Summer in Santa Fe: Love at First Sound

Think of Santa Fe and you’re likely to conjure up visuals of dramatic sunsets, evergreen mountains, and earth-toned pueblo architecture. Well let me let you in on a little secret — Santa Fe is just as pleasing on the ears as it is on the eyes. You heard it here: Santa Fe is one heckuva music town, offering locals and visitors an awesome menu of musical attractions including pristine classical choral works, rootsy blues, and everything in between. And I do mean everything.

While music pulses through Santa Fe’s 400-year-old veins all year round, summer is the standout season to catch live music at a favorite venue, concert series, or dining spot, or to expand your musical horizons with something completely different. Summer is when laughter mingles with guitar strings in patios along Canyon Road, when drumbeats echo softly off the centuries-old buildings in the Plaza. Summer is when Santa Fe music is in full bloom.

Here are my liner notes on how to experience Santa Fe’s summer music smorgasbord. Post here to tell me about yours.

400 Years Old and Still Partying All Week

Throughout the summer Santa Fe’s stately 400-year-old Plaza takes center stage, literally, for our beloved summer concert series, Santa Fe Bandstand. The series revs up June 21, with free live music 4–5 nights a week, and at noon on Mondays and Wednesdays (now that’s my idea of a “working lunch”). Night or day, Santa Fe Bandstand faithfully delivers soul-shaking sounds and laughter-inducing times. Make no mistake, this is summer at it’s feel-good best. Hips will be shaken, and arms will be waved, as audiences revel Americana, country swing, R&B, rock, New Mexican folk, indie, and world music. The night I caught one of my faves, Band of Heathens from Austin, I danced so much I could barely move in yoga class the next day, but it was so worth it.

Image: Mike Hearn playing for a packed Plaza at the Santa Fe Bandstand, photo credit Nichael Dellheim

If I’m not wearing my dancing shoes, and want to spend some time relaxing with my friends, I take in the Bandstand sounds from what locals consider the “best seats in the house”: the quaint restaurant balconies overlooking the Plaza. Perched above the lively crowd, loungers, people-watchers, and nibblers (like moi) can enjoy a light dinner while sipping a margarita, a local microbrew, or a local wine.

Put Santa Fe Bandstand on your summer must-do list, and experience downtown Santa Fe’s greatest hits of sounds, sights, and flavors. Check out the awesome lineup to plan your summer concert playlist. 

Opera Opens Up in Santa Fe

Summer in Santa Fe means opera. And that means spine-chilling performance, spectacular staging, and fun — yes, fun. Founded in 1957, The Santa Fe Opera has garnered global acclaim for its artistic excellence, and local adoration for its engaging personality. Notions of the stuffy opera house with bejeweled aristocrats need not apply.  At The Santa Fe Opera works are often set in contemporary times, and digital librettos at each seat allow you to follow along in English or Spanish. Opera novices and veterans alike will find plenty to love in a five-opera season that offers a mix of works ranging from treasured classics to avant-garde world premiers.

Image: Another fab sunset at the Santa Fe Opera- stage set, Peter Grimes.” Photo credit: Ken Howard

The Santa Fe Opera is an experience that transcends classical music. The opera’s open-sided auditorium showcases Santa Fe sunsets and occasional lightning flashes as dramatic as anything in Puccini’s catalogue. Pre-opera tailgating, every bit as eclectic as it sounds, is an event unto itself. And dining at the opera’s gourmet buffet tops bucket lists far and wide (make reservations months in advance, tables are limited). Note: fret not about finding that perfect opera outfit, anything goes here — from jeans to black tie.

Put your opera hang-ups aside, and see how lively, romantic, and entertaining it can be. For tickets and information, visit the online box office.

Thank God It’s Wednesday

Forget the midweek slump as Wednesday oh-so-smoothly gets its groove back with what many consider the quintessential Santa Fe summer music experience: Music on the Hill. Wednesdays from mid-June to late July, these free outdoor concerts, sponsored by St. John’s College, are all jazz, all the time. The series boasts a potent mix of national and local musicians, and an equally eclectic audience of diehards, newbies, hipsters, families, and unabashed jazz dolls and daddy-o’s.

Image: Music on the Hill. Credit Corrie Ph

Set on a lovely mountainside meadow, Music on the Hill invites audiences to satisfy their appetites for great jazz and great food. It’s a BYO venue, which means you can feast on your favorite local delicacies while you listen. Truth be told, Music on the Hill not only cured my jazz-phobia, it introduced me to a fabulous subculture of power-picnickers, generous foodies eager to share artisan cheese, fresh baguettes, tempting chocolate, and local wine. No worries if you’re too busy to bring your own picnic. Just grab a delightful snack or savory dinner from the on-site catering stands. For a choice spot, arrive well before the 6 pm start time. Parking is limited, so do like the locals and take the convenient shuttle, which departs from Museum Hill every 15 minutes.

The Summer Classics

Image: A packed St. Francis Auditorium photo credit: InSightFoto Inc.

One of my first encounters with Santa Fe happened in New York, when I saw a Georgia O’Keefe poster promoting one of the early seasons of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. So naturally, when I moved to Santa Fe, I had to check it out.

During this 6-week festival running mid July through late August you can luxuriate in the gorgeous sounds of some of the world’s greatest musicians. The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival presents chamber music across a spectrum that ranges from legendary composers to classical music vanguards. Evening concerts at the intimate and historic St. Francis Auditorium or the fabulous New Mexico Art Museum offer a soothing summer breeze of sound. Insider tip: catch a show then meet a friend for tapas and wine. Festival concerts begin at 5 or 6 pm with one-hour concerts Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon.

The Best Seat in Santa Fe for Can’t-Miss Performances

Image: Blues musician, Eric Bibb, onstage at the Lensic photo credit: Kate Russell

While Santa Fe’s summer music festivals roll on, locals and visitors can often enjoy a 1-night-only concert by a national touring artist or must-see performance troupe at Santa Fe’s premier concert venue, the Lensic Performing Arts Center. In a city recognized for its adobe architecture, the Lensic does more than just stand out. This Deco building, built in 1931, offers marvelous acoustics and an intimate setting that makes audience members feel like they’re at a private show, with the likes of Darius Brubeck, a solo acoustic show from Grateful Dead co-founder guitarist and vocalist Bob Weir, and folk icon Arlo Guthrie. Peruse upcoming events, and then enjoy your favorite sounds in a fabulous setting steps from the Plaza.

If Your Grass Is Blue

Image: Band Scramble event onstage at the Bluegrass & Old Time Festival photo credit: Peter Escherick

Summer music season in Santa Fe winds down the weekend before Labor Day at the annual Bluegrass & Old Time Festival. Okay, I’ll admit it: I have been known to obsess over O Brother Where Art Thou, and it only had a little to do with George Clooney. You see, I grew up listening to my granddad’s Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe records; I’ve been a big fan of bluegrass forever. The festival, held every year since 1975 at the County Fairgrounds, is the perfect place for me to revisit my roots and dance like I’m in the holler — minus the overalls.

Enjoy a variety of folk music genres here, from traditional Appalachian to Celtic, from nationally known acts to artists playing the New Mexico scene. Or dive into classes, workshops, talent contests, and more.

Tune In to Summer in Santa Fe

Music rules Santa Fe all summer, and you never have to go far to find it. Sounds from across the globe fill the air from the Plaza to the Railyard to the museum district and beyond. Come drink in Santa Fe summer goodness with vibrant performances, funky festivals, and classical delights. We’re saving a seat for you.

Find Your Own Bite of Burger Bliss in Santa Fe Hamburger Heaven

It’s only natural to imagine all sorts of divine culinary treats when you think of Santa Fe. Still, in a city jam-packed with inventive and world-renowned restaurants, there are some days when only a hamburger will do. Fear not, burger obsession is perfectly normal, especially during May, which is National Hamburger Month.

True, Santa Fe is best known for chile and New Mexican delicacies, but I’m here to petition that the City Different be crowned “Hamburger Heaven.” From lamb to prime rib, buffalo to veggie, there is a burger for every palate. Here’s my official Santa Fe hamburger greatest hits list. Dig in, and then share your own favorite burger discoveries. It’s all good.

Veggie Burger Comes Home: Del Charro

Del Charro Saloon at the Inn of the Governors is tops for fulfilling your meat-free burger needs. This festive tavern is a favorite amongst locals for reasonably priced, uncomplicated food and well-crafted margaritas. The atmosphere is energetic and fun, with a warm and welcoming vibe. The veggie and grain burger is a bargain at $5, but I suggest adding on the green chile and avocado to enhance the deliciousness. This is by no means a bland patty, and you get the satisfaction of a burger without the guilt. They don’t skimp on portions or flavor here, plus Del Charro serves food until midnight.

Grab a Seat at the Local Diner: Plaza Cafe

Turkey Basil Burger at Plaza Cafe

I love a genuine diner, and the Plaza Cafe has that quintessential charm. Cozy booths, a black and white tile floor, swivel bar stools, and an atmosphere that is alive and bustling all combine to make this family owned restaurant a beloved institution. Located directly on the Plaza, this haunt has been dishing up fine traditional New Mexican, classic American, and Greek fare since 1947. If you are on the burger trail, take the path that leads to the incomparable turkey basil burger. The herbs and spices, along with the perfect hints of fresh basil, make this dish a standout. Juicy, lean, and mouthwatering, I can almost guarantee that you will be craving this impeccable burger, and, if you’re like me, trying your best to recreate it at home. While out strolling the Plaza and taking in the sights, be sure to pop into this Santa Fe treasure.

Southwest + Mediterranean Meet Half-Way: Joe’s Dining

Joe’s Dining Greek Lamb Burger

Joe’s goes several steps beyond traditional diner fare to offer a great selection of locally sourced meats, cheeses, and vegetables, and it pays off. This restaurant, located in a neighborhood shopping center just a short drive from downtown, is a great local hangout, but the flavors and Mediterranean-influenced entrees are fresh and inspiring. Roll on in and order Joe’s award-winning creation: the Greek lamb burger. Local, organic lamb is grilled on an open fire mesquite grill, and then topped with feta and Kalamata olives and a side of tzatziki. Can you say “opa!”? This is a creative and delightful burger, harmoniously accompanied with homemade sweet potato and russet chips. Do not miss this inspired dining experience.

Where Green Chile Rules the Roost: Staab House

Santa Fe and Green Chile have a long and fiery relationship, and when it comes to burgers, things only get juicier. Case in point, The Staab House–an authentic, timeless saloon located just steps off the Plaza–where locals and fortunate visitors can experience the culinary fusion of succulent Kobe beef and smoky New Mexico green chile.

Alongside the cozy, red-walled dining lounge, a secluded patio welcomes diners, happy hour compadres, date-night couples, and serious burger enthusiasts. The quintessential Santa Fe burger at the Staab House? Without question, the Green Chile Relleno Kobe Burger. No, that is not a typo. This brazen burger features a freshly made green chile relleno (what could be more authentically Santa Fe than that?) reclining with come-hither confidence atop a perfectly grilled Kobe beef patty.

Dressed with traditional garden-fresh green veggies, ripe tomatoes, and nestled into a pillow-soft bun, this burger is a divine exercise in contradiction: subtle and bold, sweet and spicy, traditional and innovative. But no matter how you describe it, chances are you’ll find room for the Green Chile Relleno Kobe Burger on your burger bucket list.

Dressed-up Burger, Laid-back atmosphere: Five Star Burgers

Five Star Crab Burger

The art of “chill” is perfected just 5 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, where friends, families, outdoor adventurers, and rowdy sports fans gather to experience burger nirvana at the aptly named Five Star Burgers. Here, the daily options – and there are plenty – are listed on a chalkboard, and the servers are on a first-name basis with the smiling burger faithful who pour in for lunch, happy hour, and dinner.

Don’t let the casual atmosphere fool you. Five Star Burgers is serious about their burgers. Perhaps the greatest testament to this is an item you won’t find in a run-of-the-mill burger joint: the Five Star Crab Burger.

Lighter but no less flavorful than beef or game options, the Crab Burger satisfies both your adventurous and less-carnivorous side all at once. Delicate crabmeat and a secret blend of spices create a tangy patty that is basted with a sweet chile sauce – you are in Santa Fe, after all – and grilled to mouthwatering perfection. Tucked in a fresh wheat bun, and served with crispy slaw and tartar sauce, the Five Star Crab Burger brings big flavor and an offbeat twist to the Santa Fe burger landscape.

Buffalo Done Right: Harry’s Roadhouse

La Mont’s Buffalo Burger at Harry’s Roadhouse

Just a short way down Old Las Vegas Highway waits another beloved eatery, Harry’s Roadhouse, a Southwestern-styled funky oasis that’s always hopping. From blue corn pancakes to Thai curry, this place has all of the bases covered. Their most popular item, though, is the locally raised, simply yummy La Mont’s buffalo burger. For the uninitiated, buffalo has a bit of a sweeter taste than beef, and is usually less greasy because of a lower fat content. This is a “healthier” burger and you can feel justified in cleaning your plate, even those perfectly crafted hand-cut fries.

No matter what your taste is, adventures await you on your search for the perfect Santa Fe burger. Traditional to innovative, lean and healthy to decadent and indulgent, it won’t take long for you to find the patty of your desires. Explore and enjoy “Hamburger Heaven” for yourself. I’d love to see pictures of your favorite burgers so post them here.

Santa Fe + Summer + You = The Bucket List Best

As the sun moves higher and higher into the azure sky, bringing with it the gift of longer days, Santa Fe starts to glow with all the possibilities that summer offers. The welcoming small-town feeling of this 403-year-old capital city mixes with a treasure trove of world-class art and music to make a winning combination for cultural adventure.

Pristine mornings sparkle with anticipation as gallery doors open, beckoning the wanderer to enter and explore the beauty of every art form imaginable. The rhythmic strum of a flamenco guitar echoes on the Plaza, and tranquility flows from legend light stretching out the shadows at day’s end – Santa Fe blesses its locals and visitors alike. How can you capture that feeling? From Verdi to vino, from fine art and folk music to dining al fresco, there are so many ways to pair perfect weather with unique experiences to make Santa Fe your own this summer!

We Built This City….with Music

Not many opera companies can boast that they run in the black on a two-month season, but the Santa Fe Opera can. From a humble 1957 beginning, with audiences seated on wooden benches open to a glorious sunset or a sudden summer shower, this haven of heavenly vocal music has grown into a top-drawer affair with a stunning outdoor theater to match.

The Santa Fe Opera Theater, designed for sunsets and song

It’s not exactly a cast of thousands, but from its year-round staff of 72, the Opera population swells to around 600-plus by the time the sun goes down and the music comes up.

Every season offers five different productions, a creative blend of audience favorites and forgotten classics. One of the hallmarks of the Opera is its consistent staging of both world and national premieres – pretty bold stuff on a hillside in the Southwest.

And it’s not only the music that makes the magic; it’s the mountains in the distance, the tuxedos and gowns, and dinner or a tailgating party. You can enjoy a preview buffet, complete with wine, and linger over dessert while listening to a lecture by an opera maven in the Opera’s dining pavilion. Or make it simple by ordering a tailgate picnic supper and bringing a pair of folding chairs. You can even go native and borrow a pickup to bring in a table for twenty, complete with candlesticks, white tablecloths and champagne. The sky’s the limit for a personal opera party, and the New Mexico sky itself becomes even more beautiful as the stars start to twinkle above.

The 2013 SFO season opens June 28th with New Mexico native Susan Graham in the title role of Offenbach’s comic Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, followed on June 29th by Mozart’s perennial crowd-pleaser, The Marriage of Figaro. Super-star Joyce Di Donato appears in Rossini’s rarely-heard La  Donna del Lago, coming to the Opera stage for the first time beginning July 13. Tragic romance, anyone? Hear it in spades with Verdi’s heart-breaking La Traviata, opening July 20th. The repertoire completes with the world premiere of Theodore Morrison’s Oscar, opening July 27th with renowned counter-tenor David Daniels bringing Oscar Wilde to life. Fan-girl? Totally!

As much as I love dressing up to hear a beautiful baritone, sometimes my mood runs to something a little less formal. That’s when I head downtown to the Santa Fe Plaza for the Santa Fe Bandstand summer music series. All you need is a blanket and a picnic basket for a great date; just remember that no alcohol is allowed on the Plaza. This locally-sponsored annual music extravaganza starts rockin’ and rollin’ June 21st at 6pm, with two different bands each performance night, intermingling local favorites and nationally touring groups. And beginning July 1st, noon performances let us locals escape from the office for a musical hour. Sexy belly-dancers will shake it, hip-hoppers will break it, and tribal music will make it global over nine weeks until the series ends August 23rd. Every year I vow I’ll be brave enough to join the swing dance crowd – maybe this summer, I’ll keep that promise!

Many musical styles to be found on the Santa Fe Bandstand

There’s jazz on the Bandstand too, and diehards get to groove to the sounds of the New Mexico Jazz Festival. The cachet of Santa Fe’s vibrant performing arts scene attracts name-brand musicians to venues split between the Lensic Performing Arts Center and the Santa Fe Plaza. From July 21 through July 27, Stanley Clarke, Terence Blanchard and the hot, hot, hot Eddie Palmieri are a few of the jazz masters who will pull out all the stops on the stage of the Lensic.

The Great Books program at St. John’s College makes this scholarly institution a valued guardian of the classics in Santa Fe. And there’s more on offer, since summer brings St. John’s Music on the Hill, a Wednesday night series of outdoor musical performances, now in its eighth season, taking place from June 12th through July 24from 6 to 8pm on the green expanse of the college’s lovely grass field. Concertgoers can hang out on the lawn with a picnic dinner obtained on premises from Walter Burke Catering or you and your gang can just bring a basket of goodies and a blanket. Self-parking is at a premium (read “get here early if you want your own car”), but a shuttle van runs every 15 minutes from the ample parking lots at Museum Hill, thanks to City of Santa Fe Rapid Transit.

Feeling all heated up with ideas now? Cool down with a Chopin nocturne or go for baroque with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, now in its 41st year. From July 14 to August 19, you can dine out before delighting to Dvorak or spend an hour at a daytime rehearsal. Most concerts take place at the St. Francis Auditorium with an occasional outing at the Lensic, and the thrilling roster of artists includes the Orion String Quartet, Garrick Ohlsson, Felix Fan, and a host of guest vocalists taking a break from their roles at the Santa Fe Opera.

Art, Artisans, Artistry…Wherever You Turn

I’m talking art, and I’m talking Santa Fe! Nobody does art like the City Different, and there is more than one way to get outdoors for your art fix. Whether you’re strolling down Canyon Road, cruising the Railyard, or exploring the Plaza and its narrow byways, you’ll discover exciting and inspiring galleries and studios…over 250 of them.  Throughout the summer, there are art walks and gallery openings on Friday evenings, and the artistry on display in Santa Fe 365 days a year will boggle your mind.

Now let’s talk world-class markets! While the Native American artisans kindly oblige us by sitting out under the portal regardless of the weather, summer is the season when Santa Fe goes all out to show off the diversity of its visual art markets.

I can hardly believe that the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is ten years old! Who could have imagined that this great little idea would grow into a major attraction for lovers of unique folk art from around the world? Not only do I get to decorate my Santa Fe adobe with treasures from Africa or Bolivia, I also get the satisfaction of knowing that the dollars I exchange for a lovingly handmade piece help sustain a village cooperative and ensure the continuity of artistic and tribal traditions. Milner Plaza on Museum Hill will be humming with the sights, sounds and scents of a global culture July 12-14.

La Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assis – our official name is indeed a mouthful – has its own traditional heritage to show off when Spanish Market hits the Plaza on July 26-28. I always enjoy watching the Plaza getting dolled up as the City readies itself for the annual display of artistic traditions that came to the New World from the Old World. Colcha embroidery and weaving, straw applique and tinsmithing, silver and santos, all these unique traditional crafts are kept alive and expressive by dedicated artisans who work all year long for this one summer weekend. If your tastes run to the modern, a Contemporary Hispanic Market reveals a more edgy take on the artistic heritage. This is art worth having, full of meaning and history – just keep enough in your pocket to hit the carnita stand for lunch!

La Herencia, alive at Spanish Market
Big, bold beadwork on display at the Santa Fe Indian Market

Having an artistic adventure in Santa Fe goes way, way back, when you consider how old the Santa Fe Indian Market is – almost 100! But old does not mean tired, because there is something fresh every year. I never miss an opportunity to put on my concho belt and a big sun hat and head to the Plaza to see who won Best of Show. Now in its 92nd year, Indian Market is legendary, the largest Native American arts market of its kind, welcoming pueblos and tribes from all over the continent. Doubt me? I saw Penobscot basket makers, Haida carvers, Navajo silversmiths and Sioux hoop dancers all in one day, and that is only a small taste of this rich and satisfying experience. With the work of over 1000 artists to choose from, no one seems to go away empty-handed, and yes, there is a booth that will pack it up and ship it home for you.

 

Or Maybe You Just Want a Glass of Wine in a Pristine Setting

El Rancho de las Golondrinas – this mill really grinds flour!

That can be arranged…in fact, it already is, thanks to El Rancho de las Golondrinas graciously hosting the annual Santa Fe Wine Festival July 6-7. Twenty years have not dimmed the appeal of sipping and sampling at this living history museum on the outskirts of town. Sixteen New Mexico wineries will be presenting varietals to try or take home, and there’s food to pair with your vino and live music too. Golondrinas, with its active traditional farming and crafts demonstrations, is one of my favorite places to experience both the authenticity and natural beauty of Santa Fe and New Mexico, and summer is not complete without a visit to see the ancient cottonwoods sway and hear the old mill sing its creaky song.

 

Go Ahead…Make Santa Fe Yours

Opera to scat singing, mariachis to Mendelssohn, contemporary art masterpieces to traditional silver bracelets and African baskets…do you see what I mean? It’s not so much a question of what there is to do, it’s a question of choosing which adventures you’ll savor the next time you return – that’s why people come back to visit Santa Fe again and again. Immerse yourself in the magic of music and art, be inspired by the culture and timeless traditions, and paint your summer with colorful memories of the City Different!

 

Santa Fe Railyard

Get On Board Santa Fe’s Newest Old Hot-Spot: The Railyard District

In a city known for its high altitude, elevated spirits, and glorious skies, one might understandably overlook Santa Fe’s most down-to-earth cultural icon: the Santa Fe Railyard District.

Santa Fe Railyard
Santa Fe Railyard. All Rights Reserved. 2013 Santa Fe CVB.

The Railyard District is Santa Fe’s newest old neighborhood, offering an ever-evolving version of the authentic Southwestern experience. While Santa Fe’s historic Plaza may be the heart of town, the Railyard is its new cultural lifeline, serving up a casual — dare-I-say hipper — side of Santa Fe, while tipping its hat to traditional and time-honored activities just blocks away, and living side by side with one of Santa Fe’s oldest neighborhoods. Here locals and visitors converge in an eclectic mecca of contemporary art, fresh food, unique shopping, and old-fashioned relaxation.

Long before it became a “district,” however (more than a hundred years ago, for you history buffs), the Santa Fe Railyard served as the official gateway to the City Different. Tourists, artists, businessmen, and more than a few adventure seekers discovered a magical frontier beyond their wildest dreams, courtesy of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Strolling the picturesque district on a coffee-fueled spring morning, I learned that the Santa Fe Railyard District once supported a booming railroad economy, bringing laborers and materials vital to the development of our distinctive central neighborhoods and landmarks. Decades of economic glory faded into memory, however, as new generations of travelers found Santa Fe by car and eventually airplane. And the once-bustling Railyard fell to neglect and abandon.

Thankfully, Santa Fe’s past and future got back on track, so to speak, when the city pledged to revitalize the Santa Fe Railyard District, restoring the cultural hub’s historic elements, and reinventing a lively network of colorful, open-air community spaces. The district’s revitalization included the establishment of the Railyard Park, which is the “green heart” of the district. The park includes an outdoor performance space for movies and concerts, picnic areas in shady groves and gardens, and 5,000 feet of walk-bike trails that will link to a citywide trail network.

Much like the rail lines of old, the Santa Fe Railyard District offers refreshing, surprising, and unforgettable stops. Indulge in Santa Fe’s emerging performance events, dining destinations, and to-die-for shops. Or just set off on a local journey defined only by the district’s enchanting rhythm. So let’s roll down the tracks …

Tomasita’s

Swirl margaritas and abuela-approved chile at Tomasita’s

Tomasita’s proudly holds court among Santa Fe’s chile royalty. But there’s nothing stodgy about this local landmark. Open since 1974, the lively restaurant is considered by many the epicenter of the Railyard. Drop in to begin or end your day, to see and be seen, or to soak up the Railyard’s good vibes and creative energy. Authentic — as in, “abuela’s in the kitchen” — New Mexican food is the specialty. That means mouthwatering traditional chiles rellenos, enchiladas, and stuffed sopaipillas. (I confess the smell of fresh tortillas sustained me as I waited in the quick-moving line of hungry patrons.) Diners are encouraged to fearlessly dive into local red and green chile, and then toast the culinary adventure with a famous sangria swirl margarita.

 SITE Santa Fe

Listening to ice melting at SITE Santa Fe

Visit SITE Santa Fe to experience full-throttle visual and performance art in the Railyard District. Here video, photography, large-scale sculpture, and painting coexist in harmony, as internationally recognized artists make full use of this modern space. SITE’s fantastic, flexible gallery space and groundbreaking contemporary art exhibitions provide an intoxicating yang to the yin of Santa Fe’s beloved traditional arts. I can proudly say I expanded my artistic horizons by simply wandering through each of the current exhibitions. A video installation by performance artist Linda Montano entitled “Art/Life Counseling” really called to me (though I’m not exactly sure what it said). The video monitor is draped in a disheveled red wig and the face of the artist speaks directly to viewers. Comical, endearing, and, mildly unsettling. Bravo, SITE.

Santa Fe Clay

Santa Fe Clay

If observing isn’t enough for your artistic endeavors, there is no finer way to get your hands dirty than with a visit to Santa Fe Clay.  This is a dream facility for diehard DIY-ers, or anyone craving an enlightening hands-on experience. At a sprawling 10,000 square feet, the fantastic space offers endless hours of creativity via its gallery, artist studios, retail store, wheels and kilns, and massive workshop and teaching space with expert staff. Santa Fe Clay hosts classes year-round for adults and children, and exhibits some of the finest clay artists working in the medium today. I’m not talking pinch pots and light switch covers here. Santa Fe Clay is a dynamic, forward thinking studio. Inspired by the shelves of creations set out to dry, the fresh-out-of-the-kiln pots, and the sheer joy on the faces of workshop participants, I have officially pledged to get my clay groove on.

Railyard Artisan Market

Local paintings at the Artisans Market

Saturdays and Sundays bring the Santa Fe Artists Market and the Railyard Artisan Market. Prepare to be surprised. Housed alongside the east walkway of SITE Santa Fe on Saturdays or inside the Farmers Market Pavilion on Sundays, the respected markets boast fine handmade crafts and artworks ranging from knitted scarves and hats to watercolor landscapes to artisanal teas and body products. My credit card limit flashed before my eyes as I beheld a gasp-worthy selection of fun retro aprons, imported clothing from India, felt handbags, hand blown glassware, and a virtual trove of jewelry. Pick up one-of-a-kind gifts here, or self-gifts — my favorites. Several crafters work while you stroll, offering unfiltered glimpses of their works-in-progress.

Farmers Market

Fresh greens at Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

Perhaps the unifying event in the Railyard is the renowned Farmers Market. This market prides itself on strict standards requiring that all food and products be made with local ingredients, and prohibiting reselling. That means you buy directly from the source. I love the idea of paying the farmer who grew my food. The market is alive with energy, color, and happy shoppers. Fresh breads, seasonal herbs, overflowing baskets of greens and veggies, free range eggs, aromatic fresh and dried chiles, local honey and jams, luxurious body products, organic coffee, and homemade tamales transform moods and test your bliss-endurance. Meanwhile, strolling musicians and kid friendly activities keep young shoppers smiling. The market is open 8 am-1pm Saturdays (year-round) and Tuesdays (May through Thanksgiving week). June-September the hours shift forward an hour: 7 am-noon.

Beyond the food scene, a true feeling of community pervades this burgeoning creative space. Whether you want to swing dance or catch a reggae band, see a thought-provoking film, visit with neighbors over coffee and burritos, even witness a dynamic aerial acrobatic performance held right on site, all you need to do is show up. Check the jam-packed schedule on the Santa Fe Railyard District website for information. Or take my advice and gather your friends for the Free Railyard Park Movie Series, which features movies every other Friday night all summer. Meet me at “The Princess Bride” July 27 or “… prepare to die!

Balancing history, authenticity, adventure, art, food, and performance, the Santa Fe Railyard District sparkles with timeless appeal and youthful. Find your favorite stop, as you get on board with a cultural treasure that is definitely moving in the right direction.

Santa Fe Arts Neighborhoods Elevate Art Appreciation

If your heart beats for the arts, then plan an escape to Santa Fe. With a vibrant and growing gallery scene, Santa Fe has become one of the world’s major arts centers without sacrificing its small town warmth. The art-tropolis of Santa Fe is divided into neighborhoods, making it easy for you to jump from gallery to gallery. Lovers of all genres and movements — from contemporary and abstract, to super realism and Western — will find something to love.

I asked Kathrine Erickson, president of the Santa Fe Gallery Association, what sets Santa Fe apart. “Santa Fe is the only city in the world that can boast over 200 galleries in two square miles,” she said. “Art collectors can travel to biennial art fairs in Berlin, Miami, New York, or they can come to Santa Fe 365 days a year to experience our unique year-round art fair, and view an unlimited selection of artwork by international and regional artists alike.”

Santa Fe’s rise as an art market can be traced back to the opening years of the 20th century, when artists began to discover the charm of the landscape and the beauty of the native people’s craftsmanship. By the time the Museum of New Mexico opened its Museum of Fine Arts in 1917, there was no stopping the love affair between artists and Santa Fe — a love that has blossomed into a full fledged city of the arts, with creativity, craftsmanship, and individual expression pretty much everywhere you look.

With so much to see where does one start? Katherine prudently advises you start with “ … comfortable shoes, dressing in layers, and a good handbag.” She also recommends the guides found on the Gallery Association’s website. Karla Winterowd, owner of Winterowd Fine Art Gallery on Canyon Road, says that a Santa Fe art excursion is an awakening experience for a first time art collector. “If you are a first time buyer of art, truly, Santa Fe is the place to come because you can walk around, take a couple of days, and go with yourself, your partner, or your designer.

For those with a little more experience, you can discover new artists as well as new work from artists you might already be following. It’s an inspiring trip whether you are new to buying art, a savvy veteran collector, or just interested in seeing some amazing work.

And, of course, in-between visiting galleries and studios, you can experience some of Santa Fe’s other charms. Shop at unique specialty stores, eat at world-renowned restaurants, and enjoy the historic adobe architecture that defines Santa Fe. And if you need a lift, just take the free Santa Fe Pick-up shuttle. Art appreciation has never just been about acquiring, so enjoy the gorgeous downtime and culture.

The Never Ending Canyon Road Art Galleries

Canyon Road is a great place to start your visual arts voyage. This neighborhood is the bustling heart of the gallery scene with more than a hundred art galleries in a mile-long stretch. The Canyon Road galleries have a wide selection of modern, contemporary, Native American, and Russian art.

A stroll down the historic Canyon Road — the oldest adobe houses on Canyon Road date at least to the 1750s — leads you to unique fashions, sculptures, photography, dazzling Navajo jewelry, and stunning handmade embellishments. In the fall, I love watching artists at work at the gallery’s “paint outs.” Anytime I have winter visitors, one of their favorite experiences is walking the famous Christmas Eve Farolito Walk. For Santa Fe newbies, Farolitos are small, sand-filled, paper bags illuminated with votive candles, which line the historic neighborhood streets and adobe walls. The effect is nothing short of magical. Luckily, the picturesque beauty of Canyon Road can be enjoyed any season of the year.

Canyon Road in full effect – photo courtesy of Essential Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Railyard Arts Neighborhood

If your artistic tastes lead you to modern work, follow the tracks to the Railyard Arts District to find the best in contemporary art. This neighborhood houses 10 must-see galleries in new warehouse-style buildings. Besides avant-garde painting, you’ll also find jewelry, exquisite furnishings, textiles, and bamboo pieces. Go international with a visit to the Railyard’s standout gallery, SITE Santa Fe. SITE Santa Fe is a dynamic art space, featuring contemporary photography, painting, sculpture, installations, and its signature international exhibition. The last Friday of each month is the perfect time to stop by as the Railyard features Last Friday Art walks. Galleries hold opening exhibitions and stay open late. If you need a little energy during the course of your art appreciation, the Railyard’s Flying Star Cafe serves tasty plates and a menagerie of delicious baked goods.

Santa Fe Railyard District

West Palace Arts Neighborhood

Located between the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on West Palace Avenue and Johnson Street, the West Palace Arts Neighborhood has the best of both worlds: museums and galleries. Dive into the rich history of New Mexico’s art at the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Then head over to the galleries to work on your collection, or to just pretend like you’re a jet-setting art buyer.

The galleries here are outstanding. The LewAllen, Manitou, Peterson-Cody, and Wadle galleries combine to represent more than 350 nationally recognized artists. Plus, every first Friday of the month, the West Palace galleries offer an assortment of openings and exhibitions featuring the work of exceptional contemporary artists. A perfect opportunity for some high-culture mingling.

Manitou Gallery in the West Palace Art District

Studio Tours

Taking a studio tour provides an unforgettable way to see new work from a large section of artists. The Eldorado Arts and Crafts Association opens its studios May 18-19 for the Eldorado Studio Tour. 110 artists in 72 studios will showcase work in a variety of media and genres including painting, ceramic, glass, jewelry, oil, photography, printmaking, sculpture, digital, wearable, and recycled art. If you want to get a sneak peak of what’s going to be on the tour, the tour’s Preview Gallery will open for early viewing May 4-17.

Looking for a fun day trip in the fall? The first weekend in November, the Dixon Studios offers its annual studio tour. A 45-minute drive through the scenic Embudo Valley will bring you to Dixon, home sweet home to more than 50 artists. Walk from studio to studio while you enjoy the beautiful village and discover gorgeous paintings, outstanding photography, fine sculptural jewelry, stoneware, wearable art, herbal bath and beauty products, handmade chocolates, local wines, and traveling musicians. With so many studios and amazing pieces of art to choose from you’ll be glad you made the short trip – just make sure you clear some trunk space before you go. Some of the studios are open year-round, but call ahead before you hit the road.

Your Art Is Waiting for You

Santa Fe has a huge crush on the visual arts, and a massive appreciation for visitors who share that passion. If this preview has you eager to explore, as Karla recommended, The Santa Fe Gallery Association is a handy resource for learning about the galleries before you arrive. The Association’s website lists upcoming events and maps to help you plot your own individualized tour based on your tastes.

Katherine also has a one final tip for a perfect ending to any art-filled day. “Be sure to scope out your restaurant selections in advance and make reservations when possible — especially during the busy summer months. There are many great restaurants to choose from, and after a long day of gallery hopping you want to reward yourself with an equally artful meal.”

With so many artists, galleries, and opportunities to explore this amazing city, your new favorite piece of art is sure to be waiting for you in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Breakfast Trail

BREAKFAST RULES

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito from Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times – from doctors, fitness experts, and, most emphatically, from mom.

Well take heart, mom, Santa Fe, New Mexico not only has recognized the importance of breakfast, we’ve elevated it to a culinary art form. From the vibrant presentation, often featuring red or green chile (or both if you’re a commitment-phobe like me) to the intoxicating aromas, to the savory international culinary combinations, to the hearty comfort foods, breakfast in Santa Fe is a delightful wake-up call for the senses. And in a city already famous for inventive southwestern and global cuisine, breakfast in Santa Fe commands the kind of fan-worship usually reserved for only for the rarest of rock stars.

Tía Sophia’s – Freshly Made Huevos Rancheros

“We pride ourselves on being consistent, efficient, and friendly,” explains Nick Maryol, a proud member of the family locally famous for establishing and operating Tía Sophia’s, Santa Fe’s venerated breakfast icon, located just steps from our historic plaza. “We serve comidas nativas (local food) and that is a formula from which we’ll never stray.” Sounds good to me. And looking down on my plate of huevos rancheros, freshly made moments before, I try to restrain the urge to dig in, and take a moment to admire the rustic artistry of the lightly toasted flour tortilla, the fiery temptation of the chile, the plumpness of the local beans. Then I dig in. Breakfast heaven.

Santa Fe Baking Company – Masters of the Breakfast Burrito

Blue Corn Pancakes from Santa Fe Baking Company

Up the road just a few blocks, Santa Fe Baking Company masters the art of the breakfast burrito with modern flair. Updating Santa Fe’s classic breakfast staple, the bustling café offers farm-fresh local vegetables and tofu as burrito options. Color me skeptical. One bite of the popular black bean and tofu burrito, however, and I’m officially a convert. Santa Fe Baking Company is that comfy, reliable, everything’s-gonna-be-alright kind of breakfast spot–one that locals and visitors adore for its authentic flavors, friendly service, hearty portions, and quirky personality.

Tecolote Café – Santa Fe’s Best-Kept Breakfast Secret

Huevos Rancheros from Tecolote Cafe. Photo Courtesy of Steve Collins: Santa Fe Travelers

The Food Network’s popular Diners Drive-ins and Dives may have officially blown the lid off Santa Fe’s best-kept breakfast secret, Tecolote Café. Up until then, we locals were quite content to keep the divine biscuits, huevos, chile, and pancakes all to ourselves–and it’s easy to taste why. This Cerrillos Road standby serves up inventive interpretations of Santa Fe’s traditional breakfast staples. The revered Blue Corn Piñon Pancakes, for example, are a feast for the eyes and the taste buds–combining the good-morning comfort of a fluffy blue corn cake with the nutty goodness of New Mexico piñon seeds. Top with real maple syrup, and prepare for breakfast bliss. Word to the wise, when it comes to Tecolote come early. This popular breakfast landmark gets hoppin’.

The Pantry – Delectable Stuffed Pancakes and Satisfying Carne Adovada

Travel just blocks south on Cerrillos to be transported back in time to a classic Route-66 Santa Fe diner, the Pantry. Here, patrons enjoy traditional favorites like huevos rancheros, burritos, and oatmeal, along with made-to-order specialties including tempting Stuffed Pancakes (as outrageously delicious as they sound) and French Toast. Cross the border into serious breakfast territory by turning to the New Mexico Breakfasts section of the Pantry’s well-worn menu. Here, generations of sleepy-eyed diners have kick started their day with what is arguably Santa Fe’s most satisfying Carne Adovada–a local specialty of red chile marinated pork slow-stewed ‘til tender. Enjoy the Pantry’s famous Carne Adovada in a chile-topped burrito, or with their seriously addictive breakfast potatoes.

Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen – Natural Food and Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly

Quality organic ingredients, inventive cooking, soothing ambience, and local art combine to make relative newcomer Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen a bounty of breakfast goodness. Tucked into a rustic adobe farmhouse-style locale on Pacheco Street, Sweetwater satisfies cravings for natural food and soothing vibes. Here vegan and vegetarian selections like Buckwheat Pancakes, artfully made with organic buckwheat flour, delight planet-conscious patrons. I still dream about the Mediterranean Breakfast Quinoa with dates, apricots and local honey. And my Sonoma Sunrise smoothie–a velvety blend of carrots, beets, kale, apple, and ginger made a natural foods believer out of me. Expect delightful surprises from a place that hand-mills its own flour, and infuses global flavor into fresh local ingredients.

Don’t Sleep In — Your Santa Fe Breakfast Is Ready

Suffice it to say, when it comes to dining in Santa Fe, you definitely don’t want to sleep in. From traditional to organic to everything in between, we’re keeping Santa Fe fueled with breakfasts that warm your spirits and nourish your taste for all things delicious.

Buenos Días my friend!

Santa Fe – Spring Must Do’s

Make the Most of Your Post–Hibernation this Spring in Santa Fe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abandon your cozy seat by the fire and finish up your gourmet hot chocolate, because spring has arrived in the City Different! It’s time to go out, get active, and explore more of what makes Santa Fe so magical. Let the city’s creative spirit awaken yours from hibernation and explore the rich traditions of Santa Fe’s many cultures. Here are some ways to make the most out of a springtime trip to this wondrous and surprising city.

DIY Month

At a modest size of 37.4 square miles, and internationally recognized as a premier art market, Santa Fe packs in more creativity per square foot than anywhere else in the country. Get inspired by more than 250 art galleries, museums, and centers, and five art schools.

You’ll need those creative juices flowing as Santa Fe celebrates DIY Month in March, a creative tourism journey that gives you the chance to spend all or part of a trip taking workshops from experienced artists and artisans. It’s okay if you’re not an O’Keeffe. Classes cater to all artistic explorers, from beginners to aficionados. Fulfill a dream, refine a skill, or fall into something completely different. Want to tap into your inner artist? Take an expressive painting workshop with artist Cathy Carey. In this five-day class, limited to a small enrollment, you’ll learn techniques to loosen up your drawing and painting, capturing the feeling and fluid movement of Matisse and Van Gogh, and build a new connection to your work.

The Land and Light photography workshop teaches you the skills you’ll need to capture the majesty of Santa Fe with a lens. Walk this enchanted land with photographer Craig Varjabedian, photographing unique environments in an atmosphere of adventure and discovery. It’s a great way to explore the diverse culture, architecture, and landscape of northern New Mexico while upping your shutterbug game.

Personally, I can’t wait for the Glass Ristra workshop, a luxurious creative workshop brought to you by Bridges to Santa Fe. Held in a gorgeous home gallery, you assemble your own red, green, or Christmas glass ristra, while dining on red and green chile appetizers served on artisan-rendered glass platters.

That’s just a small sampling of the exciting do-it-yourself offerings. Transforming photographs with beeswax, traditional tinwork, Japanese papermaking, spinning wool, and many more possibilities await.

Bead Fest Santa Fe

Align the do-it-yourself spirit with do-it-for-yourself results at Bead Fest Santa Fe. Perfectly suited for both jewelry making novices and experts, Bead Fest is four days of discovering the latest techniques, tools, and tips. Take one of the 95 different workshops offered by jewelry artists from around the country, or shop at more than 150 booths and tables with everything you need to craft your own amazing creations. I’ll be going to behold the beautiful work on display, and, just maybe, end up with an amazing piece of my own design.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Photo: Rosalie O’Connor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all that making and creating, make sure you’re getting a balanced cultural intake. Along with the visual arts, Santa Fe is also a vibrant city of the performing arts. At the end of March, you can catch the dual-city Aspen Santa Fe Ballet as they return home for a program featuring Jiri Kylián’s poignant Return to a Strange Land, Alejandro Cerrudo’s striking new ballet Last, and Trey McIntyre’s seductive Like a Samba. Not sure if ballet is for you? Give this group a chance. Just don’t be surprised if you spend the entire performance at the edge of your seat. I asked ASFB’s director of marketing Jennica Lundin about the upcoming shows. “It’s not traditional ballet but way more contemporary,” said Jessica. She also told me that two of the three pieces would be performed on pointe, where the dancers perform entirely on their tiptoes. “Performing on pointe shows that our dancers’ technique is rooted in classical style.”

Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival

Go from nimble dancers to nimble swordsmen at the sixth Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival. Nothing feeds creativity like knowledge and experience, and I can’t think of a more exciting mental meal than a large serving of Samurai culture. Witness master swordsmen demonstrating their skills, Taiko drumming from Grammy winner Koji Nakamura, and a Grand Samurai Performance from Japan’s Nobuyuki Sato. You can also feast on Japanese food (yum), enjoy workshops (this city is workshop crazy), a silent auction, and – you guessed it – arts and crafts. It wouldn’t be a Santa Fe event if it didn’t involve creating something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Fe in Bloom

All of this culture can wear a person out. Make sure you leave yourself some time to enjoy and relax in Santa Fe’s natural beauty. Spring is a time when the outdoor world of Santa Fe turns into a collage of blooming plants. Why not try out some of those newly acquired photography skills on the blooming Aspens, tulips, poppies, and more. If you want a peek at some gorgeous gardens, the Santa Fe Garden Club is offering Pequeno Tours, private tours of some of Santa Fe’s finest homes and gardens. The Pequeno Tours start in mid-April and with spring temperatures in the 50s and 60s and plenty of sunshine, being outside in the fresh air of Santa Fe — named cleanest in the country by the American Lung Association — just feels great.

Start your Creative Season

Spring in Santa Fe is truly an inspiring time. Whether you want to jumpstart your own artistic renaissance or just recharge, there’s more than enough to wake your sense of adventure from its winter slumber. With all the opportunities to create and explore, there’s no time like spring to experience all the creative energy, diverse culture, and natural beauty that Santa Fe has to offer.

Can’t-Miss Santa Fe Winter Experiences

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”  – John Steinbeck

While many towns lull into hibernation during the winter months, Santa Fe vibrates with life. Picturesque snowdrifts blanket adobe walls. Laughter and conversation surround crackling kiva fireplaces. The spicy aromas of piñon and cedar permeate the air. Deep relaxing pueblo drumming echoes northern New Mexico. And flavorful pots of posole and green chile stew transport you back to grandma’s cozy kitchen. Food & Wine proclaims, “Winter is the perfect time to explore Santa Fe and discover all of its wondrous offerings.” We locals couldn’t agree more!

Winter in The City Different is, well, different. In a city blessed with a gorgeous array of winter scenery, you’ll often find lunchtime temperatures 30 degrees warmer than our crisp mornings, and sunshine during a snowfall is not uncommon. Few things match the sublime sight of light rays dancing between giant snowflakes.

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Santa Fe Travelers: Search for the Perfect Santa Fe Breakfast Burrito

Green chile breakfast burrito from Tia Sophia’s; photo credit/Art Wolf

For blogger and local Santa Fean Billie Frank, choosing what to eat for breakfast is easy – a delicious breakfast burrito. The difficult, and often complicated task, is choosing where to get it. As a result, Billie took to the streets in search of the perfect Santa Fe breakfast burrito.

There’s nothing like a Northern New Mexico breakfast burrito. They are my Santa Fe breakfast of choice- a symphony of eggs, potatoes, cheese and for meat eaters, the decision between bacon and chorizo. Then comes the really big choice; red, green or Christmas. If you’re not from these parts, that’s the chile you want in or on top of your burrito. A request for Christmas gets you a mix of red and green. But it wasn’t always what I ate. When I first arrived here, I was a traditional American breakfast lover. I didn’t like it hot. It took a while before I took the plunge and I’m so glad I did. Here’s the story of my search for the perfect Santa Fe breakfast burrito.

Read Santa Fe Travelers’ full article and find out where you can find the best breakfast burritos in Santa Fe. To learn more about Santa Fe restaurants, visit http://www.santafe.org.

 

PARTY ON IN PEACE: Celebrating the 300th Anniversary of Fiesta de Santa Fe.

If there’s one tradition that captures the vibrant spirit of Santa Fe, it’s our city’s annual celebration, La Fiesta de Santa Fe–a colorful, historic feast unlike anything you’ve experienced. With parades, dancing, concerts, and a 30-foot effigyof gloom built every year just to be burned to the ground, La Fiesta de Santa Fe is truly a feast for all the senses.

As thousands of fiesta-goers who return year-after-year will attest, celebrating Santa Fe style means more than just revelry. Legendary food, music and the pageantry of 300 year traditions provide the perfect celebration.  Crowds discover and rediscover a bounty of authentic local cuisine and regional wines at gourmet restaurants and traditional food booths lining the Plaza. Streets spill over with music, parades and cries of “Viva la Fiesta,” with festivities pausing only for a majestic, time-honored Catholic ceremony.

Ask any local, and you’ll discover that Fiesta de Santa Fe has a special place in the hearts of Santa Feans. Beyond its fun and pageantry, it offers a unique blend of ancient culture, modern art, and longstanding community traditions.  ¡Viva La Fiesta!

A Celebration of Peace

With a name that means “holy faith” in Spanish, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that there’s a lot of Spanish colonial heritage in Santa Fe. In fact, Santa Fe was considered the capital city even when New Mexico was still the “Kingdom of New Mexico” under the rule of the King of Spain. La Fiesta de Santa Fe is a celebration created by the conquistadors who helped establish colonies here.

It might be hard to get excited about celebrating colonialism in the Twenty First Century, but Fiesta de Santa Fe has survived since 1912 because it was never a celebration of Spanish conquest. La Fiesta de Santa Fe has survived so long because it celebrates cultures coming together in peace. After years of conflict between colonists and native tribes, Don Diego de Vargas successfully re-occupied Santa Fe without conflict or bloodshed. It was such a profound step toward peaceful coexistence that De Vargas attributed it to divine intervention and insisted that a feast be held in reverence of the Virgin Mary.

Conflicts did not completely disappear, but the tradition of celebrating a peaceful marriage of differing cultures remained, an attitude that characterizes Santa Fe even today. Visitors can celebrate culture and history by retracing the actual steps of the city’s ancestors through the center of town, or by joining a candlelight procession on the last day of the Fiesta.

A Celebration of Art

In 1924, before Burning Man, and comparatively new to the rest of Fiesta celebrations, the burning of Zozobra began as a creation by artist William Shuster. A member of a group known around town as Los Cincos Pintores (the five painters), Shuster was among the first Anglo artists to discover Santa Fe’s unspoiled beauty and natural splendor. By then, La Fiesta de Santa Fe was over two hundred years old and had seen better days.

Not content to let the tradition die, Will Shuster and several of his friends hatched a plot to stage a fiesta of their own in an empty lot behind City Hall. Shuster adapted a tradition with roots in Roman Catholicism as well as the cultural ceremonies of the Yaqui Indians to create a huge marionette personification of gloom that would be burned into cinders.

This year Fiesta de Santa Fe celebrates its 300th anniversary, proving that partying in peace can be a lasting tradition. So join Santa Fe in watching your troubles and gloom go up in smoke. “Viva La Fiesta”!

Fiesta De Santa Fe Events: September 5-9, 2012

September 5

Concierto de Mariachi: 10am – 12pm & 2pm – 4pm at the Lensic Performing Art Center
Historical Fiesta Lecture:  6pm – 7:30 September 5 at the New Mexico History Museum

September 6

Burning of Zozobra: 3pm – 11pm  at Fort Marcy Park

September 7

Pregon de la Fiesta: 6am – 7am at Rosario Chapel
Fiesta Fine Art and Craft Market: 9am – 5pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Food Booths: 9am – 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Bandstand on the Plaza: 10am – 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Official Opening of the Fiesta: 12pm – 12:30pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas: 2pm – 3pm at the Santa Fe Plaza

September 8

Desfile de Los Ninos (The Pet Parade): 9am – 10:45am Downtown Santa Fe
Bandstand on the Plaza: 10:45am – 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
La Merienda (The Fashion Show): 3pm – 5pm at the James A. Little Theater
Gran Baile: 7:30pm at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center

 September 9

Solemn Procession: 9:30am – 10am at the Palace of the Governors
Pontifical Mass: 10am – 11:15am at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Bandstand on the Plaza: 11am- 5pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Desfile de la Gente Historical Parade: 12:30pm – 3 pm Downtown Santa Fe
Closing Ceremonies: 5:15pm – 5:30pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Mass of Thanksgiving and Candlelight Procession: 7pm – 9pm at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Find more ways and reasons to celebrate in Santa Fe here!