Find Your Happy Holidays Throughout Southern New Mexico -
nmsu luminarias

We all have our holiday traditions. Driving to Tularosa or Mesilla to see luminarias on Christmas Eve is an essential tradition for some. For others, the holiday would not be the same without an electric light parade. Cultural junkies can’t wait for the current performance of a Nutcracker ballet or a holiday play. Whatever your tradition, you can celebrate it somewhere in Southern New Mexico — or you might discover a new tradition.

Lots of Lights

Most of the holiday tree-lighting events and light parades conclude with visits from Santa Claus and warm drinks and treats. There are a variety of celebrations from
which to choose.

Alamogordo kicks off the holiday fun with a Christmas tree lighting on Friday, December 9, from 6 – 8 p.m. on the stage at Washington Park, 100 Washington Ave.

See our story about Christmas Towns on page 24 to learn about Christmas on the Pecos and more activities in Carlsbad.

christmas on the pecos in carlsbad nmCLOUDCROFT
Enjoy the Christmas parade beginning at 5 p.m. that precedes the tree lighting on Saturday, December 3, at the Otero County Electric Co-op, 404 Burro Ave.

Deming’s downtown will come alive with Christmas lights Saturday, December 3, at 5 p.m. The Deming Community Tree Lighting will be held at the Luna County Courthouse Park, 700 S. Silver Ave., at 7 p.m. following a Christmas Light Parade that starts at 6 p.m. and proceeds west on Spruce Street and south on Gold Avenue.

The 27th Annual Luminaria Beachwalk will be held on Saturday, December 10, from 5 – 8 p.m. at the Elephant Butte State Park entrance. Park entry fees apply. Be dazzled by thousands of luminarias and dozens of bonfires.

The annual Christmas tree lighting will take place Saturday, December 3, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Downtown Plaza de Las Cruces, 100 S. Main St. Noches de Luminarias at New Mexico State University (NMSU) will be held Sunday, December 4, with luminarias lit around campus from 5 – 9 p.m. Santa will be cruising the campus to wave to visitors, hot cocoa and cider stations will be set up, and much more. Some activities will be just for students, but many are for everyone to enjoy. Check for updated details.

Luminara de Abó  sponsored by the Friends of Salinas Pueblo Missions will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, December 3. New Mexicos newest luminaria event will be held at the San Gregorio de Abó Mission at the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. More than 1,000 handmade, hand-placed, and hand-lighted, luminarias will set the landscape aglow, tracing the outline of the seventeenth century church.

The Festival of Lights Parade begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, on Sudderth Drive. This year the theme is Star Wars. The Festival of Lights After Party at Wingfield Park off Center Street features a drone light show.

The annual light parade rolls out on Saturday, November 26, at 7 p.m. The parade starts at Bullard and Broadway and will end at Pope Street. It is also Small Business Saturday, so you can shop local during the day. Downtown streets will close at 5 p.m., so find a place to park and head to someplace along the route for dinner before the parade.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, the Holiday Electric Light Parade begins on California Street and ends at the historic plaza. Members of the Socorro County Arts display their arts and crafts in shops around the plaza from 4:30 – 8:30 p.m.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 9, with the Christmas tree lighting in Downtown Truth or Consequences’ Evelyn Renfro Park, 301 S. Foch St. The free festivities continue until 9 p.m.

Traditional luminarias line Highway 70 where it crosses through the center of town on Christmas Eve from dusk until the candles burn out around midnight. Those who get off the highway may find the hot spot where posole is being served to volunteers and visitors. Don’t miss the opportunity to thank the volunteers for the traditional display.

Dance, music, and theater

Take the family for a performance at the Flickinger Center, 1110 New York Ave., to hear the Sons of the Pioneers on Tuesday, November 15, or a “Mariachi Christmas” on Tuesday, December 13. Shows begin at 7 p.m. Reserve your ticket at

The Carlsbad Community Theatre, 4713 National Parks Hwy., presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some). Performances are 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, December 2 – 3 and 9 – 10, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays, December 4 and 11. The actors perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world. Tickets are $15.83. Reserve tickets at

The Ruidoso Academy of Ballet and Dance transforms Tchaikovsky’s musical score for The Nutcracker into a brilliant dreamscape with spectacular sets and costumes. The performances are held Saturday and Sunday, December 17 – 18, at the Spencer Theater. Tickets are $39 and
can be purchased at

Mannheim Steamroller celebrates more than 35 years of Christmas concert tours with a performance that begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 26, at the NMSU Pan American Center, 1810 E. University Ave. Tickets start at $40.

NMSU Live Theater presents A Christmas Carol at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, December 2 – 3, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 4, at the NMSU Center for the Arts, 1000 E. University Ave. General tickets are $25. Tickets can be purchased online at

Las Cruces Community Theater (LCCT) presents Elf: The Musical at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, December 2 – 3, 9 – 10, and 15 – 17, and at 2 p.m. Sundays, December 4, 11, and 18, at the LCCT, 313 N. Main St. Tickets are $17 for adults and are available online at

Los Pastores del Valle de Mesilla will perform an ancient liturgical drama on Saturday, December 10, at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 1327 N. Miranda St. There is no admission charge, but donations are welcome.

While not a performance of holiday music, you can enjoy a concert by the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, December 10, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 11, at 3 p.m. at the NMSU Atkinson Recital Hall, 1075 N. Horseshoe St. The concert will be led by guest conductor Christopher James Ray. Tickets and information at

The Mesilla Valley Chorale performs its annual holiday concert Sunday, December 11, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at or at the door on the afternoon of the event at the Rio Grande Theater, 211 N. Main St.

The 38th Annual performance of The Nutcracker will be presented on Friday, December 16, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, December 17, at 2 and 7 p.m. at NMSU’s Atkinson Recital Hall, 1075 N. Horseshoe St. Tickets are $25, and can be reserved at Brigid Walker Coles, who was raised in Las Cruces and trained with the Royal Ballet in London, returns as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen.

“A Doo-Wop Christmas!” rings in the season beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, December 17, at the Rio Grande Theater, 211 N. Main St. The Oldies But Goodies band
performs holiday classics. Tickets are $20 at

Voz Vaqueros will perform a free Christmas concert on Saturday, December 17, at 6 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 518 Alameda Blvd.

“A Mariachi Christmas Spectacular” will be held on Friday, December 16, at 7 p.m. at the Fine Arts Center Theater at Western New Mexico Tech, 1000 W. College Ave. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at

New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series presents “Mariachi Christmas” on Friday, December 16, at 7:20 p.m. at the Macey Center on campus. Tickets are $15 for adults. Comida Festiva is a pre-show social hour from 6 – 7:30 p.m. featuring traditional New Mexican foods and drink specials. General tickets are $10. Get tickets at

Holiday Gift Shopping

Take advantage of early shopping on Fridays, November 4 and December 2, at the New York Avenue First Friday Alive After Five Downtown Nites. Food trucks and musicians add to the festive evening. Downtown merchants also will host Christmas on Main Street on Saturday, December 10, with music and the work of more than 100 artists.

Capitan Country Christmas Bazaar will be held on Saturday, December 3, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, 101 5th St. A variety of arts, crafts, and home-based businesses will be featured. All proceeds from the bazaar benefit the Capitan Women’s Club.

pop up apothecaryDEMING
Deming rocks the holidays with the Holiday Craft & Gift Show sponsored by the Gem & Mineral Society from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, November 12, and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sunday, November 13, at the Southwestern New Mexico Fairgrounds, 4300 Raymond Reed Blvd. This show is free and features handmade crafts from locals and other vendors. A Christmas Market will be held on Saturday, December 3, at 1 p.m. before the downtown lighting, parade, and tree lighting.

First Friday at the Galleries presented by the Silver City Art Association is a free event that provides shopping opportunities for unique arts and crafts on Fridays, November 4 and December 2, from 5 – 7 p.m. For more information and a map, visit

The Pop-Up Apothecary occurs on Sundays, November 27 and December 18, from 3 – 8 p.m. at Studio de la Luz, 308 Pershing St. The event features local apothecary makers selling herbal and medicinal oils, salves, teas, soaps, lotions, and similar items.

More Celebrations

Tree lighting ceremonies, cultural delights, and shopping are central to the season. However, many communities have additional celebrations.

If you have guests to entertain, reserve an Alamogordo Ghost and History Tour on Saturday, November 19 or December 17. The ghost tour runs from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The cost is $20 and lunch is included. To book a ticket, call 707-880-6238.

Visit with zoo animals during the Christmas Zoobilee, tentatively planned for Saturday, December 17, from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Alameda Park Zoo, 1021 N. White Sands Blvd., when the zoo will be open late and filled with luminarias, s’mores, and music. Check their Facebook page for details.

Holidays at the Las Cruces Railroad Museum, 351 N. Mesilla St., feature free drop-in workshops. Enjoy the sparkle of winter and holiday decorations at the Railroad Museum during the open house on Friday, December 9, from 4 – 8 p.m. The Elves’ Workshop provides an opportunity for elves of all ages to make decorations from 11 a.m. – noon on Saturdays, December 3, 14, and 21. Visit the museum to write letters to Santa Saturday, December 3, from 2 – 3 p.m. and Wednesday, December 7, from 11 a.m. – noon.

The Grand Chanukah Concert is Sunday, December 18, at 4:30 p.m. at the Plaza de Las Cruces. This free event will be kicked off with the lighting of the tallest menorah in the Southwest. A live concert, crafts, giveaways, and traditional foods like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) are always part of the event. There will be a Judaica Pop-up Shop where visitors can purchase menorahs, candles, and other Jewish holiday items.

The Las Cruces Chile Drop occurs at midnight on New Year’s Eve at the Plaza de Las Cruces. The night features live music, food trucks, and the dropping of a 19-foot chile pepper featuring 400 feet of LED lighting.

Celebrate a Victorian Christmas at the Silver City Museum on Thursday, December 8, from 5 – 8 p.m. at 312 W. Broadway St. This event is free, but donations
are encouraged. Costumed characters create a Victorian holiday for guests. There will be many activities for the whole family. Visit Western New Mexico University, 1000 W. College Ave., for the Jingle and Mingle on Friday, December 2, from 5 – 9 p.m. at the Fountain Stage at Regents Square for a free family-friendly evening.




Story by Jackye Meinecke | Courtesy photos

Originally published in Neighbors magazine.

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