art of the Andes” and “The Arts of Survival,” a collection of art produced during the recovery periods after major natural disasters. The permanent Girard collection, “Multiple Visions,” never fails to delight with its enormous array of toys, miniatures, and fascinating objects from around the world.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. “Robert Henri and Ireland” is a presentation of a group of works produced by the artist, known as a leader of the ashcan school of art, after a trip to Ireland. The exhibit opens September 23.


hdr seasons winter

Spending the holidays in Santa Fe is a special joy, full of charm and tradition. There are many cultural celebrations and the city is vibrant with art and music. Days may be sunny or snowy, rooftops are decked with glowing lights, and the spicy smell of local piñon wood crackling in fireplaces scents the air. These are a small sample of events that are coming up. Hotels often offer special holiday packages, so check for updates.

Holiday in Santa FeDec. 3-4. Winter Spanish Market. The Market has expanded this year by adding several new events. First, there will be a Luncheon with the Artists on Wednesday, November 30. This is an opportunity to enjoy lunch with a Spanish Market artist and learn more about them and their work. Tickets are only $60. Then, the market will open at the Santa Fe Convention Center for the first time on Friday night, December 2, from 6:00 to 9:00 with a special party. It’s called WinterNite and will feature food and music along with the artists selling their work. The market runs for two full days as usual over the weekend. Only 100 Hispanic artists are invited to participate. Many of their pieces will have holiday themes and are perfect for home or as gifts. In addition to all these activities, there will be a Holiday Home Tour of spectacular homes decorated for the holidays on Saturday (shuttles will leave from and return to the convention center throughout the day) and a Traditional Christmas Tea held at the Hotel Saint Francis on Sunday. In all, Winter Spanish Market will be just as exciting as the bigger summer market and an event not to be missed.

Christmas at the PalaceDec. 9. Christmas at the Palace. This beloved tradition evokes Christmas from New Mexico’s past. Gather at the 400-year-old Palace of the Governors for cider, carols, and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the sparkling setting of the historic Palace.

Dec. 11. Las Posadas. This traditional Spanish play depicts the search by Mary and Joseph for a room on Christmas Eve. It is held outdoors and begins with a candlelight procession at the Palace of the Governors. Everyone is invited to participate, follow the journey around the Plaza, and boo the ever-popular devils. All are invited for cookies and carols after.

Dec. 12. Feast of Guadalupe at Pojoaque Pueblo. This feast day honors the patroness of the Americas and of Pojoaque Pueblo and includes ceremonial dances. Visitors may be invited to dine with pueblo families, but should not linger as many guests will be fed. As always, feast days are religious and guests should be respectful. 505-455-3549.

Music. There is a wealth of holiday music in Santa Fe. Look for concerts by New Mexico Pro Coro, Musica da Camera, Santa Fe Concert Association, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Santa Fe Symphony, Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble, and more. Check the calendar at for times and locations.

FarolitosFarolitos. These are candles in brown paper bags, humble materials that line sidewalks, rooftops, and fences and transform the city with their glowing amber light. There are more than 1,000 of them lit in the early evening on the Plaza on Christmas Eve. You will also find them at the Cross of the Martyrs and in some neighborhoods. Luminarias are small bonfires that provide a warm respite on a cold Christmas Eve walk.

Dec. 24. Noche Buena. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi commemorates a folk story about the animals in the manger on the night of Christ’s birth. They were dismayed, so the story goes, that no humans had come to see the child, so an old rooster flew to a high place and announced the birth for all to hear.

Indian PueblosNative American Dances. There are many beautiful ceremonial dances at Native American Pueblos around the holidays that are both a renewal of culture and a religious expression. Elaborate, handmade garments are worn and dances follow traditional patterns. There are generally dances around Christmas and New Years Day. Dances happen on set days, but not at set times, so be prepared to wait patiently. It is important to remain respectful and quiet and to stay out of the way during dances. Checking ahead with the individual Pueblo for restrictions is advised.


Jan 27-Feb 5. Winter Fiesta. Following a great debut last year, this event promises to be bigger and more successful in its second year. Buy a pass and get discounts or free admission to all kinds of events, outdoor adventure, dining, happy hour parties, and more. Watch for details in our next newsletter and on


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