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The Spirit of Christmas and the Holiday Season in Taos, New Mexico

A Christmas wreath decorates the front of an adobe home in Taos, New Mexico.
Christmas in Taos
Christmas in Taos is definitely a multicultural event. Not only are the Christian and Jewish holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah celebrated, but there are also the Native American, Hispanic, and Winter Solstice traditions that make this time of year so special.

As in other areas of the USA, the season begins just after Thanksgiving, with the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree on Taos Plaza. Locals gather to sing carols as they await the arrival of Santa Claus, who makes his entrance upon an old fire truck.

Local Holiday Festivities Include:

Lighting of Ledoux Street
An annual Taos event, this highly anticipated evening ushers in the holiday season. The museums, galleries, studios, and merchants of Ledoux Street open their doors to the public, offering music, refreshments and warming bonfires along the winding road brightly lit with faralitos. This night offers a true taste of the Christmas in Taos experience for locals and visitors alike.
The Christmas tree in Taos, New Mexico.
Festival of Wreaths and Trees
Sixty Christmas trees decorated by local businesses and groups are sold at auction to raise money for area non-profit organizations.

Baroque Holiday Concerts
The Taos Chamber Music Group brings musical masterpieces of the era to Taos Community Auditorium.

Hanukkah in Taos
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev (according to the Hebrew calendar) and may occur from late November to late December on the Gregorian calendar. The Taos Jewish Center has several celebrations during this time.

Longtime Hispanic Traditions
For the nine days preceding Christmas, the old Hispanic tradition of Las Posadas takes place. It is a candlelight procession at Ranchos de Taos Plaza, in which Joseph and Mary’s journey and search for shelter is reenacted.

The Spanish morality play, Los Pastores, is also a local tradition. It commemorates the visit of the angels to announce the birth of Jesus to shepherds keeping their flocks outside Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. The version of this play, as performed in Taos, is said to be the one closest to the original play written in the 1500s. Sangre de Cristo Liturgies puts on these performances on or around Christmas Eve.

Taos Pueblo Christmas Events
Taos Pueblo honors the birth of Christ with a vespers service held at dusk on Christmas Eve. Following the mass at San Geronimo Church, Pueblo men lead the way through those gathered on the Pueblo’s plaza, as the church’s statue of Mary is carried through the plaza before it is returned to the church. The men shoot rifles into the air to salute the birth of Jesus. Bonfires of pitch wood are lighted to warm those who gather for well-wishes all around.

On Christmas Day, Taos Pueblo celebrates with the performance of Matachines (animal) Dances, which are also performed on New Year’s Day. In the Ranchos de Taos, Llano Quemado and Talpa areas, Los Comanches is performed by descendants of hispanicized Comanches, in honor of Emanuel, the newborn Christ child.

Taos Pueblo Christmas Eve. Photo by Gail Russell.
Taos is a Winter Wonderland
Of course, many visitors come to Taos to enjoy the ski season and to participate in other winter sports. Others come to reunite with family and friends. But whatever the reason, a trip to Taos at Christmastime is a unique experience...one that will never be forgotten.


December 5
• 22nd Annual Yuletide Caroling & Tree Lighting

December 6
• Millicent Rogers Museum's 11th Annual Holiday Fiesta
• The Taos Gallery Artwalk
• North Pole Express, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

December 6 and 7
• Holiday Arts & Craft Fair

December 13
The beautifully decorated Taos Inn lobby at Christmastime. Photo courtesy Taos Inn.• 7th Annual Christmas Carnival & Holiday Skating Exhibition
• Lighting of Ledoux Street

December 20
• North Pole Express, Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

December 24
• Christmas Eve Procession (Taos Pueblo Plaza)

December 25
• Deer or Matachines Dances (Taos Pueblo)
• Holy Innocent's Day, Children's Dance

December 31
• New Year’s Eve Celebration (Taos Ski Valley)
• New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade (Red River)

• Taos Inn Tree Lighting
• John Dunn Shops Firelight Open House
• Festival of Wreaths and Trees

Taos Plaza in Taos, New Mexico, fully decorated for the Christmas season.• Gingerbread House
• Baroque Holiday Concerts
• Christmas Bird Count (Red River/Eagle Nest)

• Breakfast with Santa (Angel Fire)
• Brew Master’s Festival (Taos Ski Valley)
• Chocolate Tasting Extravaganza (Eagle Nest)
• Torchlight Parade and Fireworks (Angel Fire)

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