There are two special features to enjoy during the Christmas season that are sponsored by the City of Albuquerque. The cold, crisp air of central New Mexico just adds to the Christmas festivities and the south valley comes to life with artistic light sculptures and the annual tour of the luminarias.
BioPark’s Largest Walk-Through Light Show:
Beginning the end of November through December 30th, head out to the BioPark and walk through the magical display of thousands of twinkling lights. The artisans at the BioPark go all out to create dazzling sculptures and amazing sights for you to enjoy. You can purchase your tickets online, or better still, at the BioPark. The displays are open from 6 pm to 10 pm and closed Christmas Eve and Christmas. Tickets are $8 per adult and children over 13. For children ages 3 to 12, the price is $4. Children 2 and under are free. Be sure to dress warm as the temperature drops when the sun goes down.
There is plenty of free parking at the Botanical Gardens and a special train is available for those who want to park at Tingley Beach. Be sure to check the website for availability and times of free train rides.
Christmas Eve Luminaria Tour:
They are called farolitos in Northern New Mexico and luminarias in Southern New Mexico. Whichever you choose to call them, the small glowing decorations light up the Christmas season throughout New Mexico. The small paper lanterns are brown paper sacks with the top folded down. The small sacks have sand in the bottom to keep them from being blown over and a votive candle provides the light that glows from inside the sacks.
The tradition of the luminarias is over 300 years old in New Mexico. Originally, the small sacks were actually tiny fires which lit the paths and walks in honor of the Christ child’s birth. Today, the paper lanterns line the top of buildings, walkways, churches and porches and flicker peacefully during the evening. There are both walking tours as well as special bus tours of some of the best displays in the area.
Meet at the Old Town Plaza on San Felipe NW on Christmas Eve to catch a special Albuquerque RIDE bus. The bus will be escorted by police to ensure there are few traffic snarls to detract from the tour. You will see the luminarias displays in Old Town, the Country Club, as well as Barales as you ride along. The cost is a modest $7 per person and children under 5 are free but you will need to be ready to board 20 minutes before your scheduled tour time. Details and times of the tour vary.
Whether you choose the luminaria tour or the BioPark’s light display, or both, you will be amazed at the color, sights and sounds as Albuquerque comes to life and celebrates the Christmas season.