Poor Bing Crosby! He clearly never spent his holidays in Santa Fe. If he had, he probably would have never crooned “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” After all, who wants to be home when Santa Fe strikes the pitch-perfect note throughout the holidays? From the church bells tolling in the background on November 28 when Santa Fe’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony ignites holiday spirits to the a capella carolers traipsing up and down Canyon Road on Christmas Eve, there’s a beautiful season rich in song and historic celebration to discover in the City Different!
Deck the [Palace] Halls
Strike the right holiday note with your little elves by bringing them to the Palace of the Governors, decked out in piñatas and live music for Christmas at the Palace, December 12 at 5:30 p.m. Free, fun family activities include operating the antique printing press and with hot cider and cookies on tap. This is one party you’ll want to attend! Be sure to follow up another day with a visit to the New Mexico History Museum to see Gustave Baumann and Friends: Artist Cards from Holidays Past, an exhibit of festive cards created by New Mexico’s most renowned artists.
Strolling back to the Plaza a mere two days later on December 14 is a must. At 5:30 p.m. it’s time for Las Posadas, an annual re-enactment of the Holy Family’s search for lodging. A loyal coterie of volunteers braves winter’s chill to circle the Plaza in a candle-lit procession as devils pop out to menace the seekers at each stop. When shelter is found and evil is vanquished, everyone heads to the Palace of the Governors’ courtyard to warm up, sip cider and sing carols around a cozy bonfire.
Anything But Silent Nights
Musically speaking, Santa Fe makes the holidays sparkle. On December 14 at 4:00 p.m., the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus welcomes guest conductor Jason Altieri to the Lensic for a romp through favorites from White Christmas to Brazilian Sleigh Bells. I suspect you’ll be tempted to hum along with a carol or two! Want to sing, not hum? Return to the Lensic December 15 at 7:00 p.m. when Greg Heltman, founder/general director of the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus, takes the podium to conduct the Santa Fe Concert Band in a rousing annual Christmas Concert. And the audience is always invited to sing along!
The glorious sounds of the Santa Fe Desert Chorale’s Carols and Lullabies concerts reach perfect heights December 16 and December 18-20 at 8:00 p.m. in the inspirational setting of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. If you can’t wait that long, your best bet is the Chorale’s Winter Festival benefit opener, Christmas + Cabaret : The Lighter Side of Christmas, December 9 at the Inn and Spa at Loretto. And those who love a happy ending should complete the year with Ending and Beginnings: Chilling with Voasis, the eight-voice a cappella jazz/pop ensemble performing December 27 through New Year’s Eve at the Lodge at Santa Fe.
Another magical Santa Fe backdrop has been the holiday home of Santa Fe Pro Musica for ages. Pro Musica’s Baroque Christmas is beloved by locals (read: sell-out) and no wonder. As candles flicker on the altar of the rococo Loretto Chapel, authentic baroque instruments ring out their holiday best twice nightly, at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., from December 19 through December 24. And of course, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Nutcracker, dancing across the Lensic stage on December 20 and 21!
Dashing Through the Snow. . . And the Lights, too
While touring Christmas lights is a tradition everywhere, the experience is totally unique in Santa Fe. After all, how many towns commit hours of preparation to creating an awe-inspiring display for just one night? I’m referring to the annual Christmas Eve Farolito Walk that leads you from the Santa Fe Plaza to the surrounding historic neighborhoods. Bundle up the gang to see brown paper bags achieve signature status as they turn into farolitos with the addition of sand and a votive candle. Left burning all night long, these humble holiday lights signify lighting the way for the Christ Child. Regardless of your religious persuasion, the beauty is universal.
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas in Santa Fe. . .
Or a Feliz Navidad. Or sing Joy to the World. Whatever your tune, I’m certain you won’t be singing old Bing, wishing you’d were Home for Christmas. Turn your own holiday into a Santa Fe get-together getaway and a holiday soundtrack you’ll want to repeat for years to come.