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Albuquerque Holiday Traditions, Activities and Events

ABQ365 - Luminarias PromoNew Mexico's largest city observes the holiday season with notable style and festivities. Take part in the holiday celebration with coupons, centuries-old traditions and numerous events that offer something for everyone.

Holiday Hotel Packages & Deals 2014 Holiday Coupons Download 2014

New Mexican Holiday Traditions


Old Town Luminarias

Luminarias are a quintessential component of the holiday season in Albuquerque. These simple brown paper bags come alive when they are partially filled with sand and a single votive candle. When the candles are lit and the bags are lined up together, they create a beautiful ambiance welcoming guests into homes and neighborhoods during the holiday season. A fun way to experience a little bit of Albuquerque’s holiday traditions is to create luminarias to line your driveways, sidewalks and maybe even your roof at home.

The annual Old Town Luminaria Tour on December 24th is not to be missed.

Watch our special two minute holiday video about Luminarias, "Life of a Brown Paper Bag."

Native American Dancing and Pueblo Feast Days

Visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on weekends and enjoy Native American dancing and art demonstrations, you can also take part in baking bread and making art. The holidays are a wonderful time to visit the neighboring pueblos, many of them hold feast day celebrations in November and December.  View more information and see the schedule here.

Albuquerque Holiday Activities


Albuquerque has the biggest and best shopping in the entire state with three premier malls and many special shopping areas and specialty stores. Whether you have been to Albuquerque or not, there is something for everyone from traditional Southwestern jewelry and pottery to contemporary designs of paintings, sculpture and more.

Stroll through two of Albuquerque’s historic neighborhoods and shop in unique local shops on two consecutive days.
  • The Nob Hill Shop & Stroll on Thursday, December 1 includes shopping and food specials, family entertainment, and photos with Santa.
  • The Old Town Holiday Stroll on Friday, December 2 features live entertainment, dancers, family activities, Santa Claus and the lighting of the giant Christmas tree at Plaza Don Luis. 
  • The Twinkle Light Parade on Saturday, December 3 kick off your holiday season with 100 twinkling floats, vehicles, schools and animal groups all joining the tradition.


Chiles And we can’t forget the food. Food is so essential to our identity that our state even has a state question, “Red or green?” which refers to the type of chile you prefer on your dish at a restaurant. The delicious flavors of New Mexico’s cuisine make perfect gifts for any time of year, but are especially popular at the holidays to add a little spice to the winter months - products like New Mexican green chile, dried red chile powder, more types of salsa than you can imagine, and our tasty State Cookie, the biscochito.

The festive season brings traditional New Mexican culinary specialties to the forefront with tamales, posole, and biscochitos on every table.

Treat yourself to a special holiday dinner at one of Albuquerque's diverse dining establishments.

Add a taste of Albuquerque to your holiday season with traditional New Mexican recipes.

Outdoor Activities

Celebrate winter with a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway or take a day trip from Albuquerque for skiing, snowboarding, winter hiking and snowshoeing in the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye on the weather conditions at Sandia Peak Ski Area if you're looking for snow sports less than 30 minutes from Albuquerque! 


Special Holiday Events

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1-10 of 55 "Holiday & Seasonal" events

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35.0931246 -106.6793118 Map It

  • Through December 31, 2016
  • Recurrence: Recurring daily
  • Location: Botanic Garden - ABQ BioPark
  • 2601 Central Ave. N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87104
  • Phone: 505-768-2000
  • Admission: Included with admission: $4-$12.50

Take a break from the seasonal hustle and bustle to come down, relax and enjoy the great December weather at the Botanic Garden and Aquarium. Enjoy the sights of the season throughout the month with D...

35.092641 -106.652092 Map It

  • December 6, 2016
  • Location: Slate Street Café
  • 515 Slate Ave. N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87102
  • Phone: 505-243-2210
  • Admission: $20

Join us in the loft as we try a variety of wines to pair with your holiday meals. Enjoy 3 generous tastes as well as an appetizer prepared especially for this tasting.

35.105934 -106.600425 Map It

  • Through December 9, 2016
  • Recurrence: Recurring every week day
  • Location: Keshet Center for the Arts
  • 4121 Cutler Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110
  • Phone: 505-227-8583
  • Admission: $24-$29

In Keshet Dance Company’s 20th Annual Nutcracker on the Rocks, traditional meets contemporary for an exciting and magical holiday event. Opening with Tchaikovsky's Overture and closing with his...


35.0931246 -106.6793118 Map It

Bring your whole family to River of Lights and visit the Education Building to make beautiful gifts inspired by nature! All craft materials will be provided. No admission is required.


35.1958704 -106.6939803 Map It

  • Through December 18, 2016
  • Recurrence: Every Sunday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • Location: The Adobe Theater
  • 9813 Fourth Street NW (2 blocks n. of Alameda), Albuquerque, NM 87114
  • Phone: 505-898-9222
  • Admission: $17 general, $15 senior/student. Group rate (10+) available. Pay What You Will Dec 15th.

Comedic play. French Guiana, 1910. A region where on Christmas Day the temperature has graciously dropped to 104 degrees. Three convicts are employed as roofers by a family, whose roof is in desperate...

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