THIS IS NOT your kids’ holiday bedtime story. The Santa Fe Playhouse’s production of The Night Before Christmas takes place in a warehouse on Christmas Eve, when workers apprehend an intruder dressed as an elf. They must decide whether to call the cops on the burglar, who insists he works for an “international gift distribution agency” and fell off a sleigh. “It’s a gritty style,” says Colin Hovde, Santa Fe Playhouse executive director and interim artistic director. Running November 30 through December 23, the one-act comedy written by Scottish playwright Anthony Neilson “devolves and evolves from there,” he says. “The play really asks questions about what is at the core of this holiday we call Christmas. It can turn into this commodification about buying things. But, really, it’s about kindness.”

Get a babysitter. While there are elves and Christmas-related fodder, the play is not meant for children. “So much of this play is about the cynicism of being an adult,” says Hovde. “It gets at the heart of what we should celebrate.”

Keep an open mind. There are important moments in the play that trick you into thinking you know what’s happening. “Notice when your cynicism comes up and when you’re able to let it go,” he says. “This piece is about how we, as adults, lost the magic.”

Unwrap the joy. “I always think of theater as a gift,” Hovde says. “So much of this play revolves around the idea of giving. It’s about rediscovering the magic of childhood.”

The Night Before Christmas
November 30–December 23
Santa Fe Playhouse, 142 E. De Vargas St., Santa Fe; 505-988-4262

Brilliant displays on docks and islands and in backyards light up the Pecos River. Photograph by NMTD.


Christmas on the Pecos
November 24—December 31

See lighted islands, backyards, and holiday scenes along the river on this 40-minute boat ride that departs from Pecos River Park, in Carlsbad.

Twinkle Light Parade
December 2

Grab your mittens and head to Albuquerque’s Nob Hill, where Central Avenue shuts down for holiday shoppers to visit local businesses. Then catch the parade filled with twinkling floats.

Los Alamos WinterFest
December 2—4

A weekend of winter fun in Los Alamos includes gnome painting, holiday ballet, Santa’s Workshop, and a holiday-lights parade with the theme “There’s Gnome Place Like Home.”

Warm up during Bonfires on Bent Street, in Taos. Photograph courtesy of Town of Taos.

String of Lights Holiday Market
December 9

Holiday cheer and creative artisans take over the Farmers’ Market Pavilion in the Santa Fe Railyard.

Native American Portal Artisans’ Winter Youth Show
December 9

The New Mexico History Museum, in Santa Fe, hosts a two-day market featuring young Indigenous artists who come from families with elders who participate in the Native American Artisans Portal Program.

Bonfires on Bent Street
December 9

Little bonfires and oodles of farolitos line Taos’s Bent Street, where shops stay open for caroling, warm treats, and holiday shopping.

Elephant Butte Luminaria Beach Walk & Floating Lights Parade
December 9

Gather ’round bonfires in pits dug into the beach, which is decked in festive lights, farolitos, and holiday-themed decor.

Shop locally made goodies, like Bate Bate Chocolates, at the Holiday Market at the Railyards. Photograph courtesy of the City of Albuquerque.

Holiday Market at the Rail Yards
December 9 & 10

Shop an array of locally made gifts and goodies at this Albuquerque market that includes edible treats, handmade crafts, and bath and body products.

Candlelight Carols
December 9—22

Artistic director Joshua Habermann conducts the Santa Fe Desert Chorale’s annual holiday concert, A Glimpse of Snow and Evergreen.

Mariachi Christmas
December 16

Mexico’s Christmas traditions, expressed through talented musicians and dancers, come to the Macey Center theater at New Mexico Tech, in Socorro.

A Celtic Family Christmas
December 19

Married fiddle maestros Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy perform Celtic holiday songs with their children at the Lensic, in Santa Fe.

Donnell Leahy, Natalie MacMaster, and their family perform at the Lensic. Photograph courtesy of Rebekah Littlejohn.

Joe Illick & The New Year’s Eve Orchestra
December 31

Get the party started in the afternoon at the Lensic, in Santa Fe, with a repertoire of classic songs from conductor Joe Illick and a great orchestral ensemble.

New Year’s Eve on the Plaza
December 31

See the Zia symbol rise over the Santa Fe Plaza at midnight. The event features fireworks, little bonfires, hot chocolate, and music.

Las Cruces Chile Drop
December 31

The 10th annual celebration on the Plaza de Las Cruces includes a kids’ zone and live music until the 19-foot chile drops. Will it be red or green this year?

That’s not all December has in store! Go to for more.