AS IF A GATHERING OF 200 COLORFUL HOT-AIR BALLOONS isn’t enough, the Red Rock Balloon Rally cranks up the volume with a spectacular setting in Gallup’s Red Rock Park, three days of family-friendly events, and a dash of holiday cheer. “The area we fly is so very special,” says Bill Lee, president of the Red Rock Balloon Rally Association. “Being able to fly in these magnificent canyons that have formed over millions of years and being able to explore the canyons up close makes it an incredible experience.”
Get high: Looking for the best spots to watch? Lee suggests using the Pyramid Rock and Church Rock trails to get atop the cliffs, where you can look down on the balloons and likely see them fly right overhead.
Make it a weekend: Don’t skip the Native art vendors and other special events. On Friday, Indigenous dancers perform alongside the glowing balloons. “To have those happening side by side is really special,” says Lee.
Light it up: Get in the holiday spirit with Saturday’s Christmas Parade through downtown Gallup and that evening’s Balluminaria, at Rio West Mall, which can draw up to 20,000 people.
SWAIA Winter Indian Market, Santa Fe
December 3 & 4
The winter iteration of SWAIA’s Indian Market, held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center this year allows for twice as many artists to participate.
Carlsbad Winter & Wine Festival, Carlsbad
December 9 & 10
Keep warm with a glass of vino at the Carlsbad Winter & Wine Festival, at the Pecos River Village Conference Center.
Elf the Musical, Las Cruces Community Theater, Las Cruces
Baila! Baila! Christmas in New Mexico, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque
December 3 & 4
The Mavericks’ Very Merry Christmas, Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe
December 6 & 7
World Ballet Series: The Nutcracker, Kiva Auditorium, Albuquerque
A John Waters Christmas, Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe
Borderlands Ballet: The Nutcracker, ASNMSU Center for the Arts, Las Cruces
The Nutcracker, Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts, Ruidoso
December 18 & 19