What started as an Albuquerque Christmas tradition in the northeast heights at the Bugg household moved for several years to the Menaul School. The seasonal display is now housed at the Harvey House Museum in Belen. The display is partnered with the Rail Runner Express so it's easy to take the train south to Belen, hop a bus and see the lights. You can also drive and park on a nearby street.
The Bugg Lights feature 300,000 holiday lights, music, decorations and on opening night, a street festival. You'll find over 50 Christmas trees and nativity scenes. There are always family-friendly activities at this New Mexico holiday tradition.
The Bugg Lights display is free, but donations are accepted. Parking is also free.
History of the Bugg Lights
The Bugg Lights have been an Albuquerque area tradition for decades. The Bugg family began the tradition in 1970 in the Northeast Heights of Albuquerque and continued while their children were growing. When the display became too large for its small street, they were retired for several years until the Menaul School hosted them for several years. Now they've found new life in Belen.
What are the Bugg Lights?
The Bugg Lights consist of a combination of hand-made, hand-painted displays that whirl, twirl, and twinkle. Snoopy and friends can be found in several dioramas. You'll find a choir of singing penguins and a rotating Ferris wheel, stuffed animals lit in lights and more. Since moving to Belen, several exhibits have been added to the large display. There is now a large hot air balloon and the Bugg family donated a display called Lady Bug Ranch. The Bugg family has continued to make donations to the museum, adding Christmas lights and a reindeer tree.
The Harvey House volunteers have designed the outdoor displays so that visitors can find photo ops in a variety of places. Pictures can be taken for posting to Christmas cards and social media. Vintage decorations and lights are used on Christmas trees found on both the first and second floor of the museum. The Harvey House has added to some of the original pieces, such as the singing penguins, which are now on a giant iceberg.
A new nativity scene has been added to the many at the museum, one that used to be on top of the old flour mill that was in Belen over 75 years ago. The donated scene was not complete but was finished by the Belen Art League.
The first year the Bugg Lights opened in Belen, there were 10,000 visitors, and this year, they expect 15,000. Local organizations and groups volunteer and welcome guests to the museum. In return, they receive 50 percent of the funds donated. The other funds go to the Harvey House Museum and the display's upkeep, as well as 10 percent to Belen MainStreet Partnership.
Seeing the Bugg Lights is a great activity for the kids--especially kids who love trains.
Bugg Lights Display at the Harvey House
- November 25 - December 30, 2017
- Open Daily, 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
- See their website for up to date details
Take the Rail Runner all season, as it partners with the Harvey House and may provide extended hours for some Bugg Lights nights.
The Harvey House Museum features the memorabilia of the Santa Fe Railway and how it came to life with the help of Harvey girls. The museum is in the original train station that was part of the Fred Harvey chain of restaurants. It once held a large lunchroom, a newsstand, kitchen facilities, a baking room and sleeping accommodations upstairs for the Harvey girls who served the meals.