THE BELOVED RITUAL of Las Posadas returns to the Santa Fe Plaza at 5:30 p.m. on December 11. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for locals to share this tradition with visitors, as we engage in a rich cultural experience that is found throughout Hispanic communities in New Mexico,” says Alicia Romero, head curator at the New Mexico History Museum, which sponsors the event. 

On December 9 and 10, the remnants of Giusewa Pueblo and the San José de los Jemez Mission are lit up with hundreds of farolitos from 5 to 9 p.m. during the Light Among the Ruins event at Jemez Historic Site. Both evenings include performances of Native flute music and Jemez Pueblo dances, as well as an arts and crafts fair and treats for sale.

“We make 35 gallons of green chile stew,” says Friends of Elephant Butte Lake State Park vice president Charlie Warren, describing preparations for the park’s annual bonfire celebration. “There are 25 spots, and each one has a 12-foot-wide and 6-foot-deep firepit.” The Elephant Butte Luminaria Beachwalk begins at dusk on December 10.

From 4 to 7 p.m. on December 10, downtown Taos is illuminated by Bonfires on Bent Street, a three-decades-old block party that includes music, dancing, hot chile and soup, and plenty of holiday camaraderie, all sponsored by local merchants.

Pecos National Historical Park hosts evening holiday events on December 19 and 20. “The first night is more of a traditional experience,” says Becky Latanich, the park’s chief of interpretation and education, referring to the Las Posadas procession led by locals from St. Anthony Parish, with musicians that include a harpist. The next night’s Farolito Walk is accompanied by the Santa Fe Brass Quintet. “It’s really for people who want to just come and see the lights and the ambience of it all.” A shuttle to the park leaves from the town of Pecos.

Luminarias light up Mesilla Plaza. Photograph courtesy of Mesilla.

The Taylor-Mesilla Historic Property, located on the historic Mesilla Plaza, hosts a Nacimiento Open House in the latter half of December, so visitors can view J. Paul Taylor’s collection of more than 185 nativity scenes in his home. Check the website for more information.

On Christmas Eve in Mesilla, enjoy Christmas Carols and Luminarias on the Plaza from 5 to 7 p.m. “It is such an amazing feeling of community on that night,” says Old Mesilla event coordinator Dorothy Sellers. “Everybody comes together.”

ABQ Ride’s Luminaria Tour, held December 24, offers 45-minute bus trips through light celebrations in the city of Albuquerque, including Old Town. Tours originate from the downtown convention center.

With gallerists handing out hot cider and Santafesinos decked out in holiday glam, the Canyon Road Farolito Walk is the place to go in Santa Fe after dark on December 24. “It’s a neighborhood event that celebrates the unique New Mexico culture of luminarias and farolitos,” says Nancy Ouimet, president of the Canyon Road Merchants Association. “The nature of Canyon Road is long and narrow, and with the beautiful adobe walls and the historic buildings, it really makes for a very inventive presentation.”

Read more: Maizie blue has guided Solo the Yak in the famously quirky Madrid Christmas parade since she was three years old.