Brenda Rae stars in the opera Lucia dei Lammermoor, one of the operas scheduled at Santa Fe Opera this season. Photography Courtesy Santa Fe Opera.

Independence Day weekend inspires star-spangled celebrations in every corner of the state. Albuquerque hosts its outsize display at Freedom 4th at Balloon Fiesta Park. Country music all-star Clint Black entertains, a microbrew beer garden slakes thirsts, and more than 30 food vendors offer enough burgers, burritos, and hot dogs to feed the Continental Army. Plus, there’s no charge to attend; freedom really is free (505-768-3556; The Red White and Brew festival includes plenty of beer and wine to sample in Las Cruces, June 30–July 2 (575-522-1232; Rio Rancho rejoices with barbecue, beers, bouncy houses, and pig races at the 14th annual Pork & Brew, July 1–3. Twice-daily pie-eating contests keep the 15,000 attendees at the Santa Ana Star Center entertained between musical sets and market browsing (505-891-7258; In Alamogordo, one of the state’s biggest fireworks shows explodes above the New Mexico Museum of Space History on July 4, with larger shells and a new firing location that provides outstanding views from just about anywhere around the Sacramento Mountains. Purchase VIP parking passes to get the very best seats (575-437-2840; At El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the Santa Fe Wine Festival invites visitors to sample primo New Mexico vino in a historic setting, July 1–2 (505-471-2261; In Las Vegas, the Meadow City commemorates the 139th Las Vegas Fiestas, June 30–July 4, with a parade, fireworks, and music sure to get the whole family dancing.

The view from the Crosby Theatre won’t be the only impressive thing about the beloved Santa Fe Opera’s 61st season, running June 30–August 26. In addition to Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, Strauss' Die Fledermaus, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and Handel’s Alcina, the schedule includes the world premiere of The(R)evolution of Steve Jobs. It’s Santa Fe’s 15th world premiere, and promises to make waves in the opera world. Composer Mason Bates calls it “the story of a man who learns to be human again.” The time-jumping production follows the titular Apple founder from his family’s garage in 1965 to his funeral in the Stanford Memorial Chapel in 2011. Edward Parks plays Jobs, and stays onstage for the duration as people close to him weave in and out, bringing with them Bates’ character motifs, infused with nontraditional musical elements like fingerpicked guitar—a personal favorite of Jobs himself. (505) 986-5900;

“What makes us so unique is that it’s outdoors,” organizer Debbie Lujan says of the Taos Pueblo Powwow, July 7–9. Dancers from all across North America pass under a handmade arbor onto the powwow ground as the Taos Mountains backdrop the event. Around 50 traders of authentic Native arts and crafts will join food vendors and drummers. Now in its 32nd year, the powwow’s festivities and competitions are a major social event for the pueblo. “It’s amazing that we’ve come this far,” Lujan says. “It seems to get bigger every year.” (888) 285-6344;

Pick up a new pair of dancing shoes as live music shakes, rattles, and rolls over the state this summer. In Albuquerque, Route 66 Summerfest takes over Nob Hill on July 22, with three stages of music (including headliners Los Lobos), a car show, art market, and other free frivolities for the family (505-768-3556; The always popular Santa Fe Bandstand series offers eight weeks of free concerts from nearly 60 artists on the Plaza and the south side’s Swan Park, July 5–August 25 ( Meanwhile, Kentucky-tinged pickers gather for the Weed Bluegrass Festival, July 14–16 (, and revelers groove on folk and Western swing at the Edgewood Arts & Music Festival, July 28–29 Dwight Yoakam plays Kit Carson Park in Taos on a great bill with the Mavericks on July 29

Wandering through Santa Fe, you may wonder what lies beyond the traditional mud walls that surround the city’s enviable homes. Wonder no more. Returning for its 78th year, the Behind Adobe Walls home and garden tours return July 18 and 25, hosted by the Santa Fe Garden Club. Participants wander through some of the City Different’s most beautiful homes and flower-strewn gardens, with four separate properties each week. (505) 984-0022;

“Artists from pretty much everywhere” come together for the 46th annual Ruidoso Art Festival, July 21–23, says Mirissa Good of the Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce. More than 100 show their works in a juried exhibition and sell to nearly 5,000 art hounds. Previous shows have included Michael and Peter Hurd, Henriette Wyeth, and Western master Gordon Snidow, so you can bet the paintings, jewelry, photography, and sculpture will be world-class (877-784-3676; Whet your appetite with the Lincoln County Art Loop Studio Tour, July 7–9, a 12-artist studio tour from San Patricio to Capitán.

Clay plays an important role in our state’s architecture and art—look no further than the Pueblo pottery that abounds in adobe museums, homes, and stores. Silver City honors all things earthy at CLAY Fest, July 22–30. Over a week of exhibitions, markets, and tours, there’s no shortage of ceramic skill on display—and for purchase—for the event’s 3,000-plus visitors. Renowned potters like Ohkay Owingeh’s Clarence Cruz show their work, and geologists and archaeologists give lectures and workshops that reveal the full picture of all that can be dug up, shaped, carved, and treasured. (575) 538-5560;

The quintessential American rodeo happens under the Gila National Forest pines at the Luna Pioneer Rodeo, July 22. The “Best Little Rodeo in the West” increases the tiny town’s population by a factor of 14 (from 158 to well over 2,000) and includes enough rawhide action to entertain any devotee, including bull riding and the wild cow ride, which pits teams of three cowpokes against a berserking bovine.

The Traditional Spanish Market lands on the Santa Fe Plaza July 29–30. Admirers of New Mexico’s colonial-era craftsmanship will snatch up classic arts and crafts like retablos, tinwork, colchas, pottery, and jewelry. The market begins at the conclusion of ¡Viva La Cultura!, a week of tours, lectures, music, and demonstrations. That same weekend, the Contemporary Hispanic Market brings more than 130 modern artists to Lincoln Avenue. (505) 982-2226,;

Tom Joyce’s innovative art is displayed in Wales, Germany, Russia, France—and now Santa Fe. Joyce received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship, and his monumental metalworks inspire and engage, thanks to his “spiritual connection” to iron, says Center for Contemporary Arts executive director Stuart Ashman. Joyce’s new exhibition at the former Santa Fe armory, Tom Joyce: Everything at Hand, July 28–December 31, includes a diverse array of works—cast and forged iron, mixed media, big, hypnotic photos, and charred drawings made from lowering hot iron onto wooden boards. (505) 982-1338;