Luminarias are the hallmark of Christmas in Albuquerque. You can see these paper lanterns—made from sand, a paper bag, and a lit candle—all over the city, from the University of New Mexico to Old Town and the Country Club neighborhood and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Most of these places are also the scene of traditional annual holiday season events that get you in the spirit of Christmas. You can enjoy a tree-lighting, luminaria tours, and shopping for New Mexico gifts. Many of the holiday events are free.
Stroll Old Town
The Old Town Albuquerque Holiday Stroll gets the holiday season started at 6 p.m. on December 6, 2019, with the annual lighting of the Old Town Christmas tree, accompanied by live entertainment and loads of shopping specials. Streets will be closed and people will start gathering at 5 p.m.
Old Town is aglow every holiday season with luminarias; it's a sight to behold and an Albuquerque tradition.
Enjoy the Twinkle Light Parade
Save the date for one of Albuquerque's signature holiday events, the Twinkle Light Parade on Dec. 7, 2019. Floats, bands, bikes, cars, and Santa himself will parade down East Central Avenue through Nob Hill from Washington Street to Girard Boulevard from 5 to 9 p.m.
Pack up the kids, some warm clothing, hot chocolate, and Christmas cookies and head out for an event with real Christmas spirit.
Shop at the Pueblo Cultural Center
If you are on the hunt for traditional Native American gifts, head to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for its annual Pueblo Shop & Stroll on December 7, 2019, lit by countless luminarias. You'll find handmade Christmas ornaments in clay, jewelry, and works of art.
Have some hot chocolate next to the bonfire as you experience a performance by the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers at the end of the evening. This event is free with museum admission.
Look at the Luminarias
One of the highlights of Christmas in Albuquerque is a tour of luminarias displays on Christmas Eve. Walk around the Old Town Plaza and venture into the Country Club neighborhood on December 24, with stops for hot chocolate, carolers, and holiday cheer along the way.
Other neighborhoods to try are Ridgecrest and North Albuquerque Acres. Enjoy the lights as soon as the sun goes down.
Watch the Hanging of the Greens
The Hanging of the Greens at the University of New Mexico is its oldest student tradition, and it takes place in 2010 at 5:45 p.m. on December 6 at the UNM Bookstore. Carolers will move across campus to University House with a wreath for UNM's president, followed by a reception at Hodgin Hall from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Besides the caroling and the formal wreath presentation, the main attraction is the large luminaria display, not to be missed.
The community is invited and attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped children's book to place under the tree at Hodgin Hall. Books will be donated to UNM Children's Hospital.
Drive to See Bugg Lights
The Belen Harvey House Museum, in Belen, about a half hour's drive from Albuquerque, puts on a spectacular light show every year for the holidays. It is lit with more than 300,000 lights and is decorated with vintage Christmas items, nativity scenes, and more than 100 Christmas trees.
There are also treats to eat and music to enjoy. Bugg Lights is open every day from 5 to 9 p.m until January 4, 2020.
Shop and Stroll on Nob Hill
The holiday season means lots of shopping, and what better way to get into the spirit than at the Nob Hill Shop & Stroll in early December. On December 5, 2019, Central Avenue will be closed to traffic between Girard and San Mateo boulevards to make it easier to walk around the Nob Hill area of interesting local shops. If that's not enough, there will be live music and tons of Christmas decorations.