Taos is unique at any time of year.
Even the light is different here in New Mexico, which was already old when George Washington was born.
The light here in northern New Mexico reminds me of the Mediterranean – in a way, it’s like America’s Provence, and little wonder so many artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, have called the Land of Enchantment home. The wondrous play of light in the sky and on the raw and rugged landscape and adobe architecture, is especially enchanting at this time of year when the sun is low in the sky.
The air is different too; crystal clear and imbued with palpable energy. And the colors are more saturated, brighter and deeper, from the ubiquitous red chili pepper ristras hanging from porches to the famed Taos Blue doors that lead one into ancient adobe interiors. Then there is the forever-changing light transforming Taos Mountain into something more than the sum of its parts; “The Mountain,” with the Taos Pueblo, nestled at its base, sacred to the Tiwa People who have lived there over a thousand years, becomes mythical, a place of spirit and magic
Taos also has a four-hundred-year-old plaza, a three-hundred-year-old graveyard, and a renowned Southwestern Art Colony,
Taos glows with a special aura any time of year. But that aura’s especially bright at Christmastime. In fact, Taos has been included on the Travel & Leisure list of the “Best Places to Spend Christmas” in the U.S. So is you are thinking of visiting Taos in December (easier now than ever with direct flights from Dallas and Los Angeles on Taos Air), try to plan your trip during this weekend’s Lighting of Ledoux Street.
Ledoux Street is one of the oldest streets in Taos. Named after Paul Ledoux, a French trapper who settled in Taos in the 1800’s, Ledoux is a winding, narrow path housing shops, homes, art galleries, Shree Yoga Taos (the best yoga studio in town), restaurants and museums including the famous Harwood Museum of Art. Ledoux is a must see during any visit to Taos but during this event when the street is closed off to vehicles for two hours from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm the second Saturday in December, it is truly magical.
Over a thousand farolitos (small paper bags filled with sand containing a lit candle) line the street and buildings creating the only light. Most buildings have a luminaria (a small bonfire) in the front courtyard. Merchants and gallery owners hand out wooden sticks with marshmallows attached for toasting. Hot cider, cookies and hot chocolate are served to everyone.
Of all the Taos Holiday celebrations, Lighting Ledoux is my favorite. It represents the essence of Taos: Filled with families and friends, wide-eyed children enchanted with the lights, there is a true feeling of community with everyone coming together to celebrate the magic of Taos and the spirit of the Holidays
Spending an hour or so wandering through the wonderful Harwood and Blumenshein Museums soaking in the art, gallery hopping and meeting the artists, catching up with old friends and making new ones – this is a great way for a first time visitor to get a feel for our little town.Then next weekend the festivities move to Bent Street, with bonfires and more celebration! I’ll have more on that next week.
Taos is one of the few towns in America that celebrates Las Posadas – a Mexican Christmas tradition starting on Dec. 16 that runs through Christmas Eve. Las Posadas is an actual re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging. Each night, a group of carolers will serenade an individual house, asking for lodging. Followers trail behind, carrying candles, and searching for a home to eventually take them in on Christmas Eve.
The Taos Pueblo celebrates with a colorful Christmas Eve Procession that starts out amidst bonfires, with Taos Pueblo Deer dancers or Matachines. There is dancing on Christmas Day as well.
During December in New Mexico, you are more than likely to find snow on the mountains, a big bonus is an opportunity to ski or snowboard at Taos Ski Valley. Taos offers some of the best skiing in America just a short drive from town, where you can ring in the New Year with a bang at the “New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks,” with a spectacular parade of skiers carrying torch-lights as they schuss down the slopes under a blanket of stars. And then come the fireworks!
In Taos, celebrations happen throughout the holiday season. It may be cold here in the upper elevations but the lights and our Christmas cheer will warm your heart.
For more on the Lighting of Ledoux, please see the Harwood Museum’s site linked below.
Lighting of Ledoux
When: Saturday, December 7, 2019
5:00PM – 7:00PM
Where: Ledoux Street
The Blumenschein will have live music during the event.
For more on the Holiday Season aquin en Taos, please visit Taos.org
All images thanks to the Harwood and/or stock files, my iphone.