The other day on a Canyon Road Quickie tour, we stepped back outside after warming up and discussing the art at MEI Gallery. As soon as the cold New Mexico air hit my face, I gasped.
“Do you smell that?” I asked, taking in a deep breath.
“Yes – it’s so nice! What is it?" replied one of my guests.
It was piñon, which, when burned, releases the loveliest fragrance – earthy, almost spicy, but also delicate – into the air.
The scent of piñon curling up from chimneys all over Santa Fe creates an old-world atmosphere that constantly reminds me how magical wintertime in Santa Fe is. Throughout the holiday season, farolitos (or luminarias, depending on where you’re from) line adobe buildings and wonky sidewalks. Fires blaze in hotels, galleries, bars, and bookstores all over town. Many mornings, Santa Feans wake up to pristine snowfall that gives way to sun and blue skies by noon.
If you’re in Santa Fe for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, you’re in luck. It’s fun, festive, charming, and totally romantic. Here are just a few suggestions for how to spend the holidays in Santa Fe.
New Mexico Museum of Art Open House (December 20)
The New Mexico Museum of Art’s annual holiday open house takes place this year on Sunday, December 20. A family-oriented schedule of events begins at 1 pm with the marionette play “A Party for Papa Gus.” Papa Gus is Gustave Baumann, one of several artists who came to New Mexico in the early 20th century. A skilled printmaker who is perhaps best known for his vibrant woodcuts, Baumann was also a master marionette maker. A selection of his artwork and marionettes are on view at the museum in the exhibition Gustave Baumann and New Mexico.
To see a recreation of Baumann’s printmaking studio, head over to the Palace of the Governers and ask to visit the Palace Print Shop. They’ll direct you to this small, local press that you might miss otherwise!
Canyon Road Farolito Walk (Christmas Eve)
The crown jewel of all holiday events in Santa Fe! Every Christmas Eve, the galleries on Canyon Road get dressed up for the Farolito Walk. Most pitch in to help line the sidewalks with farolitos – paper bags illuminated by candles – and many stay open late, welcoming guests with crackling fires, hot apple cider, and biscochitos. A personal favorite is Bindlestick Studio, where artist Jeffremy Schweitzer will be debuting his new book, The Eccentric Gentleman, this Christmas Eve.
Get Cozy at Collected Works
Local bookstore Collected Works is one of the coziest spots in town, with a cute in-store cafe and a big fireplace flanked by a pair of couches. It's a delightful spot to sip a cup of coffee and do some reading. With a ton of local titles and a great southwest history section, it's an excellent stop for souvenir and gift shopping, too.
Curator’s Talk at La Posada (Fridays at 4:30)
Every Friday evening at La Posada de Santa Fe, curator Sara Eyestone delivers a talk about the history of the hotel and its art collection. Arrive a bit early to select a glass of wine and some hors d’oeuvres, compliments of the Chef. Get comfy in an armchair facing the huge fireplace in the lobby, and let Sara answer all of your questions about this beautiful historic hotel. After the talk, grab a drink from the gorgeous bar and explore the sumptuously decorated sitting rooms that feature art from the hotel’s collection. When you find a romantic little niche of your own, sit for a bit and cuddle up with your honey.
New Years Eve on the Plaza
Join locals and tourists alike for the first ever New Year’s Eve celebration on the Santa Fe Plaza. The event kicks off at 9:30 pm with bonfires, hot chocolate, food trucks, and performances by local musicians Alex Maryol and Lumbre del Sol. Just before midnight, Santa Fe's mayor Javier Gonzales will take the stage and lead a "count-up" to 2016. Rumor has it that a special surprise will kick off the new year.
Soak Your Bones at Ten Thousand Waves
Here’s another one for those of you looking for romance. Book a private spa suite at Ten Thousand Waves. The Ichiban suite, complete with its own sauna and outdoor soaking tubs, is pretty incredible – especially at dusk and with a gentle snowfall. The entire place is gorgeous, though, so a soak in the communal Grand Bath would do you just fine if a private tub isn’t in the cards.
Tour Sant Fe’s Art Galleries
And now for some shameless self promotion! Both our Canyon Road Quickie and A Matter of Taste tours feature a bite-size selection of Santa Fe galleries, and both end at local culinary landmarks. After exploring Canyon Road, you can warm up over a piping hot tea latte at The Teahouse. Choose A Matter of Taste, and we’ll conclude with a spicy chocolate elixir at Kakawa Chocolate House. If you have something else in mind, why not customize your tour?
Be sure to check out the Santa Fe Tour Guides group, too, for a wide selection of other tours in the Santa Fe area. Enjoy your holiday in Santa Fe!
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