Legendary Classics in Santa Fe: World-Class Operas & Vintage Volkswagens

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Santa Fe County offers an exhilarating blend of art and culture all year long, and the summer season brings a feast of world-class opera and a fiesta devoted to classic Volkswagen vehicles, both set against a regal backdrop of rolling hills, majestic mountains and brilliant turquoise skies.

The inaugural New Mexico VW Fiesta pulls into the historic Madrid ballpark June 1-3, showcasing some of the world’s most beloved vintage vehicles. Then, the renowned Santa Fe Opera celebrates its 62nd season June 29-August 25, with an exciting schedule of open-air performances rivaled only by the venue’s dramatic sunset views. No other place but Santa Fe pairs the thrilling theatrics of opera with the joys of some of the most iconic vehicles in America.

New Mexico VW Fiesta

Vintage Volkswagens will be descending on the town of Madrid for the inaugural New Mexico VW Fiesta, June 1-3, 2018. (Photo Courtesy of Santa Fe County)

If you’ve ever owned a vintage Volkswagen vehicle, then you know the unbreakable bonds that can form between these cars and their drivers. From the original Beetle to the Karmann Ghia, Westfalia Camper, Dune Buggy, the downright funky Thing and other distinctive models, VW vehicles can inspire reverence. Volkswagens have been sold in the U.S. since 1949, not long after the company was founded in Germany in 1937. By 1955, more than 1 million Volkswagen ladybug-like Beetles were riding American roads and in 1972, sales surpassed 15 million, breaking the world production record held by the Ford Model T.

Get up close and view VW vehicles of many makes and models during the New Mexico VW Fiesta. (Photo Courtesy of Santa Fe County)

With this fabled history, you can expect a grand gathering of vintage VWs, as well as admirers, at the inaugural New Mexico VW Fiesta, presented by The Route 66 Aircooled VW Club. It’s only fitting that a celebration of vintage cars takes place in Madrid’s old-time Oscar Huber Memorial Ball Park, built in 1920 and recently restored. The first lighted ballpark west of the Mississippi, it was home to the Miners, a pennant-winning team of employees who toiled in the town’s coal mines.

After you get your Volkswagen fix, head out to explore the town of Madrid and other parts of Santa Fe County on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. (Photo Courtesy of Santa Fe County)

When you’re not viewing classic VW cars, head out and explore Madrid, a historic mining town located on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. After the mines shut down, Madrid became a ghost town, but it’s been resurrected as a vibrant, creative community featuring art galleries, shops and restaurants. A few miles north, you can visit the village of Cerrillos, where a state park offers hiking trails and horseback riding.

Santa Fe Opera 62nd Season

Patrons take their seats in the Santa Fe Opera’s Crosby Theater. (Photo Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera)

For music that stirs your soul, spend an evening at the Santa Fe Opera, one of the world’s acclaimed summer opera festivals. Perched atop a mesa, surrounded by magnificent vistas, the theater is covered but its sides are open to views as dramatic as the performance on the stage within. Since the founding of the Santa Fe Opera in 1957, more than 160 different operas have been performed here, including 14 world premieres and 45 American premieres. Gifted young singers from around the world join the casts, along with international directors, conductors and other members of the production team who converge in Santa Fe each summer.

The dramatic scenes are both onstage and in the sunset sky views beyond the wings of the Santa Fe Opera venue. (Photo Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera)

The 2018 season opens with the company premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s 20th-century opera “Candide,” in honor of the American composer’s 100th birthday. Other productions include Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” the very first opera presented in the Santa Fe Opera’s inaugural season. “Doctor Atomic,” by John Adams and Peter Sellars, marks its third Santa Fe production, an exploration of the Atomic Age that began with the detonation of the first atomic bomb in the southern New Mexico desert in 1945. Also this season you can enjoy the company’s revival of Rossini’s “The Italian Girl in Algiers” and Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos,” which for the first time in nearly twenty years returns with a new production.

Pre-show tailgating is a beloved tradition at the Santa Fe Opera. (Photo Courtesy of the Santa Fe Opera)

One of the best-loved Santa Fe Opera traditions takes place in the parking lot, where opera-goers gather to tailgate and take in the scenic views before each performance begins. Dressed in evening gowns and tuxes as well as jeans, cowboy boots and hats, they dine on everything from homemade sandwiches and salads in the back of a pick-up truck to elegant multi-course catered meals served on linen-covered tables topped with silverware and candelabras. You might even spot a classic Volkswagen or two, loaded with tailgate fare.

Now that you have the schedule for two of this season’s inspiring events, be sure to include them in your Santa Fe getaway. You’ll definitely leave with a song in your heart and a new or renewed appreciation for a legendary classic. Find the other essentials for your Santa Fe getaway 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.

This blog was written in partnership with TOURISM Santa Fe and Santa Fe County.

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