1 Dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Nutcracker in the Land of Enchantment

A hybrid version of the beloved Tchaikovsky classic that also spotlights New Mexico’s unique culture, Nutcracker in the Land of Enchantment is choreographed by Patricia Dickinson Wells and performed by members of Festival Ballet Albuquerque at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The blend of stories includes classic New Mexican characters like Mr. Coyote, Zozobra, a Storyteller doll, and Spanish dancers.

“I have always had a vision, since I moved to New Mexico in 1990, of having a regional Nutcracker,” says Dickinson Wells, artistic director of Festival Ballet Albuquerque. “I really respect and have always loved New Mexico heritage, traditions, and cultures.” Look forward to the Nutcracker songs we all know and love with regional additions that include flamenco dancers. The ballet, which begins in the late 1800s and follows the Pacheco family, also features a rat king with a golden cholla crown and characters dancing through a piñon forest. “It’s been an evolution,” Dickinson Wells says.

The Nutcracker at the Spencer Theater

The Ruidoso Academy of Ballet puts on a big holiday show this weekend, with a cast of 70 dancers performing Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The Spencer Theater near Ruidoso provides three opportunities to catch the show—on Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m., and again on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Santa Fe's Museum Hill lights up for Winter Stroll on Saturday night. Photograph courtesy of Winter Stroll.

2 Be merry and bright. 

Lights of Los Luceros

Take a cheery stroll through Los Luceros Historic Site in Alcalde on Saturday during its Christmas gathering, Lights of Los Luceros, from 6 to 9 p.m. See stunning, centuries-old adobe buildings and the Territorial-style hacienda glammed up with holiday lights and farolitos, while humming along to live holiday tunes. Sip hot mulled wine from Black Mesa Winery and soak in the holiday glow in grand old New Mexico style.

Winter Glow Holiday Stroll

Farolitos line the pathways of Museum Hill during the Winter Glow Holiday Stroll on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. The Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden host activities aimed at family fun, including crafts, carols, and performances, including 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, from Santa Fe Classic Theater actors. “We’re hosting a new program this year called Night Tree,” says Cristina Salvador, associate operations director at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. “We have our gardens decorated in lights and farolitos to provide a festive winter stroll.” There will be hot chocolate and a roaring fire in the horno to keep warm under the starry winter skies.

Holiday on the Hill

Get free admission to the Museum of Space History in Alamogordo on Saturday during the out-of-this-world festive fiesta, Holiday on the Hill. Enjoy holiday carolers and seasonally themed activities: Hit the second floor, where kids can make a Christmas catapult, a cloud in a bottle, solar system holiday ornaments, and snap a pic dressed in a spacesuit on the museum’s lunar landscape set. Catch a showing of the film Mystery of the Christmas Star in the planetarium, where admission is two cans of food, a donation to the museum’s holiday food drive.

Winter Stroll at the Palace

Holiday songs bathe the historic Palace of the Governors in celestial sounds on Sunday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., during the Winter Stroll at the Palace. During the seasonal open house, you can enter the building on Palace Avenue, across from the Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand stage (and under the riotously colorful lights of the Santa Fe Plaza). Inside, cruise through the oldest continuously occupied building in the U.S. while doing the Christmas-party hop.

Leather products by Modern Muse can be found at the Vital Spaces Winter Market. Photograph courtesy of Vital Spaces Winter Market.

3 Get to giving.

Vital Spaces Winter Market

Shop local at the Vital Spaces Winter Market on Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. Vital Spaces, a nonprofit that helps provide studio space to artists, brings more than 50 makers, artists, and artisans to the Farmers’ Market Pavilion in the Railyard, where you can shop for handcrafted jewelry, greeting cards, ceramics, art prints, bath and body products, clothing, and more. Sip on hot chocolate, hot cider, and hard kombucha, and snack on s’mores and bizcochitos while you shop.

The Los Ranchos Holiday Market

Pups are welcome at the pop-up Los Ranchos Holiday Market, held outdoors at the site of the Los Ranchos Growers’ Market. It happens from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday with over 35 makers and artists participating. Look forward to steamy drinks to warm you up, raffles with handmade prizes, and a plethora of free parking.

The New Mexico Bowl winner receives one of the most interesting trophies in all of college football. Photograph courtesy of the New Mexico Bowl.

4 Cheer for New Mexico.

Wear your warmest coat and head to University Stadium in Albuquerque on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to see the Brigham Young University Cougars face the Southern Methodist University Mustangs in the New Mexico Bowl. The victors will take home one of the most stunning and unique trophies in college football, a clay pot made by Marcellus and Elizabeth Medina from Zia Pueblo. Buy your tickets beforehand via this link.

Mariachi Mexico Mestizo is among those performing at Maricahi Christmas. Photograph courtesy of Maricahi Christmas.

5 Have yourself a Mexican Christmas.

Mariachi Christmas is an annual holiday concert filled with beautiful costumes, talented dancers, and wonderful musicians who take the stage at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center. It happens Friday at 7:30 p.m., with a social hour beforehand at 6:30 p.m. where attendees can snack on posole and bizcochitos. Featuring Mariachi Mexico Mestizo and ballet folklórico dancers from the University of Texas at Río Grande Valley, the performance will highlight dance and song styles from different regions of Mexico.