Albuquerque Twinkle Light Parade

Details About This Annual Holiday Parade -- the Route, Getting There, and More

Christmas in New Mexico, luminaries and adobe.
••• Christmas in New Mexico, luminaries and adobe. Getty Images/Ray Laskowitz

What is the holiday season without a parade? The city of Albuquerque's annual Twinkle Light Parade celebrates the season with the kind of glitter and glam you expect from this holiday event. Each year, neighborhood associations, specialty groups, and clubs put together a parade entry decorated in holiday lights. Albuquerque’s entries are unique to the city. Where else can you find a parade with low rider car clubs?

The parade typically takes place in Nob Hill, just two days after the annual Nob Hill Shop and Stroll. On Saturday, shopping can take place before or after the parade in Nob Hill, where merchants will be open late. Central will be closed off to cars from noon until midnight to make shopping a relaxed affair.

Another thing that makes the Albuquerque Twinkle Light Parade special is the fun you can continue to enjoy after the parade. Go to the Rio Grande Botanic Gardens for the special River of Lights display. There is plenty of glitter and shine, with lit scenes scattered throughout the gardens, lighting up the dark. Kids especially love the garden railroad all decked out in Christmas finery, commandeered by Santa Snoopy. And speaking of Santa Claus, he’s on hand too.

A giant float that features Santa and his elves will be the grand parade finale. The float includes the Claus home. The Claus vehicles will be Santa's replica of an early 1920s C-Cab Mack Truck and a turn of the century antique sleigh. The float will have a corral for reindeer and the bunkhouse for the elves. 

The North Pole fire department will drive an early 1930s fire truck. Behind the Santa float, there will be an early 1930s Tangley Calliaphone Air Calliope.

Watch the parade along Central between Washington and Girard. There is some bleacher stands along the way, but seating is limited.

Preparing for the Parade

  • Get there early because the streets get crowded fast.
  • Whether you have kids or not, you’ll want to dress in layers or take an extra jacket, because once the sun goes down in Albuquerque, it can get chilly.
  • If you do have young ones, be sure to bring them in strollers or wagons. Bring snacks, and a few dollars so the kids can get a trinket or two. Glow sticks are popular items, and if you don't want to purchase them at the parade, consider buying some beforehand at a dollar store.
  • Once the parade is over, whether or not you’re heading to the River of Lights, you’ll need to either walk back to your car or ride the shuttle or bus to your vehicle elsewhere. Factor in that extra time, take a flashlight and consider how tired or excited the kids will be. 

    How to Get There

    Central will be closed off to vehicles from San Mateo to Girard. When the parade finishes, shopping in Nob Hill continues until 10 p.m.

    • By bus: Take the bus, Ride #66, which runs until 11 p.m. Park anywhere along the route and take the bus. From the west side, park at the Kmart at Atrisco and Central. From the east side, park at Wynona and Tramway NE.
    • Park and Ride: Take the free shuttle from the corner of Lomas and University, and be dropped off at UNM's Johnson Field. Shuttles will run from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m.
    • Street Parking: Side streets around Nob Hill will be available for parking, but better get there early to snag a spot. Be prepared to do a bit of walking.