Museum of New Mexico Media Center Press Release

Let New Mexico Museums Build Your Santa Fe Holiday Tradition

New Mexico CulturePass

October 06, 2010


Santa Feans know how to do traditions right—from annual markets in the plaza to religious processionals to the Native artisans who gather each day at the Palace Portal. Come holiday time, few cities can hold a farolito* to the City Different. This year, delight your family by adding these traditions to your celebrations.

The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, 113 Lincoln Ave., has spent a quarter-century building its Holidays at the Palace weekend into a community favorite. The free events begin with Christmas at the Palace, from 5-8 pm on Dec. 10. Enjoy hot cider and biscochitos, live music, storytellers, and a little quality time with Santa in the Palace Courtyard. Come for the cookies, warm your hands at a bonfire, and revel in the beauty of the Tesoros de Devoción exhibit while local performers fill the nation’s oldest continuously occupied building with their music.

At 5:30 pm on Dec. 12, the annual Las Posadas celebration begins on the Santa Fe Plaza. Though rooted in Catholic tradition, the procession welcomes everyone to join in as actors playing Joseph and Mary search for an inn. (If you failed to make advance reservations at a hotel during the holiday season, you’ll understand their pain.) The event ends in the Palace Courtyard with refreshments and carols.

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Every year, the New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 West Palace Ave., lets you pull a switch on Santa by snapping pics of him sitting on your lap. The free Holiday Open House, 1–4 pm on Dec. 19, stars the extraordinary hand-carved marionettes of famed artist Gustave Baumann, a Santa Fe arts legend. The historic marionettes perform two short plays for children of all ages. Children can sit close to the stage for an up-close experience with the magical Juan and Rosina, Miguelito, the burro, and of course, Warts, the rascally duende with a heart of gold. A children’s treasure hunt will find Freckles, his twin brother, hiding in the museum galleries. Enjoy a photo opp with Baumann’s Santa Claus marionette on your lap.

Families enjoy an arts-and-crafts project, making take-home puppet characters. Holiday music fills the air, and refreshments are served.

If you’re lucky, a sprinkling of snow will outline the adobe curves and rooflines of the museum, a 1917 building that put the architectural stamp on “Santa Fe Style” and, today, serves as an iconic anchor of the historic plaza.

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Travel up to Museum Hill, where the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture join together each year for Winter Fest. This year, the event takes place from 1-4 pm on Dec. 5, with hands-on arts-and-crafts activities, music, refreshments, and a puppet show.

In addition to enjoying Winter Fest, you can check out what’s new in Lloyd’s Treasure Chest at the Folk Art Museum, 706 Camino Lejo, which features objects highlighting winter holidays—Christmas, Chanukah, and other celebrations around the world. Set in the basement of the museum’s Neutrogena Wing, this open-storage gallery lets visitors get closer than usual to objects and gives them a behind-the-scenes peek at how museums store and care for collections.

The museum recently reopened its famed Girard Wing, packed with handmade artifacts that always delight children. With its new lighting, the collection reveals something new among what was always there.

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Across Milner Plaza stands the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, 710 Camino Lejo, the place to check for Native dances and music during Winter Fest, along with a visit to exhibits illuminating more than 10,000 years of the cultural history of Native inhabitants, whose rich living tradition can be experienced in the Here, Now, and Always exhibit. The colorful Huichol Art and Culture: Balancing the World has something for all ages to see and enjoy.

Come before Jan. 2, 2011, to see the special exhibit, Harry Fonseca: In the Silence of Dusk, featuring works from the ground-breaking Maidu (California) artist.

Need a break from all that fun? The newly opened Museum Hill Café offers everything from a pick-me-up snack to light gourmet fare. Hot mulled wine, anyone?

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*Farolito: Santa Fe’s term for the brown paper bags weighted with sand and illuminated by votive candles that traditionally line walkways on Christmas Eve. Known as luminarias pretty much everywhere but Santa Fe. (We don’t call it “the City Different” for nuthin’.)

(Download a high-res version of Jesse Nusbaum's classic 1912 photo of a snowy Santa Fe Plaza by clicking on "Go to related media," above left.) 

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