Guide to Labor Day in Albuquerque: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

Albuquerque Skyline, New Mexico at dusk

Tony Shi Photography / Getty Images

The Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of summer and heralds the upcoming fall season. The holiday in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico, ushers in festivals and events at which you can enjoy a comfortable climate while listening to live music and trying some delicious foods. Imbibe on New Mexico wines and microbrews while feasting on local specialties—including anything and everything with chiles. Many fun activities await you within Albuquerque and the surrounding area, such as Santa Fe and Hatch.

01 of 10

The Burning of Zozobra

Burning of the Zozobra in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Adria Malcolm / Getty Images

Every year on the Friday before Labor Day, Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe makes sure Zozobra, a monstrous 50-foot high marionette, goes up in smoke in Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe. The burning of "Old Man Gloom" kicks off the fiestas of Santa Fe, which welcome hope and happiness. Zozobra was created by Will Shuster, one of the artists known as the Cinco Pintores, or Five Painters, who ventured to New Mexico in the 1920s.

Santa Fe is an hour north of Albuquerque, but you can enjoy the 2020 festival from the comfort and safety of your own living room. The burning of Zozorba will be aired on local television and streamed online for free, and no crowds will be allowed to attend this year. The burn takes place in the evening of Friday, September 4, 2020.

02 of 10

Visit the ABQ BioPark

Near downtown Albuquerque along the Rio Grande River, the ABQ BioPark is New Mexico's most popular tourist destination. The area entices guests with various attractions like the ABQ BioPark Zoo, which has existed since 1927 and features animals from around the world. Also, you'll find the Botanic Garden's 32 acres of exhibits that show off plants from the American Southwest and around the globe; the Aquarium full of fish from many ecosystems; and Tingley Beach, which offers fishing ponds, a bike path, and a walking trail.

Tickets for New Mexico residents, Bio Park Society members, and members of the military are discounted. As of August 10, 2020, the Aquarium is closed until further notice, but the Botanic Garden, BioPark Zoo, and Tingley Beach are all open—albeit with limited capacity and not all attractions are available.

03 of 10

Visit Historic Old Town

The touristic district in the historic center of Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico
Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

Old Town, east of the Rio Grande and west of downtown Albuquerque, has narrow streets and alleys that haven't been altered much since the area was founded in 1706 by Spanish settlers. A lot of the architecture is charming and adobe, in the Pueblo-Spanish style. Touring around Old Town you'll find museums, New Mexican restaurants, over 100 shops, and artisans and street vendors selling everything from rugs to pottery and jewelry. The Main Plaza is a great spot for people-watching, including musicians performing in a gazebo.

04 of 10

Harvest Wine Festival

As of August 10, 2020, there is no Harvest Wine Festival scheduled for Labor Day 2020.

At the Harvest Wine Festival in Albuquerque, you can try more than 200 wines from about 20 of the state's top wineries while listening to live music and sampling some tasty food from the comfort of outdoor tents. There are arts and crafts vendors, free painting classes, and bottle sales for those who like what they taste. The three-day festival takes place at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Tickets are available online, and parking is free. All ages are allowed, but children under 18 must be with a legal guardian.

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05 of 10

Food on a Stick Fest

As of August 10, 2020, Cliff's Amusement Park is closed until further notice.

The annual Food On A Stick Fest takes place at ​Cliff's Amusement Park in Albuquerque. Enjoy on-a-stick treats made by top area chefs and food trucks. Items get creative and include sausage, jerk chicken, banana and cheesecake, jalapeno poppers, bratwurst, frozen pickles, and other foods that can be devoured with only one hand.

In addition to food, admission includes musical performances, a carnival ride pass, and access to waterslides. Advance tickets are available online.

06 of 10

Hatch Valley Chile Festival

Chiles and peppers for sale at outdoor festival
WendyOlsenPhotography / Getty Images

The Hatch Valley Chile Festival is canceled in 2020.

Celebrate hot peppers in every form at the Hatch Valley Chile Festival in small-town Hatch, New Mexico, which is two and a half hours from Albuquerque but worth a car rental to get chiles fresh from the source. You won't be alone though, as the two-day event usually has more than 30,000 visitors from around the United States. The festival features world-famous Hatch chile recipes, arts and crafts, chile-eating contests, and a carnival with rides. Festival-goers can sample the famed chiles, watch the crowning of the chile festival queen, or toss horseshoes. 

The price of admission is family-friendly, charged per carload as opposed to per person.

07 of 10

Cleveland Millfest

Cleveland Millfest is canceled in 2020.

Every year since 1987, the Cleveland Roller Mill Museum, an early 20th-century three-story adobe roller mill, has hosted the Cleveland Millfest on Labor Day weekend. The event includes mill history exhibits, arts and crafts, food, music, and more. You can take a tour to see this water-powered flour mill in action. Cleveland, New Mexico, is two hours and 45 minutes away by car from Albuquerque, so while you're in the area, stop by the nearby historic Salman Ranch in Mora to pick fresh raspberries. 

The arts and crafts fair is free, but there are fees for parking at the mill and visiting the museum.

08 of 10

Osuna Nursery Tomato Festival

As of August 10, 2020, there is no Tomato Festival scheduled for Labor Day 2020 at Osuna Nursery.

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, get your tomatoes on at the Osuna Nursery Tomato Festival in Albuquerque. Not only can you taste plenty of the red fruit often mistaken for a vegetable but you can experience food demonstrations and other activities. The early-day event will be held at Osuna Nursery Center, a local gardening center; the nonprofit Street Food Institute, "dedicated to shaping a healthy, sustainable and creative food future across New Mexico," is assisting with putting on the event.

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09 of 10

Jam Out to Local Songwriters

As of August 10, 2020, there are no Songwriter Sundays scheduled for summer 2020 at High and Dry Brewing.

On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, one option is to watch local live musicians sing while you sip on craft beer, kombucha, or non-alcoholic drinks. High and Dry Brewing and Jams of Enchantment host a Songwriter Sundays gathering every first Sunday afternoon of the month. The event is located at High and Dry Brewing, a local craft brewery and taproom in the Highland Neighborhood run by a group of family and friends. Check out the food trucks and patio while you are there.

10 of 10

Party on the Patio

Entrance to Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Jonny Brownbill / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0


As of August 10, 2020, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Pueblo Harvest are both closed until further notice.

Inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and less than 10 minutes by car from Old Town Albuquerque, you'll find Pueblo Harvest, a restaurant and bakery known for its beloved New Native American Cuisine. Don't miss their Party on the Patio on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Whether you fancy pizza or something from the taco bar, the event is all you can eat and takes place on an outdoor patio. They also offer appetizers, cocktails, and craft beer from top local breweries.

The cover charge includes live music, dancing, and good times.