Skiers have their fingers crossed for a heavy snowpack, with resorts scheduled to open from Thanksgiving (Santa Fe and Taos) through Dec. 13 (Angel Fire). Downhill fans already know about Taos and Angel Fire, but less-crowded, economical options include not just Ski Santa Fe but also Pajarito, Red River, Sandia (in Albuquerque), Sipapu, and Ski Apache (near Ruidoso).
For cross-country skiers, groomed trails are plentiful at Angel Fire Nordic and Enchanted Forest, with backcountry trails throughout the Santa Fe National Forest, Carson National Forest, and Valles Caldera National Preserve. Santa Fe has a number of outfitters that will rent you the equipment to get your feet wet—so to speak—for a great winter excursion. Head toward Ski Santa Fe for the 4km Norski Trail. Near Los Alamos, 5km of groomed trails are similarly free to use at the Pajarito Nordic Ski Trail. Or try snowshoeing on the Aspen Vista Trail, a favorite with Santa Feans on full-moon nights.
Many nearby Indian Pueblos hold ceremonial dances on Christmas Eve and Day, including the much-studied Matachines, a fascinating hybrid of Catholic and Native American traditions. Check with our Concierge Desk for specifics, since the dances are not entertainment—they are ceremonies that call for solemnity on the part of visitors. On Dec. 24, Taos Pueblo has a sundown procession with bonfires, Acoma Pueblo is lit with luminarias, and San Felipe, Nambe, and Tesuque have dances after Midnight Mass. Look for Christmas Day dances all day at Tesuque, Taos, San Ildefonso, and Zia Pueblos.
Back in town…
If you’re lucky enough to be here, the Christmas Eve Canyon Road farolito walk is a time-honored tradition. From dusk into the evening, thousands of people stroll among the art galleries enjoying carols, cocoa, and biscochitos. Farolitos line the neighborhood streets and adobe walls. The event brings out thousands of holiday revelers who stroll the famous street admiring the lights and singing Christmas carols around the bonfires.
Musical enchantments are especially plentiful in Santa Fe this time of year. The Santa Fe Concert Association holds a Christmas Eve concert featuring young violinist Caroline Goulding, with a two-hour dress rehearsal option beginning at 2 p.m. for those who have later plans. The Baroque Christmas concert at Loretto Chapel is another holiday entertainment alternative (nightly Dec. 20-24).
The Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival hosts a double feature of Mel Brooks movies followed by Chinese food at the Center for Contemporary Arts.
Chorale music lovers will want to hear Polyphony performing Baroque Splendor (Dec. 27) at the Cathedral of St. John. Another Baroque treat, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos will be performed by Santa Fe Pro Musica (Dec. 28, 29). Santa Fe Desert Chorale presents its sister group Voasis, New Mexico’s first professional a cappella ensemble, performing a repertoire (Dec. 28, 29, 30) ranging from the Great American Songbook to radio hits.
On New Year’s Eve, the Santa Fe Concert Association features renowned pianist Claire Huangci and the SFCA’s own Joseph Illick, with a dress rehearsal option in the afternoon. You can book now for their Gala Dinner and Dance. In January the SFCA is performing Rossini’s The Barber of Seville free to the public (Jan. 10, 11, 12). And for Wagner fans, Joseph Illick will host a sing-along of the entire Ring Cycle, suitable for beginners and experts alike.
Later in the month the Santa Fe Symphony performs Bruckner and Mozart (Jan. 19) with guest conductor James Feddeck and opera apprentice Rachel Hall. Santa Fe Pro Musica performs a classical weekend (Jan. 25-26) with Carmelo de los Santos on violin.
In contemporary music, the versatile Pink Martini brings its multilingual orchestra to Santa Fe (Jan. 20) with vocalist Storm Large. Bluegrass fans will want to catch the farewell tour of Grammy Award-winning Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Jan. 30), the 86-year-old made famous by his hit “Man of Constant Sorrow” on the soundtrack Brother Where Art Thou. St. John’s College opens a pop-up jazz club for its Music on the Hill Elevated concert series (Jan. 25), with four dates planned through March, and small plates and drinks available for purchase.