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Seasonal glow: Farolitos, luminarias, processions and torchlight skiing brighten the holidays

The holiday season in New Mexico has various traditions, but odds are they are lighted by the flickering glow from a farolito or luminaria.

Depending on where you live in New Mexico, the word usage is different and, around the Land of Enchantment, each community celebrates in a different way.

Here’s a round-up of some events to check out this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

TAOS

Drive up north to the scenic town of Taos for the holiday.

Beginning at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 24, there will be the Christmas Eve procession at Taos Pueblo.

A soft glow marks the lights of Ledoux Street in Taos as the historic street is lit with farolitos, luminaries and bonfires. (Courtesy of the Taos Tourism and Marketing Department)

The event features a stunning contrast between massive bonfires and the Procession of the Virgin, with rifle salutes from the rooftops of the 1,000-year-old adobe pueblo buildings. It’s a pageant of beauty, heritage and awe-inspiring imagery. For details, visit taospueblo.com

Then at 6 p.m. Dec. 24, there are the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parades.

Watch as skiers make their way down the mountain in the dark with flares as their only means of light. All the area ski resorts – Taos Ski Valley, Angel Fire, Sipapu, Enchanted Forest and Red River – have torchlight parades and fireworks during the holiday season.

And at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 25 there is the Taos Pueblo Deer or Matachines Dance. Visitors can witness the ancient Native American ceremonial dance honoring the depths of winter, as danced and drummed by the people of Taos Pueblo. No cameras, cellphones, or video cameras allowed. Visit taospueblo.com, for information.

ALBUQUERQUE

For 53 years, ABQ Ride’s Luminaria Tour has been a tradition for many on Christmas Eve.

As in previous years, tickets for the annual event sold out in hours, but those willing can take their own tour. (See map.)

The famous San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town is decorated with dozens of luminarias on Christmas Eve for the annual Luminaria Tour. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Ticketholders are encouraged to arrive 20 minutes before their scheduled departure, according to an ABQ Ride news release.

According to city officials, the best place to park for free is at the Convention Center’s east side parking structure, at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Broadway.

Free parking will also be available for disabled and special-needs individuals in the parking lot at the northwest corner of Third Street and Marquette NW, just north of Civic Plaza.

Parking underneath Civic Plaza is also free.

Tour buses will pick up passengers on the Second Street NW side of the Albuquerque Convention Center. Buses depart at 5:30 p.m., 5:50 p.m., 6:10 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:05 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 24.

Bathrooms are available at the Convention Center. Drinks with lids will be allowed on the buses, but food and open liquid containers are prohibited.

The major areas of the Luminaria Tour are Old Town, the neighborhoods around Albuquerque Country Club, and Los Altos off Old Coors. The tour lasts about 45 minutes.

MESILLA

The town of Mesilla’s most awaited event will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24.

Christmas Eve events feature caroling and luminarias in the plaza in Mesilla. (Courtesy of the Town of Mesilla)

Avenida de Mesilla will be lined with luminarias, lighting the way to the plaza in the beautiful, historic community.

Festivities will include live Christmas caroling and complimentary traditional Mexican hot chocolate.

The event is free to attend.

SANTA FE

On Sunday, Dec. 24, Canyon Road will be transformed by farolitos as thousands of people visit for the annual Canyon Road Farolito Walk.

The Farolito Walk is free. No reservations or tickets are needed. The walk starts on Christmas Eve at dusk. Organizers ask that visitors be prepared for crowds and a slow pace. To avoid the rush, consider going later in the evening, around 8 p.m. Strollers are difficult to maneuver along the cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks, in addition to blocking pedestrian paths and causing traffic jams. Visit farolitowalk.com.

According to the city officials, Santa Fe Trails buses will provide continuous service from the South Capitol Rail Runner Station to the New Mexico Visitor Center at Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24. The last bus will leave the visitor center at 9:45 p.m.

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