Photo Curtesy – Lex Python with John Fullbright Studio
Christmas celebrations begin early this year, with the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree on Taos Plaza after Thanksgiving.
Other pre-Christmas events are
Holiday High Tea
The Turquoise Teapot is located at 605 Camino De La Placita. Tel: (575) 737-0419
The Turquoise Teapot, the only tea house in the town of Taos, is an English-style tea shop and gallery with a fabulous assortment of teas. Every year the owners serve a holiday high tea on December 4th. “We do a special buffet with season fare that includes Christmas sandwiches, truffles and cakes,” said Kathleen Smith, one of the proprietresses. “We also have live music (a wonderful harpist) and holiday wreaths.” Reservations are accepted for seating at 12 noon and at 2:30 p.m.
Las Posadas (Spanish for “the inns”)
San Francisco de Asís Church is located at 60 St Francis Plaza, Rancho de Taos
Tel: (575) 751-0518
The nine days before Christmas, taoseños reenact the holy family’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. A well known posada starts in San Francisco de Asís church, in Rancho de Taos. The peregrinos (pilgrims) sing traditional songs as they go to different houses and are turned away… until they finally find a “posada” in one of them and everybody is invited to come in and celebrate. There are other posadas going on around town, in churches as well as in private homes.
Lighting of Ledoux
It takes place on December 11th, a Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For many taoseños and visitors alike, this is the kick off of the Christmas season. Lots of people who haven’t seen each other during the year get together that day to catch up and chit-chat. It all started as a “neighborly” function for the street, around sixteen years ago, but now it is an official event sponsored by the town. The neighbors bring out the luminarias (sand-filled paper bags with a votive candle inside) and the whole street gets lined up with them. “We start lighting them around three-thirty,” said Shaun Richel, owner of 203 Fine Art. “By four-thirty, the whole street will be lit up and people begin to stroll down.” All the businesses open their doors and cookies and punch are offered to the visitors. “But then it lingers on after everybody leaves… at eight p.m. the lanterns are still on and it’s so peaceful,” Richel said. “Some places have bonfires. Last year we even had roasted marshmallows.”
Harwood Museum of Art Celebrations
Located at 238 Ledoux Street. Tel: (575) 758-1475
On the same day that Lighting of Ledoux takes place, December 11th, the public is invited to visit The Harwood Museum of Art for the official opening of its 10,700 square-foot expansion. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony, live music and performances. Graham’s Grille will provide food and refreshments. An exhibition by Taos Modern Artists Bea Mandelman and Louis Ribak, for whom the major new gallery is named, will be on display. “We represent the estate of Mandelman-Ribak,” said Richel. “The big exhibit will be at the museum but we also have lots of printings and drawings for sale here, at 203 Fine Art.”
There is another special Christmas event for music lovers at the Harwood, “A Classical Holiday,” that will take place on December 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Arthur Bell Auditorium. Taos Chamber Music Group celebrates the holiday season with a program of music from the 18th and early 19th centuries. Tickets are $18 in advance; $20 at the door and $10 for children under 16.
A Skier’s Snowy Paradise
Taos Ski Valley offers a variety of activities for all ages and tastes. Celebrations up there begin with the Brewmasters Festival on December 18th from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Though not a Christmas activity as such, it is definitely a fun event… for those twenty-one and over. It takes place in Tenderfoot Katie’s and the Martini Tree. Admission is $25 and the fee includes souvenir sampling glass, good food and great entertainment. Come and sample beers from twenty-five breweries from across the southwest region!
Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade
Friday, December the 24th
Visitors gather in the base area at 6 p.m, when it’s already dark, to watch as skiers make their way down the mountain with flares as their only means of light. “You have to get here early to get a good spot,” said Heather Cleary, who works at The Boot Doctors, in the Ski Valley. “It’s spectacular. I wouldn’t try it, but I give the skiers kudos for doing it.”
New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks
Friday, December 31st
It all starts at the base of lift #1 at 6:00 p.m. Watch a torchlight parade and fireworks display and follow it with the countdown to the New Year in the Martini Tree Bar. Welcome the New Year with fireworks and music while the mountain sings its winter song!
Christmas Eve at Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo is located 2 miles north of Taos
120 Veterans Highway, Taos – (575) 758-1028
First, bundle up before you go! The air will be frosted and it may snow that night. When the sun gets down, small bonfires are built near the San Geronimo church (there is no electricity in the pueblo) while people wait for the procession to start. The celebration begins with a dance, Los Matachines, in which El Toro, la Malinche and los Abuelos, in elaborate costumes, reenact one of the oldest ritual dramas in northern New Mexico. When it finishes, the firing of guns marks the start of the procession. The statue of Virgin Mary is taken out of the church, followed by the dancers, musicians and the crowd, and paraded around the plaza. As darkness increases, more families lit their own bonfires which are around twenty feet high. You watch the bonfires burn down, feel the heat of the flames, smell the aroma of the piñón… “It is close to how it should have been hundreds of years ago,” said Dr. Mike Adler, Executive Director of SMU-in-Taos. “To me, as an archeologist, it’s very special to see rituals like this one.”
You can enjoy luminaria displays in many other streets and try bizcochitos (spicy, anise-flavored cookies) all over town. Christmas in Taos is a flavorful, colorful and light-filled holiday. Just remember to keep your feet warm when Christmasing around.