This summer, immerse yourself in the rich and unique cultural diversity of Santa Fe County. Blending native traditions and those brought here over the past four centuries from Old World Spain, Mexico and Europe, northern New Mexico has developed its own distinctive heritage. The area is a remarkable reflection of the people who’ve settled here and made it their home.
Celebrate some of these traditions at two fun-filled festivals you won’t find anywhere else. Then, venture out into the country on horseback, the way the caballeros and cowboys once did, to explore a stunning landscape of majestic mountains. These are the ingredients for a trip you’ll always treasure and a summer full of culture in Santa Fe.
¡Viva Mexico! Fiesta
It’s worth visiting New Mexico’s only living history museum, El Rancho de las Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows) anytime this summer. You’ll journey some 300 years into the past, thanks to costumed docents and historic buildings representing Spanish Colonial and Territorial periods in 18th and 19th-century New Mexico. But time your visit with the 11th Annual ¡Viva México! Fiesta, held Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and you’ll be swept up in a colorful pageantry of traditions, art, music and food that honors Mexico, our vibrant neighbor to the south.
A collaboration between El Rancho de las Golondrinas and the Mexican Consulate in Albuquerque, the fiesta promotes cultural exchange with events that are unique to Mexico, including the charreada. Similar to a rodeo, this competitive horse-and-rider event grew out of farming and ranching practices that were popular on haciendas in old Mexico. The ¡Viva México! Fiesta also showcases traditional dance performances by Ballet Folklorico and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet to the sounds of rousing mariachi music. You can shop the Mercado for handcrafted jewelry, art and other items made by Mexican artisans and savor delicious food cooked up by chefs from Santa Fe Mexican restaurants.
Panza Llena, Corazón Contento: New Mexico Food and Beer Festival
Explore New Mexico’s fascinating foodways during El Rancho de las Golondrinas’ 2nd Annual Panza Llena, Corazón Contento: New Mexico Food and Beer Festival, held Saturday, August 4 and Sunday August 5, 2018 from 12 to 6 p.m. Be sure to bring your appetite as well as a sense of adventure, for you’ll travel back in time, tasting food and beverages that reflect New Mexico’s edible history.
Learn about chile, chocolate, squash and various other ingredients as well as historic methods of food preparation from food historians and by watching food demonstrations. Try your hand at making tortillas and grinding corn. Of course, you’ll be tasting mouth-watering, local fare and pairing it with craft beer from 10 New Mexico breweries. Panza Llena, Corazón Contento is a Spanish dícho, or saying, that translates to “Full Belly, Happy Heart,” and that’s exactly how you’ll feel after attending this delectable festival.
Horseback Riding in Cerrillos Hills State Park
If watching the impressive riders in the Mexican charreada inspires you to try some horseback riding of your own, you’re in luck. Just off the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, in the old mining town of Cerrillos, sits Cerrillos Hills State Park, with spectacular scenery for a guided horseback ride. Rent horses from an area outfitter who will lead you through rolling juniper-covered hills, offering majestic views of the surrounding Sandia, Ortiz, Jemez, and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. Riders of all levels are welcome on these seasonal morning, afternoon, sunset and moonlight trips.
The treasured state park occupies 1,098 acres and is a wonder to explore, with hills that are remnants of volcanoes, formed 30 million years ago. Today, Cerrillos Hills offers something for everyone, from hiking and mountain biking to birding, picnicking and other activities. Five miles of interpretive trails lead past old closed mines, revealing the area’s rich mining history. You may spy a golden eagle, a great horned owl or one of the other 30 bird species that have been identified in the park. To find out about guided hikes and other year-round events, check the Cerrillos Hills State Park Visitor Center schedule.
If you love to immerse yourself in culture and history be sure to include these events in your Santa Fe summer getaway. Find all the essentials for your stay in Santa Fe in the 2018 Santa Fe Travel Guide and use the deals and specials offered by our hotel and restaurant partners to make the most of your visit.