NOVEMBER 2, 9, 16, 18–23
A 1941 count at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (pictured) turned up only 17 sandhill cranes across the refuge’s 57,331 acres. This year, some 9,000 of the graceful birds will be settling into their winter home during the popular Festival of the Cranes (November 18–23), which celebrates the conservation success story with hikes, tours, lectures, and workshops in the Socorro area (575-835-2077; Though the numbers of cranes, snow geese, and raptors at Las Vegas’s Fall Flight Festival are fewer, “you have more freedom up here to spread your own wings and look around,” says Jan Arrott, a co-founder of Friends of Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge. On the first four Sundays in November, the refuge will open back roads for self-guided driving tours, facilitated by “roving naturalists” along the way who lend their birding telescopes and expertise (505-454-6115; To learn about observing the avian activities at the Corrales Bosque Preserve,


Artesia’s Balloons & Tunes Festival is “a more intimate hot-air balloon rally than the big one in Albuquerque,” says Vickie Grousnick, the event coordinator. But if it can’t compete for size, it would certainly hold its own in a banjo duel. Formerly Balloons & Bluegrass, the festival debuts with a 30-balloon Saturday morning launch, then takes a distinctively New Mexican turn as an arts-and-crafts fair kicks up its heels to live pickin’ from the Gore Brothers and Lost Howlin’ Coyotes. After the evening “fire concert,” where balloon pilots tug their burners in time to a high school band performance, indie roots rockers Uncle Lucius will unleash their own barn burners from a downtown stage. (575) 746-2744;


“I live too many miles from the ocean, and I’m getting older and odd,” Patty Griffin sings on her album Silver Bell. Recorded in 2000 but shelved at her label’s behest, it was finally released last year along with a new recording, American Kid. The consistency between the two bookends is proof that her brand of tuneful songcraft has maintained its sharpness over the years. On November 7, she plays the 450-seat James A. Little Theater, in Santa Fe. Opening is the Grammy-nominated Oklahoma singer-songwriter John Fullbright, whose new album, Songs, has drawn comparisons to Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. (505) 988-1234;

NOVEMBER 14, 16, 19

For the first time ever, both UNM and NMSU enter the new basketball season hoping to extend runs of three straight NCAA tournament appearances. On November 14 at the Pit in Albuquerque, Cullen Neal and Hugh Greenwood look to make up for Cameron Bairstow’s departure for the Chicago Bulls as the Lobos tip off against Idaho State. Cal State Fullerton is next up, on November 16 (505-925-5858; The Aggies, meanwhile, face a 7’5”, 360-pound hole at center in the shape of Sim Bhullar, who recently became the first player of Indian descent to sign an NBA contract. They’ll play a home opener in Las Cruces November 19 against Northern Colorado before heading down Interstate 10 on November 22 for a rivalry game against UTEP. (575) 646-1420;


While fighting in Vietnam, Michael Naranjo of Santa Clara Pueblo lost his sight and the use of his right hand to a grenade. Remarkably, he went on to become an award-winning sculptor. Among other honors, a special platform was once built for him so he could feel the contours of Michelangelo’s David. This year’s Weems International Artfest honors Naranjo at a Friday reception that will benefit Albuquerque’s Vets Heading Home project. For the rest of the weekend, well-known artists and craftsmen will sell works including paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and holiday gifts in the Manuel Lujan building on the state fairgrounds in Albuquerque. Kids under 12 can buy pieces for less than $10 at the Children’s ArtSmart, where a special fund helps ensure that no one goes home empty-handed. (505) 293-6133; 


It may sound like a specialized trade organization, but the Pecos Valley Potters’ Guild has a purpose nearly as broad as the valley itself: Members are “really dedicated to keeping art alive in the Roswell area,” says Jessica Kirk, coordinator of the Pecos Valley Potters’ Guild Art Sale. Now in its third decade, the show embraces not only pottery but also other handcrafted works like Fatima Barnes’ ceramic figures and Caroline Brooks’ festive felt shoes. In between browsing the dozens of booths in the Roswell Civic Center, visitors can paint their own designs on tiles for a municipal memorial to be installed in Reichman Park. Art, it seems, will live on. (806) 474-4007;

NOVEMBER 15, 26–27

Leave Christmas to Bing Crosby—here in New Mexico, we dream of a white Thanksgiving, when turkeys won’t be the only thing we carve. Taos (575-776-2291;, Pajarito (505-662-5725;, and, weather permitting, Santa Fe (505-982-4429; and Apache (575-464-3600; all start their ski seasons on Thanksgiving Day. Red River opens a day earlier, on November 26, then celebrates the holiday with a frozen-turkey-sledding race down the bunny slopes (575-754-2223; The early bird award, however, goes to Sipapu, south of Taos, which gets its traditional head start on November 15. If the year’s first untouched powder isn’t enough to get you feeling like a kid again, there’ll be live music and New Mexico brewers pouring specials. Stacey Glaser of Sipapu promises: “It’s a big party.” (800) 587-2240;

NOVEMBER 16, 29–30

In 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach composed a Magnificat to mark his first Christmas in Leipzig, where he would spend the last decades of his life cementing his place as the rare composer to have groups dedicated, centuries later, solely to performing his work. The New Mexico Bach Chorale will sing the Magnificat three times this month under the baton of former Metropolitan Opera conductor Franz Vote: first at Bach Festival in Las Vegas (November 16), where it joins local choirs and musicians for an all-afternoon event, then at a Winter Solstice Concert (November 29) at Albuquerque’s St. Paul Lutheran Church. On November 30, the chorale returns to its residency at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, in Santa Fe, where it will add other seasonal works to the program. (505) 474-4513;


New Mexican salsas, tostadas, cheeses, and wines are the flavors of the month at HomeGrown: A New Mexico Food Show and Gift Market, in Las Cruces. “We wanted to do an event right before Thanksgiving so people can include New Mexico products in their cooking or get them as holiday gifts,” explains Rachel Banegas of the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. For $5 a carload, visitors can enjoy live entertainment in the museum’s barnlike, 24,000-square-foot space as they shop from among more than 40 local food merchants—and, of course, sample the goods. “Everything’s a tasting event,” Banegas says. Now that’s the holiday spirit. (575) 522-4100;


On Black Friday, let the hordes have the mall and the pre-dawn big-box campouts. Instead, at a civilized hour, join the ranks of culturally aware shoppers headed to Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town for Winter Spanish Market (November 28–29), where juried-in artists display traditional handmade pieces like bultos, retablos, and straw appliqué (505-982-2226; To keep the weekend spree going, head up the highway to the Santa Fe Convention Center, where Winter Indian Market (November 29–30) invites back this year’s award-winning artists to show some of their more affordable pieces alongside the museum-quality work the summer event is known for. (505) 983-5220;


For three nights this month, the acrobats, dancers, clowns, and stilt walkers of the community-minded circus theater group Wise Fool New Mexico will take over the Lensic in Santa Fe for a performance as mysterious as the moon itself—and as enchanting. Deirdre Morris, the writer and director of this year’s edition of Circus Luminous, drew inspiration for her story from “The Distance of the Moon,” by Italo Calvino. Stepping outside helped, too. “I’ve lived in New Mexico for 14 years, and the sky is amazing there,” she says. “You can’t really miss the moon.” (505) 992-2588;