Taos Christmas Guide: posadas, processions and parades

The Lightning of Ledoux

This is a beloved annual tradition that welcomes in the holiday season. It will take place on December 10th, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Take a stroll and you will see farolitos and luminarias (sand-filled paper bags with a votive candle inside) while enjoying good music, food and entertainment. It’s a great way to explore the many galleries, shops and museums located along one ofTaos’ most charming and colorful streets. But bundle up, it gets chilly after dark!

The celebration includes “Santa@Harwood,” sponsored by the Harwood Museum. Kids will get presents in the Arthur Bell Auditorium and there will be other fun activities for the children in Fern Hogue Mitchell Education Center.

Las Posadas (“the inns” in Spanish)

This is a nine-day celebration of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the difficulties they encountered when trying to find shelter. Streets are ornamented with farolitos and every night the peregrinos (pilgrims) go from one house to another, accompanying Mary and Joseph. They knock on doors but are turned away with these verses:

Aquí no es mesón, 
sigan adelante.
Yo no debo abrir,
no sea algún tunante.

(This is not an inn 
so keep going. 
I cannot open, 
you may be a rogue.)

When they finally arrived to the house or chapel designated as La Posada, everybody is welcomed in while the ones inside sing:

¿Eres tú José? 
¿Tu esposa es María? 
Entren, peregrinos,
no los conocía.

(Are you Joseph? 
Is your wife Mary? 
Enter, pilgrims; 
I did not recognize you.)

Then they all are served local delicacies like tamales, chile, hot chocolate and maybe bizcochitos.

One of the best known posadas starts in San Francisco de Asís Church, in Rancho de Taos, but there are many others going on around town, in churches and private homes.

Procession of the Virgin and Christmas Eve at Taos Pueblo

The Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, celebrates Christmas Eve with bonfires and a procession. The celebration starts with the vespers, at sundown. After bonfires are built in the main plaza, a procession carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary under a canopy leaves the San Jeronimo chapel. The men shoot rifles into the air to salute the virgin’s arrival and the birth of Jesus. The procession is followed by dancers, musicians and the crowd, and the statue is paraded around the plaza.

Taos Pueblo celebrates Christmas with Los Matachines Dances, which are also performed on New Year’s Day.

Events at Taos Ski Valley

Enjoy the legendary Taos Mountain Experience!

Opening Day is November 24th. If you are a dedicated skier, it’s likely that you can celebrate a different Thanksgiving Day there.Taos Ski Valley will be operating from Thursday to Sunday through December 15 and the lifts will begin running at 9:00 a.m., weather permitting.

The Brew Master’s Festival will take place on December 7th. Bring your friends and sample beers from across the Southwest as well as great food from some ofTaos’ best restaurants. It will take place in Tenderfoot Katie’s Cafeteria and the Martini Tree Bar from 4:30 – 7:00 p.m., $25 entry fee. This is a 21 and over event.

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade, on December 24th, is a great way to kick off your Christmas Eve celebrations. It begins at 6:00 p.m. in the base area and spectators can watch as skiers make their way down the mountain in the dark with flares as their only means of light!

There is a second torchlight on New Year’s Eve that includes a spectacular parade and firework display. It starts at 6:00 p.m. at the base of Lift #1 and it’s followed by a countdown to the New Year in the Martini Tree Bar, with fun and music. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and the show starts at 9:00 p.m. This is a 21 and over event.

Dance the cold away

Taos Academy of Dance Arts is planning a holiday recital on the weekend of December 17th as the culminating event for an exciting fall semester of dance classes. Adair Landborn joined Cee Bearden this fall as a new Co-Director at TaDa! and has been teaching flamenco dance and singing classes since September in preparation for this special holiday event.

Landborn has created choreographies based on traditional flamenco villancicos (Christmas carols). They will be performed live for the recital. “The flamenco arts are about community building; they are about people singing and dancing together,” Landborn said. “In December we will bring the singing and dancing together to celebrate the winter holidays inTaosin a very special way.”

                                    For the niños

The outdoor playground at Twirl is filled with all kinds of wonderful installations that include a soft climbing structure, a hobbit house and pirate ship, and oversized mirrors and musical instruments. It is a magical space for both visiting and local children in the heart of historic Taos.

“Our theme for this year’s holiday festival at Twirl is “Winterland at Twirl”, said Nikki Ross, Twirl’s Marketing Director.  “We plan to turn the courtyard into a beautiful, white winterland, with or without the help of real snow! All our decorations this year will be white or silver to create the effect of a beautiful snowy land. Children will be able to explore our decorated Christmas trees, each with a special winterland theme, and visit the magical Ice-House.”

The opening of “Winterland” takes place on Friday November 25th, with entertainment, refreshments and a visit from Santa, and the exhibit stays up until January 1st. Local school children will have the chance to visit our holiday exhibit as part of a field trip, where they will take part in a scavenger hunt around the courtyard and enjoy a special holiday project. Visiting children can ask at the front desk for a copy of the scavenger hunt while they are here with their parents.

Fun Peak Indoor Playcenter and Smoothie Café will also have a holiday party on the 17th of December. There will be free snacks and other specials for the day.

Hitting the Museums

The Harwood Museum of Art presents two evenings with the Taos Chamber Music, December 17th and 18th (Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 4:00.) A Classical Holiday Encore will include compositions that complement the holiday season’s festivities. Advance tickets are $16Alliance members; $20 nonmembers. Tickets at the door are $18Alliance members, $22 nonmembers. Children under 16 are $12.

The Nutcracker Live Simulcast will take place at the Harwood Museum on Sunday, December 18th , with an encore performance on Thursday the 22nd at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Experience your holiday favorite like never before in this broadcast from the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, with an introduction by Amber Vasquez, Director of the Taos Youth Ballet. $12 Alliance Members; $15 non-members. Special discounts for Taos Youth Ballet Students

The  Millicent Rogers Museum also plans a Holiday Fiesta, which is a free day of Christmas activities on December 10th.

There is something for everyone inTaos during the winter. No wonder life doesn’t slow down here, even when the cold comes!

San Francisco de Asís Church
60 St Francis Plaza, Rancho de Taos
Tel: (575) 751-0518
Taos Pueblo is located 2 miles north of Taos, 120 Veterans Highway, Taos. Tel:  (575) 758-1028.
Taos Ski Valley,New Mexico87525
Tel: 866.968.7386
Taos Academy of Dance Arts
2 Upper Las Colonias Rd.
Studio: 575-758-7303 Landborn’s cell: 520-404-4636
225 Camino de la Placita, opposite Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
Tel: 575-751-1402
Fun Peak Indoor Playcenter and Smoothie Cafe
1335 PaseodelPueblo Sur Unit # 4
Tel: 575-776-1600
The Harwood Museum
238 Ledoux Street|Taos, New Mexico87571
Tel:  575.758.9826      
Millicent Rogers Museum
504 Millicent Rogers Road 
Tel: 575-758-2462