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Start your holiday season with these northern NM spectacles

With the calendar ready to flip to the year’s final month, it’s a headlong flight into the Christmas and holiday season.

And across northern New Mexico, a number of towns have some special events to help get folks into the festive spirit a little early.

In Taos, there is a weekend of fun, beginning with the annual Yuletide Caroling and Tree Lighting on Dec. 1, followed the next day by a holiday fiesta at the Millicent Rogers Museum and capped by the Lighting of Ledoux the evening of Dec. 2.

“We’re going to have a lot of different local choirs and mariachi bands outside on the plaza,” A. Karina Armijo, Taos director of marketing and tourism, said of the Yuletide event, from 4-6 p.m. “We do the lighting of a tree that was donated by the Taos Pueblo many years ago.”

The festive occasion includes rounds of hot chocolate and cookies, free stockings for the children and other surprises.

“It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season,” she said. “We have an electric light parade that’s gotten bigger and bigger throughout the years. People put lights on their cars, and we make it all fun. It brings out a lot of families.”

At the Millicent Rogers Museum, it’s time for some hands-on fun as families get a chance to make their own Christmas cards and ornaments, create retablos and learn about Hanukkah through fun activities,” museum Executive Director Caroline Jean Fernald said.

In addition, local student music and dance groups will be performing holiday song and dance routines throughout the free event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The day finishes up from 5 to 7 p.m. with the gentle glow of farolitos and bonfires along narrow and historic Ledoux Street.

In Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Opera ( will be putting on a special performance of the holiday favorite “Shoes for Santo Niño” Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.

The opera tells the tale of Julianita, who takes a pair of shoes that she has made to the Santo Niño and upon entering the church, the Santo Niño and saints come to life. She embarks on an evening of mystery, magic and miracles.

The streets of Española will come alive Dec. 9 with the annual Light Parade and Christmas on the Plaza, said Christine Bustos of the Española Downtown Action Committee.

“Our parade has really evolved,” Bustos said. “It started in 1996 with 12 floats, and now we have between 40 and 50 each year. We have approximately 20,000 spectators. It’s one of the largest in the state.”

The parade starts at 6 p.m. at Industrial Park, winds along Paseo del Oñate and the Oñate bridge, traveling a couple of miles.

“The theme for this year’s parade is the Chile Line Christmas,” she said. “The Chile Line train used to come through Española. It would bring produce and people back and forth. We expect quite a few trains this year.”

The plaza will be filled with activities for children, including a first-ever gingerbread house contest.

“It’s beautiful. People in Española go all out for the parade,” Bustos said. “This is a parade town.”

The historic Castaneda Hotel in Las Vegas will be a highlight of the annual Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 2.

“It’s going to be a really great tour,” said Kathy Hendrickson, a member of the board of Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation, which organizes the tour. “The Castaneda Hotel was a Harvey House hotel that was built in 1898, but it’s under renovation. The owner, Allan Affeldt, is going to be there, so that’s going to be interesting.”

And across the street, the Rawlins House, which originally served as the dormitory for the Harvey girls, also is under renovation but will be decorated for the holidays.

The Carnegie Library, the state’s last functioning Carnegie library, is also part of the tour. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The self-guided route also includes several Victorian-style homes and the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. It was built in 1885 and contains a rare Kilgen organ, on which local noted musician David Escudero will be playing Christmas music.