The best time to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, is typically late spring (May) and early fall (after Labor Day and before first week of October). During these times, summer’s peak season hasn’t yet hit, and the lull between two of the state’s top festivals offers a reprieve from pricey accommodations.
Whenever you decide to visit, use this guide to help plan your trip to this city known for its multicultural influences, art scene, and distinctive regional cuisine.
The Weather in Santa Fe
Santa Fe has four seasons, with temperatures to match. Winter brings snow and lows in the teens at night and the mid-30s F during the day. Summers, on the other hand, can be quite warm with the highs occasionally climbing into the low 90s F, especially in July and August. However, average temperatures hover in the mid-80s F. Because of Santa Fe’s summer highs, it may be best to visit in early May or late September to avoid the hotter days.
Santa Fe has a high-desert landscape, but it also sits at the base of mountain peaks at more than 7,000 feet in elevation. That type of climate can cause unexpected temperature swings throughout the day, sometimes varying as much as 40 degrees F. Dressing in layers is high fashion in Santa Fe.
Peak Season in Santa Fe
Peak tourist season in Santa Fe is typically during the summer months and early fall, particularly in July, August, and September. Prices climb during peak season with higher costs for hotels, flights, and outings like tours. If you’re looking to travel at this time—and it is a great time to visit thanks to Santa Fe’s art markets—book six months to a year in advance to avoid paying higher prices. The city can feel especially crowded during this period since many people with second homes in Santa Fe will be in town during the summer for the season’s cultural events.
The winter is a slower season in Santa Fe, particularly after holiday festivities. Although the slopes of Ski Santa Fe keep tourists steadily trickling through the city, crowds are smaller and accommodations are more affordable. Winter temperatures can drop into the teens, but the sun still shines.
Events to check out: January begins with Native American Pueblo dances on New Year’s Day to mark the Transfer of the Canes (the passing of leadership from one governor to the next). Many of the northern Pueblos around Santa Fe mark the occasion with traditional dances, including turtle, corn, and cloud dances.
This is one of the slowest months for tourists in Santa Fe.
Events to check out: Santa Fe Restaurant Week grants diners discounts for some of the city’s top restaurants.
The last bits big snowstorms of the season hit this month and temperatures can remain chilly. Tourists flock to the city during the middle of the month on school spring break trips.
Events to check out: Ski Santa Fe’s season wraps up this month.
This is one of the quietest times to visit Santa Fe. The weather starts to warm after deep winter freezes. Some tourists travel to the city to mark Easter. It’s a fitting place do it; Santa Fe’s full name is La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís ("The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi").
Events to check out: Santa Fe’s Pro Musica Baroque Ensemble presents performances in honor of Holy Week in the historic Loretto Chapel.
Tourist season heats up this month, though it doesn’t hit a high point until Memorial Day weekend. The city’s weather is unpredictable. Temperatures warm, but the occasional late-season snowstorm keeps jackets handy. Because school is still in session and it’s not yet peak tourist season, this month is a good time to check out museums, cultural centers, and top restaurants that will be more crowded during the summer.
Events to check out: Santa Fe’s athletic side is in the spotlight when cyclists hit the road for the Santa Fe Century ride.
June heats up—both weather wise and in terms of the tourist season. Warm, but not overly hot, and gloriously sunny days are typical this month.
Events to check out: Santa Fe’s art scene takes a contemporary turn with the Currents New Mexico Festival. The Rodeo de Santa Fe, a city tradition since 1949, hits the arena with customary rodeo events including bareback and bull riding, and roping. Santa Fe Bandstand, the city’s favorite summer concert series, hits the historic downtown Plaza with a lineup of several-times-a-week free concerts in genres from rock to salsa.
Summer is in full swing. The weather is hot and so is the calendar of events. Several of the city’s marque events occur in July in August. If you aren’t planning on attending these events, plan on visiting other months.
Events to check out: The Santa Fe Opera raises the curtain on its six-week summer season with a revolving line-up of iconic and world premiere performances. The world comes to Santa Fe during the International Folk Art Market, the world’s largest art market.
Spanish Market Weekend takes over downtown with Traditional Spanish Market and Contemporary Hispanic Market, featuring fine artists and artisans selling Spanish Colonial–era media and modern works.
Summer heat is tempered by afternoon rainstorms that can send travelers flocking into museums and cultural centers in the afternoon. To best enjoy these attractions, visit them in the morning. However, you’ll have to weigh this option against beating the heat with morning hikes or mountain bike rides.
Events to check out: The city’s most popular event, Santa Fe Indian Market, takes over downtown the third weekend of the month with a renowned art market and adjacent gallery shows.
This is the most temperate month in Santa Fe, which makes it one of the best and busiest times to visit.
Events to check out: The Burning of Zozobra falls at the end of August or beginning of September over Labor Day Weekend. Santa Fe artists created this tradition, which involves burning a 40-foot-tall marionette in effigy, more than 90 years ago.
Fiesta de Santa Fe is the longest continuously running celebration in the U.S. The nine-day celebration includes parades, mariachi extravaganzas, processions, and other events. It kicks off Labor Day weekend after the Burning of Zozobra.
Temperatures start to cool this month, as does the tourist season after the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Although that top-billed event is held 50 miles south of Santa Fe in Albuquerque, its 800,000 visitors flow north to visit the City Different as well.
Events to check out: The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival celebrates the cinematic arts with indie film screenings around town and local filmmaker panels.
Other than April, this is the quietest month in Santa Fe. Travelers should plan for snowfall later in the month.
Events to check out: The Ski Santa Fe season typically kicks off Thanksgiving weekend; however, the opening is weather dependent.
December is magical in Santa Fe. Chilly weather calls for wandering snow-dusted adobe lanes and breathing in the crisp air scented with the aroma of piñon wood smoke from fireplaces. The city marks the season with Christmas pageants, holiday lights, and Pueblo dances.
Events to check out: Las Posadas, a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging and the birth of Jesus, processes through the plaza and ends at the New Mexico Museum of History mid-December. The eight northern Pueblos around Santa Fe mark the holidays with traditional dances on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Santa Fe glows with the lighting of farolitos (paper bags with candles inside) lining the historic plaza and Canyon Road on Christmas Eve at dusk.