1 Elevate your weekend.
The La Mesa Airfield in Ratón hosts the International Santa Fe Trail Balloon Rally this weekend. Balloons lift off daily at 6:30 a.m. Saturday through Monday. The Ratón Elks Lodge cooks a pancake breakfast every morning from 6 to 10 a.m.—gobble a plate of pancakes, sausage, fruit, and coffee or juice for $8. DJ Ratón, Ted Romero, performs and leads games for kids. “Ratón is the place to be on the Fourth of July weekend,” says Brenda Ferri, executive director of Ratón MainStreet. “We have a parade and street fair on historic First Street followed by the best fireworks show around.”
2 Go full fiesta.
Fiestas de Las Vegas is an annual party that has taken over the town’s plaza for 134 years. “It’s a fun combination of music, food, and a great atmosphere,” says Charles Griego, event planner for the city of Las Vegas. “People who were raised here, or have grandparents here, make their yearly trek back home for the event. They remember going as kids with their families, and it makes it a really special time.”
The fiesta happens Friday through Monday, with vendors opening around 10 a.m. Music starts up an hour later, lasting through to 11 p.m. On Friday night, expect a Mariachi Extravaganza—with dancing. The rest of the weekend includes traditional New Mexican tunes, country music, and rock. Fiestas includes a carnival, too. “After the fires, the smoke, and now the floods we’re facing in the aftermath of the fires, people in our community really need to get out and unwind,” Griego says. “I think it will make this year extra special.” Catch all the fun in the Plaza Park.
3 Celebrate Native culture.
Two days of artist demonstrations, food, and musical performances help the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture’s celebrate the opening of its new permanent exhibit, Here, Now and Always, on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill. The exhibition features over 600 objects that highlight the history, knowledge, stories, and practices of the 19 New Mexico pueblos as well as other tribes around the Southwest. The curatorial team worked with Indigenous community members and scholars to create this collection of textiles, ceramics, baskets, jewelry, fashion, and videos to tell a story about what the past, present, and continuity of Native life looks like. On Saturday and Sunday, activities begin at 10 a.m. and go into the late afternoon. Artist demonstrations, dances, live music, and catered meals take place both days.
4 Blast off to Alamogordo.
Live music, STEM projects, and rocket launches blast off in Alamogordo on Saturday at the Big Bang Festival. Take the whole family and head to the Otero County Fairgrounds to find space-themed activities like trash can launches, an air cannon demonstration, and the chance to get a photo with an astronaut. Organized by the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation, the gift shop will be stocked with rocket kits, which museum educators will help to set up and launch throughout the afternoon. “One of our biggest goals is to raise awareness about the foundation and what it does,” says Johnny Powell, the foundation’s president. “We want to re-engage the people of Alamogordo, Otero County, and all of New Mexico in the mission of the International Space Hall of Fame.” Kite and drone demonstrations, solar observing telescopes, a performance by Home Grown Boyz, food vendors, and beer and wine are also on the docket. Tickets are $15, and free for museum members and kids.
5 Sip New Mexico wines.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas hosts the 28th annual Santa Fe Wine Festival on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The festival brings winemakers from throughout the state to the historic property, where attendees can sip different varieties, shop a local artisan market, and snack on scrumptious treats. Sheehan Winery, Noisy Water, Gruet, and New Mexico Hard Cider are just a few of the participants, plus bites from Jambo Café, Bruno’s Pizza, Molly’s Crepes, and many more. “The festival celebrates New Mexico as the oldest wine-growing region in the country,” says Daniel Goodman, museum director at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas. “The festival is a chance to explore this historic property, learn more about cultures of New Mexico, and drink deep in our state’s history.”