December in Albuquerque: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

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It's the darkest time of the year, so everyone brings out the lights. Find out where to take them in, from the River of Lights to local displays to luminaria tours.
Be sure to take a look at the holiday calendar for listings on holiday events.
For dining options at Christmas, see the Christmas dining guide.
Find Nutcracker Ballet performances for the holiday season.
Discover where to cut your own Christmas tree.

If you know of an event that should be included, please email me at

Find holiday music in the Albuquerque area.
Find free holiday events.

December Events

Bugg Lights
The walk-through displays feature handcrafted characters. The Bugg Lights have been a local tradition for over 40 years. Refreshments, musical entertainment and Santa in his workshop, along with nightly entertainment, all at the Harvey House Museum in Belen.
For 2015: November 28 - December 31

Nob Hill Shop and Stroll
The annual shop and stroll features Santa Claus, free trolley rides, mariachis, carolers and great shopping and food.
For 2015: December 3

Nutcracker on the Rocks
The Keshet Dance Company's Nutcracker defies expectations, performs classic rock and roll tunes, uses wheelchairs for ballet to create an exciting performance that has become an Albuquerque classic. See it at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
For 2015:  December 3 - 13

Old Town Holiday Stroll
Enjoy live music, dancing, strolling carolers and even a visit from Santa Claus in Old Town. The luminarias will be glowing and the shops will be overflowing with holiday fare. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. and the tree will be lit at 6:15 p.m. The Santa parade begins at 6:15 p.m. The stroll is free, and also takes place along Museum Row.
For 2015: December 4

Pueblo Shop & Stroll
Join the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for holiday traditions that include a performance of the Fire Dance by the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers. There will be a bonfire, Native artists selling goods, and holiday arts and crafts for the kids. There is a free shuttle from Old Town.
For 2015: December 4

First Friday Fractals
Art and science meet under the planetarium dome for these live presentations. Fractals Rock has more rock music and less talk.
For 2015: December 4

First Friday ARTScrawl
With over 20 different galleries throughout the city participating, you can choose which ones to visit to find out what's happening with guilds, individual artists and ongoing shows.
For 2015: December 4

Holiday Fair
Find fresh garlands, wreaths and poinsettias made by master gardeners at the Albuquerque Garden Center. There will be over 40 crafts booths. The craft and plant sale runs from  9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For 2015: December 4 - 5

Madrid Christmas Open House
Santa will be on hand in Madrid to listen to whispered wishes, along with Mrs. Claus, stage coach rides, music, carolers and a variety of entertainment. There will also be the open galleries and art shows Madrid is famous for.
For 2015:  December 5

Home for the Holidays Concert
Three UNM choirs will sing at the KiMo Theatre. Hear UNM Children's Chorus, the UNM Concert Choir and Las Cantantes sing holiday favorites.
For 2015: December 4 - 5

The Festival of Trees
The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for Carrie Tingley Foundation to help the hospitals' special needs kids. Carrie Tingley hospitals offer children a place to get well and improve their chance at life. Donate your time, purchase an ornament, or make or bring your own to help the cause. The Festival takes place at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
For 2015: December 4 -6

Elf the Musical Jr. 
An orphan crawls into Santa's bag and is transported to the North Pole. He grows thinking he is an elf. See it performed at the South Broadway Cultural Center.
For 2015: December 4 - 13

The Wind in the Willows
The beloved tale comes to the Aux Dog Theatre in a colorful and witty recreation of a classic story.
For 2015: December 4 - 24

A Christmas Carol
The Charles Dickens tale about Scrooge and his warming heart can be seen at the Albuquerque Little Theatre weekends through Christmas.
For 2015: December 4 - 24

The Game's Afoot or Holmes for the Holiday
It's December 1936 and a Broadway star famous for playing Sherlock Holmes invites the cast to a Connecticut castle for a weekend. When one of the guests is murdered, the case begins. See it at For 2015: December 4 - 20

Handbell Ensemble Concert
Hear the Albuquerque Handbell Ensemble perform in a free concert at Erna Fergusson Library from 2 to 3 p.m.
For 2015: December 5

Family Fun Holiday Art Workshop
Take some time to make and take holiday crafts at the Albuquerque Museum. The free event runs from 1 to 4 p.m.
For 2015: December 5

Twinkle Light Parade
The annual Twinkle Light Parade features Santa Claus and over 100 floats with twinkling lights. Visit the parade this year in Nob Hill, and participate in the district's annual Shop and Stroll.
For 2015: December 5

Nutcracker Ballet
Hear Tchaikovsky's classic music of the Nutcracker. The New Mexico Ballet Company will be accompanied by the New Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra for two weekends of the Nutcracker. Special guest dancers from the New York City and American Ballet troupes will perform.
For 2015: December 5 and 6

Holiday Stop and Shop
The annual event in Los Ranchos features more than 30 businesses and restaurants in a small area, making it easy to shop for the holidays. A printable map is available online; vendor hours and specials can be found by visiting individual websites. Look for numbered signs with the balloons for participating shops. Raffles for gift baskets and refreshments are part of each day. Each merchant will be giving back to a charity. 
For 2015: December 5 - 6

Holiday Concert
Hear the Albuquerque Concert Band as they perform holiday music. They'll perform at the KiMo Theatre in a free concert.
For 2015: December 6

Christmas at Kuaua
The evening of holiday fun includes luminarias, a bonfire, a visit from Santa, Native dancers, biscochito cookies, hot apple cider and cocoa. Kids can make their own Christmas ornament. There will be music, traditional Pueblo dances and Native American storytelling. Find it at the Coronado Monument. This year there will be food and drink vendors in the parking area.
For 2015: December 6

Holidays Take Flight
Head to the Balloon Museum and enjoy decorating holiday balloon cookies, making crafts and visit with balloon pilot Santa. Hot drinks and treats will be for sale as well as a New Mexico shopping "village" with local businesses and artisans. Get your picture taken with Balloon Pilot Santa. 
For 2015: December 6

David Berkeley
Berkeley sings songs sung from the perspective of the characters in his stories. The musician will perform at the Cherry Hills Library on Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. and on Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. at Los Griegos Library.
For 2015: December 8 and 9

Nitty-Gritty Crafts
Make gifts for family and friends at the San Pedro Library, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Materials will be provided.
For 2015: December 12

Winter Carnival
Enjoy a family friendly winter carnival with games, music, food, crafts, tennis games and more at the Jerry Cline Recreation Center from noon to 3 p.m.
For 2015: December 12

Joe West & The Santa Fe Revue Holiday Shindig
Joe West & THe Santa Fe Revue is a psychadelic country band that will perform at the Outpost Performance Space.
For 2015: December 12

Mariachi Christmas
Swirling dresses, stomping feet and mariachi music combine into one unforgettable show.
For 2015: December 13

Rio Rancho features this annual event where you can enjoy a parade filled with holiday lights and special floats. After the parade, tour the luminarias. A holiday lighting ceremony at city hall at 5 p.m. Refreshments, arts and crafts and pictures with Santa at city hall from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be a train for kids to ride on, holiday music and movies.
For 2015: December 12

Ballet Repertory Theater Nutcracker Ballet
The Ballet Repertory Theatre brings the classic tale of toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes the nutcracker and little Clara to life. The Ballet Repertory Theatre has performed the Nutcracker since 1996. Additional ticket charges for the Christmas Eve performance includes attendance to a Nutcracker Tea following the performance. Meet your favorite Nutcracker characters and taste treats from the Land of Sweets. See it at the KiMo.
For 2015: December 12 - 24

See more events on Page 2 >

Mannheim Steamroller
Celebrate Christmas with the music of Mannheim Steamroller, along with the special effects, in Popejoy Hall at 4 and again at 8 p.m.
For 2015: December 18

Holiday Pops
The New Mexico Philharmonic features conductor Jason Altieri leading the orchestra in arrangements of classic holiday music. Hear the Manzano Day School Chorus, Bosque School Choirs and the Rio Rancho High School Concert Choir, at 6 p.m. at Popejoy Hall.
For 2015: December 19

Nutcracker Ballet in the Land of Enchantment
Performed by the Festival Ballet Albuquerque, accompanied by music of the Figueroa Project. The traditions and heritage of New Mexico are paired with the classical tale of the holidays. Choreographed by Patricia Dickinson Wells. Live music will be played under the direction of Maestro Guillermo Figueroa. Tickets can be purchased at Dance Theatre Southwest (296-9465) or the NHCC (724-4771); call for box office times. See it at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
For 2015: December 18 - 20

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
The game features the Mountain West Conference winner playing against a team from Conference USA. See it at the Pit. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Lobo ticket office at (505) 925-5999.
For 2015: December 19

Luminaria Tour
Christmas isn't the same in Albuquerque without a tour of luminaria displays on Christmas Eve. The city offers bus tours for those who want the comfort of a seat and the warmth of a bus. Those who prefer walking can find out more about where to go and what to expect with my luminaria tour guide.
For 2015: December 24

Luminarias in Old Town
Christmas isn't the same in Albuquerque without a tour of luminaria displays on Christmas Eve. Walk around the Old Town plaza and venture into the Country Club neighborhood, with stops for hot chocolate, carolers and holiday cheer along the way.
For 2015: December 24

Merry Christmas!