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  • Lisa Parsons

The Festival of Farolitos Along Canyon Road in Santa Fe New Mexico

Christmas Eve in Santa Fe

Farolitos, Christmas lights, and people walking carrying lights with a slow shutter speed

I used to pine for Christmas. I enjoyed shopping for gifts and then carefully wrapping them in beautiful wrapping paper. I loved decorating the tree and baking. I loved the holiday.

Last year I had the best family Christmas. However, the last few years, though, I’d grown tired of the frenzy of shopping and gift giving. This year I wanted to do something different.

On December 14th David and I started our adventure traveling around the U.S. and Canada. We decided to spend Christmas in Santa Fe and attend the Farolitos Canyon Road Walk. It is a yearly event where all the businesses, art galleries, shops, restaurants line the streets with bags weighted with sand and holding a single candle called farolitos or luminaries. People would come from all over the world to spend the evening walking the street, drinking hot apple cider or cocoa, and enjoying the farolitos and other Christmas lights.

Walking through downtown Santa Fe with the dogs exploring the cathedrals, and adobe architecture

We spent most of the day downtown shopping at the Indian Market, window shopping through the gallery windows, and drinking coffee outside in the warmer sun of the day. At 4pm we attended a concert in a small cathedral. It was just two musicians, one playing a cello, and a young woman with a beautiful voice that filled the cathedral with a lilting sound that moved from one note to the other. It was enchanting and I closed my eyes just to feel the sound.

At sunset we joined the throngs of people on Canyon Street and started the walk through the lights. There were warming fires along the way as well as Christmas light displays, and thinking lights in the trees. Some galleries were open and their windows filled with light. A sculpture garden was lit up with spot lights on the sculptures and a trail of farolitos lighting the walkways.

There was music and laughter. Families dressed in Christmas lights. Some people dressed in Christmas costumes and Santa made his way through the crowd handing out candy and Christmas wishes.

Rustic doorway with farolitos lining the wall above

It was a magical way to spend the holiday in the cold air of winter in a city that I had associated with Georgia O’keefe and southwestern art my whole life. The community came alive under the lights and I saw this one small picture of what America is in one town on Christmas eve.

Georgia O'keefe Museum

Things to do on Christmas Even in Santa Fe.

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