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Best festivals and family events in New Mexico

Julie Bielenberg is a Denver-based writer who served as managing editor for a regional home and lifestyle publication before starting Tweeter Communications, her editorial services boutique. With a BA in journalism from the University of...

New Mexico family fun

With loads of Spanish and Native American influence and UFOs to boot, the variety of family fun options in New Mexico celebrates tradition, legend and uniqueness.

family at festival

61st Annual Traditional Spanish Market

Come summer, you won't want to miss this market at Santa Fe Plaza in Santa Fe. It usually occurs the last weekend in July and is coordinated by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. This event is popular for both visitors and locals. Featuring handmade traditional art from over 350 local Hispanic artists, the array of goods is simply gorgeous and at times, overwhelming. There is live music and dance, art demonstrations and scrumptious regional foods each day. This is one of the oldest and largest juried Spanish Markets in the United States.

Location: The Plaza, 54 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Phone: 505.982.2226

Website: www.spanishcolonialblog.org


65th Annual Roswell UFO Festival

Nowhere else can you find such an eclectic festival aside from Star Trek conventions and Star Wars birthday parties. If your kid loves aliens and space creatures, then this is not to miss. It's a three-day event with guest speakers, authors, entertainment, a parade, activities and, the best part, a costume contest—for humans and pets! With plenty of lodging in the area and public bus access, it's a fun and unique event to add to the summer docket in the town of Roswell. Who knows, maybe you will catch sightings of UFOs. This year's festival is June 29th through July 1st, 2012.

Location: Downtown Roswell, NM

Phone: 800.822.3545

Website: www.ufofestivalroswell.com


Santa Fe Indian Market

This year's Santa Fe Indian Market will be held Aug. 18th and 19th. Typically the third weekend of August, this festival is coordinated by the SWAIA (Southwestern Association for Indian Arts). It's a 91-year-old Native art market that boasts the largest and most prestigious Native arts market in the world! It's also the largest cultural event in the Southwest with over 1,100 Native artists from both Canada and the United States. Goods include pottery, jewelry, paintings, textiles, wooden carvings, bead work, baskets and much, much more. This is a fantastic opportunity to introduce children to other cultures and wonderful conversation about different communities and their talents. Live music performances from musicians across the Native spectrum are also a highlight.

Location: The Plaza, 54 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Phone: 505.983.5220

Website: www.swaia.org/Indian_Market/

Centennial Summerfest

Happy birthday to New Mexico! It's the 100th birthday bash and the largest event in the state celebrating The Land of Enchantment's statehood. This year, on June 16th, 2012, there will be an all-day free block party celebrating 100 years of statehood on Central Avenue from 2nd to 10th Streets in Albuquerque featuring dozens of performers in five different pavilions, an arts market, a car show and more. Los Lobos, a Grammy award-winning group, will be performing. This will be capped off with a fireworks celebration. Add in some Irish step dancers and Opera Southwest and you have one heck of a birthday party.

Location: Central Avenue in Albuquerque

Phone: 505.768.3528

Website: www.ABQsummerfest.com


River of Lights

The holidays are magic, especially with the twinkle of the lights at the Botanic Garden in Albuquerque. Thousands of sparking and twinkling lights bring the night sky to life at the largest walk-through light show in New Mexico. For the young and old train buffs, there is a G-scale model railroad carrying special holiday trains. Each year the Garden unveils new displays and sculptures, including life-size creatures from the sea. Local musicians are on hand to add holiday cheer. And children can enjoy a dinner with Santa at the "Supper with Santa" at the Shark Reef Cafe (reservations recommended). Opening night this year is Nov. 26th. The light display is open only on Friday and Saturday nights Dec. 2-3 and 9-10, and then every night Dec. 16-30 (closed on Christmas Eve and Day).

Location: ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, 2601 Central NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Phone: 505.848.7180

Website: www.cabq.gov/biopark/garden/annual-events/river-of-lights


Harvest Festival

Come autumn, the Rio Grande Heritage Farm is alive with the Harvest Festival. This year will be their 8th annual celebration, and it takes place on Oct. 13th and 14th. Seasonal favorites such as pressed cider will warm bellies with the spirit of fall. Demonstrations of harvest from the gardens, orchards and vineyards make this an educational and exciting festival learning about agriculture along the mighty Rio Grande. Music, games, family activities are all part of the weekend. The event is even included with regular admission to the Botanic Garden.

Location: ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden. 2601 Central NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Phone: 505.848.7180

Website: www.cabq.gov/biopark/garden/events/harvest-festival


Summer Nights Concert Series

The Albuquerque Botanic Garden is the place to be come Thursday evenings in summer. Each week there is music, dancing, food, drinks and a friendly gathering to hear the sounds of local and regional talent. Families can purchase tickets on concert nights starting at 6 p.m. or in advance online. (Note: Ticket sales begin in May, $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children 3-12, and free for children under 2.) Gates open at 6 p.m. and concerts begin at 7 p.m. Stroll through the gardens, catch a magic show and view the model train onsite. Outdoor fun and music for everyone.

Location: ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, 2601 Central NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Phone: 505.848.7180

Website: www.cabq.gov/biopark/garden/annual-events/summernights/

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