December Events You Just Can’t Miss

Do you want to experience December differently this year? Then plan a visit to The City Different. Santa Fe never looked prettier dressed in all her holiday color and lights! Add to that a town nestled in historic traditions, then throw in some snow, mix in a bit of annual celebration and voila!  You have the perfect Santa Fe winter holiday getaway! It’s our good fortune to have a myriad of festive events that spotlight a different kind holiday season. Bright blue skies with crisp frosty air and ski ready landscape? Got it. World-renowned regional cuisine? Always. Holiday music and performing arts? Hello! We’ve got it all. Here are a few of the top December events taking place in The City Different.

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Enjoy the Holiday Season in the Heart of Santa Fe County

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At the core of its being, Santa Fe County is a place of history, culture and ritual. During the holiday season it feels even more like the urgency of modern life quietly fades. A still, reverent ambience settles over Northern New Mexico as Christmas nears, intensifying the unique sights and scents of a culture preserved through centuries. Perhaps there’s no better sign of the holidays drawing close as the smoke of piñon wood rising from the adobe homes and dancing in the clear night sky. It wouldn’t be Christmas in Santa Fe County without chile, whose colors are, quite fittingly, red and green.

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A Santa Fe Family Spring Break Is Calling You!

Can you believe it? The holidays are over and you are thinking about your family’s spring break getaway. Tired of crowded and expensive amusement parks and beaches? This year, how about something different? Santa Fe is making it easy, affordable, and fun for you and your family to plan that unique spring break vacation. Beginning in March through mid-April, families have a chance to take advantage of deals and specials in Santa Fe and here’s the great part–– KIDS ARE FREE! From outdoor activities, arts, culture, lodging and accommodations, wellness, restaurants, and other kid-friendly attractions we have your family covered to maximize your budget and spring break fun.

An Unparalleled Cultural Family Experience

Santa Fe has been named as the #1 Cultural Getaway by Travel + Leisure and it’s no wonder––at 400+ years old, Santa Fe is the nation’s oldest capital city. With the unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo traditions that have been woven into the fabric of Santa Fe over the last 400 years, there is so much history to explore. A great educational opportunity awaits your family. Get inspired by Santa Fe’s rich blend of history, arts, and cultural heritage by visiting more than a dozen state and private museums around Santa Fe and take advantage of the more than 250 galleries!

Here are a few special offers to take advantage of during your #SpringBreakDifferent adventure!

New Mexico History Museum

From ancient artifacts to computer interactives, the New Mexico History Museum brings the past to life and challenges you to look at the American story in new ways. Transport your family through 500 years of New Mexico state history, by visiting the exhibit, “Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now” which explores the experiences of Native peoples, Spanish colonists, Santa Fe Trail riders, outlaws, the railroad, artists, scientists, hippies and more.

Admission for kids under 16 is free daily.

Museum of International Folk Art

With ongoing activities and special events, the museum is a great place for families! Exhibition galleries have special appeal to children of all ages with their interactive activities and regularly scheduled docent-led hands on art making activities. The Museum of International Folk Art has gained national and international recognition as an accredited museum that is home to the world’s largest collection of folk art. It’s guaranteed to be a hit! Children under 16 are free daily.

Other museums participating are the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Palace of the Governors. Also, kids under 16 are free daily.

folk art kids
Your children will marvel at the world’s largest collection of folk art in the world! (Photo courtesy of Wikiwand)


Find Your Family Lodging and Accommodation Special Deal!

Santa Fe holds a sophistication all its own and this translates into historic hotels combining old world Southwestern charm with impeccable new world service. Santa Fe hotels are ready to welcome you and your family this spring break and are offering fun activities like cooking classes and treasure quests. You’ll want to start your adventure and find lodging that offers modern conveniences that blend our old World New Mexican style! Below are a few examples of family-friendly specials.

Hotel Santa Fe

Check-in to fun at The Hotel Santa Fe with their exclusive spring break package. Make it a family affair and explore with the kids. Enjoy a special kids eat free menu and a daily activity such as Native American storytelling, craft hour or cooking classes and an exciting discovery hunt complete with a selfie stick to document all the lifelong memories you will be making.

Drury Plaza Hotel

Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe, the new hotel in the heart of historic Santa Fe, sits on five beautiful acres and will bring friendly, award-winning hospitality service to you and your family.

The Drury Spring Break package includes daily hot breakfast and evening reception, daily afternoon popcorn and soda. In addition, a 10% room discount and a treasure quest for children upon arrival will include a map of items to locate in the hotel. Upon completion, children will receive a small treasure!

Hotel Santa Fe is an award winning hotel, steps away from historic downtown Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy of Hotel Santa Fe)
Hotel Santa Fe is an award winning hotel, steps away from historic downtown Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy of Hotel Santa Fe)


So Many Family Dining Experiences!

Santa Fe’s culinary scene is sizzling so when you pack for your trip, make sure to bring your appetite! Here are two suggestions guaranteed to please the entire family.

Kakawa Chocolates

Who doesn’t love CHOCOLATE? FREE CHOCOLATE is even better! With the purchase of one adult, regular drinking chocolate elixir, you will receive one kid’s mini chocolate drinking elixir for FREE. Kids 12 and under qualify and must be present at time of purchase.

Luminaria Restaurant

During your spring break, kids eat free at Luminaria Restaurant when accompanied by a parent. Buy one full price adult entree and receive one complimentary entree from the children’s menu.

Luminaria Restaurant and Patio is an award-winning restaurant offering casual fine dining. (Photo courtesy of Inn and Spa at Loretto)
Luminaria Restaurant and Patio is an award-winning restaurant offering casual fine dining. (Photo courtesy of Inn and Spa at Loretto)


Experience Mind, Body and Spirit in Santa Fe

The Spa at Loretto

Who says parents should have all the fun? Plan a family spa day and receive a complimentary Classic Scrub, Buff and Polish Manicure for your child with the purchase of any full price adult body or facial service.

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder

It’s all about having fun at Buffalo Thunder! You can receive a free manicure for your child with an adult mani-pedi purchase. Be sure to check out other offers from Buffalo Thunder such as daily buffalo scavenger hunts, free kids golf lessons and more!


Ski The Santa Fe Slopes

Ski Santa Fe

Want to find an outdoor activity with the family? Try Ski Santa Fe!  Ski Santa Fe has a wonderful range of terrain, from isolated beginner slopes to lots of cruisers, some long bump runs, great glades and tree runs, and even a few short chutes and small bowls.

Buy 2 Adult Full Day lift tickets and get 1 child (12 & younger) lift ticket free!

Ski Santa Fe is the launching point for a ski experience your family will never forget. Photo courtesy of @skibunny505
Ski Santa Fe is the launching point for a ski experience your family will never forget. Photo courtesy of @skibunny505


Family Learning Time

Thousands of people travel to Santa Fe each year in order to take our unique classes and workshops. With so many gifted artists, writers, and chefs in town, Santa Fe has become an appealing destination for inspired learning.

You’ll be amazed by the range of Santa Fe classes and workshops. But it’s not surprising––this is a place where creativity thrives. Here’s a sampling of one of the many workshops to be offered.

Skate School Santa Fe

Are your kids rocking their skateboards?? Why not make it a fun family affair and take advantage of Skate School Santa Fe’s offer of receiving one skateboard lesson from a qualified instructor using their boards and safety gear? There’s also an indoor skateboard park at the school to receive your lesson! Kids under 12 will receive a free lesson with each accompanying adult lesson.


Have you ever wanted to learn how to dance “flamenco”? Now’s your chance! Entreflamenco will be offering free flamenco dance instruction for you and your family every Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. Space is limited. Be sure to reserve a spot for your family today. Ole!

Bubbly Heart Studio

What better way for your family to connect than to create your own work of art? Kids paint free with each paying adult! Bubbly Heart Studio will supply a 16 X 20 canvas, canvas paints, brushes, aprons, and cupcakes too! Seating is limited. Book your slot today.

Feel of passion of flamenco in a dance lesson! (Photo courtesy of Entreflamenco)


Visit #SpringBreakDifferent to learn more about Santa Fe’s special offers. Discover Santa Fe for family fun and start planning your #SpringBreakDifferent today! To get started, order our 2016 Santa Fe travel guide.



Dig into the Roots of Santa Fe’s Winter Cuisine

When Santa Fe puts on her winter whites, new memories are made and old flavors re-discovered as the sights and scents change in seasonal splendor along with the weather. Our historic destination is blessed by food traditions as ancient as the cultures that settled here so long ago, and we honor our past each time we celebrate with a convivial repast. Certain treats are especially appreciated on our tables at times of the year when their robust flavors warm us from the inside out, and their reappearance is always eagerly anticipated and welcomed with hearty appetites. Why not join me for a tummy tour of winter in an only-in-Santa-Fe culinary adventure?

Yuletide Is Yummy with Tamales on the Table

T is for tamale, the treat we love to eat! (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe School of Cooking)
T is for tamale, the treat we love to eat! (Photo courtesy of Santa Fe School of Cooking)

A tamale seems like a casual affair when you consider the ingredients, but as you delve deeper into the preparation, you realize this comfort food is anything but simple. Setting up a home tamale line to turn out dozens, if not scores, means we are able to eat them with abandon. Fillings run the gamut from classic pork and red chile to a variety of vegetarian inventions, and Santa Fe home cooks like me feel free to experiment with whatever leftovers are sitting in the fridge. Surrounded by a soft, creamy cornmeal casing and steamed inside a cornhusk, a tamale is truly gustatory greatness in a small package — can you tell I love them?

Originating in Mesoamerica B.C., tamales were an easy, portable food for hunters and travelers, and they fed the armies of these ancient cultures long before Spanish conquistadores landed in the New World. The Mexican tradition of serving tamales at Christmas-time migrated north to New Mexico and has become an annual delight to which we Santa Feans look forward, whether it’s Grandma leading the assembly line in her kitchen, or dining at one of our favorite Santa Fe restaurants.

Situated in the same spot since 1952, Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen holds a hallowed place in Santa Fe lore for its massive menu of margaritas, which makes pairing a plate of tamales with a signature margarita a delightful challenge I am always willing to take. The scent of red chile wafts up as you unwrap the tamale, and the pleasant but not overwhelming heat suits the tender cornmeal casing just right (uh-oh, I think I have to

Enjoy Santa Fe’s winter spirit and hot tamales at Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen. Photo Courtesy ABQ Journal
Enjoy Santa Fe’s winter spirit and hot tamales at Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen. Photo Courtesy ABQ Journal

Take a table at La Plazuela for the colorful taste of Santa Fe.
Take a table at La Plazuela for the colorful taste of Santa Fe.

For atmosphere, the sky-lit surroundings of La Plazuela in the heart of La Fonda on the Plaza offer a memorable ambiance, bringing me and my pals back again and again, and a recent remodel has this Grande Dame looking her absolute holiday best. You can order your tamales topped with red or green chile, or do like the locals and request Christmas-style, which means you’ll get them with both red and green chile on top —that’s a Santa Fe holiday on a plate available all year long for the asking!

Putting Posole in the Pot Guarantees a Great Meal

Corn meant so much to the indigenous cultures of the New World, and posole (also spelled pozole) is yet another iteration of this critical crop. Maize, the ancestor of today’s corn, was considered a sacred plant by this hemisphere’s ancient inhabitants prior to Old World colonization, and was featured at rituals and special occasions. In preparation for posole, the corn kernels are dried after the harvest and then soaked in a lime solution and hulled before being combined with meat (typically pork), garlic, onions, red chile, and a variety of spices. Of course, it’s always the chef’s privilege to improvise!

Traditionally served as a Christmas Eve meal, a pot of posole simmering on the stove in advance allows a family to participate in Las Posadas without fretting about dinner. This annual Christmas Eve re-enactment of the Holy Family’s search for shelter on a cold winter night is a time for neighbors to visit, and families to gather and celebrate the traditions of the past and joys of the present. The heft and hearty character of posole also serves to keep us satisfied if we’re planning to attend Midnight Mass at our beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.

Bienvenidos means you are welcome to dig in at Tia Sophia’s.
Bienvenidos means you are welcome to dig in at Tia Sophia’s.

Winter weather and holiday music are my reminders to take out the slow cooker for a big batch of posole, but any time of the year I can rely on a fix at Tia Sophia, the breakfast-and-lunch only haunt of foodies in the know. Served in lieu of beans alongside an enchilada or swimming solo in a bowl, Tia’s posole delivers midday meal memories. And you might even see hometown guitar hero and scion of the family, Alex Maryol, heading into the kitchen.

Winter’s When You Gotta Get the Green

I confess that there are times when my kitchen larder lacks some basics, but there is one thing that is always in both my freezer and my refrigerator, and that’s green chile. Multiple bags of roasted, peeled, and frozen pods await their transformation into whatever green chile fantasy appears on my table. Add a little of this, a little of that, and voila, it’s dinner! Although I cycle weekly through tacos and tostadas, enchiladas and quesadillas, green chile stew holds a special place in my heart. Well, maybe I mean my tummy.

Like all stews, our Santa Fe versions developed as an inexpensive way to make a little bit of meat go a long way by adding the humble peasant combo of potato and onion to expand the portfolio. The traditional stew combination of meat (usually pork or beef, but chicken is common, and turkey is a seasonal treat) with the vegetable classics cooked low and slow until the meat is tender goes to new heights when green chile makes a deliciously spicy sauce. I grew up on my mother’s brawny beef stew, and I apologize, Mom, but your recipe has been supplanted by the hot stuff.

Tomasita’s Big Bowl? Bring it on, baby!
Tomasita’s Big Bowl? Bring it on, baby!

If I’m in the mood to eat green chile stew, but not in the mood to make it, I head straight for Tomasita’s. This Santa Fe Railyard restaurant is renowned for its chile, and even if you have to wait a bit for a table (the no-reservations policy is fairly standard for casual New Mexican restaurants), it’s never too long, and the margaritas pass the time pleasantly. Ask for the Big Bowl, and mix up the ingredients (beans, no beans, posole, no posole, you get the idea) in the green chile stew as your tastes incline. Tomasita’s recipe has been honed in this kitchen for over 40 years by the same family, so you know they’ve got it down pat.

Our Holiday Cookie Has State Status

New Mexico was the first state in the U.S. to have an official state cookie, designated back in 1989. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania can fight over who really has the best official chocolate chip cookie, but no one else has the subtly sweet anise-flavored sugar cookie we call a biscochito — or bizcochito, depending on who’s doing the spelling (like pozole vs. posole, and I won’t fight those battles).

Heritage recipes are guarded closely and released with Grandma’s admonitions on ingredients and technique. Traditionally made with lard, which some still consider superior for results, biscochitos start to appear in our Santa Fe households when holiday garlands start to deck the halls. Their light flavor and delicate sweetness never overpower after a meal. With a cup of coffee, they make a surprisingly delicious breakfast (okay, I confess to a sweet tooth active all day long), or a simple midnight snack. Like basic sugar cookies, they are pretty darn easy to make — check out this recipe from the Santa Fe School of Cooking. But you can make it even easier by picking up a box at The Chocolate Maven, where they are made with butter so vegetarians can eat sweet too!

Bring on the biscochitos, baby!
Bring on the biscochitos, baby!

Taste the Holidays in Santa Fe

For centuries, Santa Fe has been a mecca for talent, and it stands to reason that our food traditions continue to attract kitchen creatives. So many wonderful chefs and home cooks have made the City Different their home, and in the process, have enhanced our food culture in ways we never expected. The old ways still work their mouth-watering magic, however, especially when the season for holiday indulgence comes around. Our table always has a seat awaiting you and yours, and you’re invited to make the taste of Santa Fe a part of a recipe for delicious discoveries in our historic town.