1 Lift off for White Sands.  

See hot air balloons lift off from the dunes at White Sands National Park during the White Sands Balloon Glow Invitational on Saturday starting at 7 a.m. On Saturday evening, a colorful balloon glow happens at Ed Brabson Balloon Park from 6 to 10 p.m. with an arts market, dunk tank, dance performances, live music, a bounce house, and food vendors. Then return for another balloon mass ascension from the park on Sunday at 7 a.m.

Spanish Harlem Orchestra performs at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Sunday and the Albuquerque Museum on Monday as part of the New Mexico Jazz Festival. Photograph courtesy of the New Mexico Jazz Festival.

2 Get jazzed.

The 17th annual New Mexico Jazz Festival brings some of the most talented jazz musicians to perform at venues throughout the state, including the Lensic Performing Arts Center, in Santa Fe; Outpost Performance Space, in Albuquerque; and the Harwood Museum of Art, in Taos. While the concerts last through September 30, this weekend brings a slew of jazzy events to the Land of Enchantment.

Stefon Harris and Blackout

This modern ensemble fuses jazz techniques with R&B, pop, and hip-hop. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Harris brings an infectious energy to his performances. Catch him at the Lensic Performing Arts Center Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Christian McBride

Over 30 years in jazz has made this eight-time Grammy Award-winning bassist and composer a superstar. McBride presents his latest band featuring rising star musicians like Nicole Glover, Ely Perlman, Mike King, and Savannah Harris at the Lensic on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. 

Spanish Harlem Orchestra

The three-time Grammy Award-winning salsa and Latin jazz band last visited the New Mexico Jazz Festival in 2018. Led by pianist Oscar Hernández, their performance salsa will have you grooving in your seat. See them at the Lensic on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and the Albuquerque Museum on Monday at 7 p.m.

Come to Ullr Fest dressed as your favorite Viking. Photograph courtesy of Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.

3 Prep for winter.

Pajarito Mountain Ski Area celebrates Ullr, the Norse god of winter, snow, and skiing, with a beer and music festival on Saturday. During Ullr Fest, bike and hike lifts run from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. As part of the festivities, the New Mexico Brew Fest serves up craft beers from 11 local breweries, including Second Street, Red River Brewery, and Palmer Brewery and Cider House from noon–5 p.m. with DK and the Affordables perfoming from 2 to 5 p.m. “People dress up in Viking-themed costumes,” says Christiana Hudson, marketing director at Pajarito Mountain. “It’s a really cool and fun event.”

Full(ish) Professors, a New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology faculty band, performs at SocorroFest on Friday at the Capitol Bar. Photograph courtesy of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

4 Feel the music.

Two days, three stages, and lots of fun. That’s the heart of SocorroFest, which brings a great lineup of rock, pop, country, and jazz musicians to the Socorro Plaza, Capitol Bar, and Box Canyon Brewery on Friday (6–9 p.m.) and Saturday (noon–10 p.m.). “Our local music scene is pretty amazing,” says Ronna Kalish, director at the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series.

Saturday’s acts include The End of Innocence, who cover classics from songwriters such as Don Henley, Paul McCartney, and Glenn Fry, and Las Vegas–based Gonzalo, who performs New Mexican tunes. Vendors set up shop around the plaza, selling jewelry and creative works. Look forward to foodie treats and a Spirits Tent featuring drinks from Capitol Bar & Brewery, Bodega Burger Company & Wine Shop, Black Smuggler Winery, and Box Canyon Brewing Company.

Kids can play in a jump house, mine for minerals, and watch demonstrations from the New Mexico Tech’s sports clubs. “It’s a really authentic, accessible, fun community event where everyone feels comfortable,” Kalish says.

The PBS show Bands of Enchantment brings 10 days of music to the Historic KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque. Photograph courtesy of Bands of Enchantment.

5 Jam with the Bands of Enchantment.

Starting Friday and running for 10 nights, some of New Mexico’s best bands perform at the Kimo Theatre for season three of the PBS television series, Bands of Enchantment. Prism Bitch, an indie rock group who just returned from a tour opening for the grizzled indie favorites Built to Spill, opens with a concert on Friday. This series presents cool opportunities to see emerging groups take the stage in a historic space for a small ticket price ($5). Other bands include Black Joe Lewis, The Stone Foxes, Cordovas, Moontricks, and more. Get tickets here.

Read more: For more things to do, check out our online calendar of events.