One of our new favorite traditions is making a batch of biscochitos and hot cocoa, then hitting the road to tour the area neighborhoods in search of Albuquerque’s best holiday lights and luminarias. Tune into Albuquerque’s dedicated Christmas radio station Magic FM 99.5 or put on your favorite holiday playlist and check out some impressive lights displays.
Thank you to Comcast for sponsoring the Guide to Lights and Luminarias.
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Friday December 1st
5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Historic Old Town
This event has become the unofficial beginning of the holiday season. Stop by Plaza Don Luis for the Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. Free parking is available at the lot on the corner of 18th St. and Bellamah Ave. Free shuttles will take event-goers to the Albuquerque Museum lot near Old Town Plaza. Shuttles run from 3:30 – 9:30 p.m. Old Town Holiday Stroll is free for the public to attend and is a rain or shine event.
Streets throughout Old Town will be closed to traffic starting at 3 p.m. Please plan accordingly and arrive early. Be aware of and obey all posted street parking signs. Well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome.
Friday December 1st
With 13,000 farolitos decorating UNM main campus, this event promises to be a continuation of UNM’s oldest student-run tradition. This year, the event begins at the UNM Bookstore. From there the group of carolers will carol across campus to University House and present the president with a wreath. The ceremony will conclude with a reception at Hodgin Hall. The community is invited and encouraged to bring an unwrapped children’s book to place under the tree at Hodgin Hall. The books will be donated to the UNM Children’s Hospital.
November 25 – December 30
Closed Dec. 24 & 25
5 p.m. – 10 p.m. (last entry 9 p.m.)
ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden
Light up your holidays at the New Mexico BioPark Society’s 24th Annual River of Lights. Walk along an easy one-way path, dazzled with over 600 lighted sculptures and millions of twinkling lights. Hot cocoa, holiday treats, and food available for purchase!
Timed tickets are required and must be purchased in advance. Nightly time slots have limited capacity.
November 24 – December 31
6:00 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Winter Wonderland 2023 returns to NM at EXPO NM! Winter Wonderland is a Drive-Thru Holiday Experience, combining the holiday spirit and New Mexico culture into a safe, family-friendly winter attraction. The 2023 show features a special walking section where you can enjoy Winter Wonderland outside your vehicle as well as enjoy local vendors, sip hot cocoa, and even get your picture with SANTA CLAUS himself! A portion of every ticket sold from this event will be donated to the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities-New Mexico.
Advance tickets now on sale. Each ticket admits one carload.
Saturday December 2nd
Nob Hill Area
It’s time for Albuquerque’s most dazzling celebration! This free, family-friendly holiday event brings the sparkle to a mile-long stretch of Central Ave. Nob Hill will be all a-glow as the Twinkle Light Parade rolls from Washington St. to Girard Blvd. starting at 5:15 p.m. The parade is comprised of local businesses, organizations, schools, and families, all competing for Best in Show.
The Albuquerque Twinkle Light Parade is free for the public to attend and is a rain or shine event. Please be aware of and obey all posted street parking signs. Be mindful to not block Nob Hill residents’ driveways or access to their homes. The free, provided Park & Ride is the preferred option for this event. Well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome.
December 14 – December 23
Times may vary. Check website for more details.
Join ABQ Trolley Co. this December as they head out to see Albuquerque’s holiday lights aglow. The Trolley of Lights departs from Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town.
Tours last approximately 75 minutes. December evenings in Albuquerque are quite brisk. Please dress for 30-degree weather as we will be riding in an open sleigh, er Trolley (blankets, long underwear, mittens, knit caps, wool socks, etc. will be necessary).
Locals have come together and dedicated a page on all things Christmas lights in our area. Check it out to see even more places spreading holiday cheer.
It’s no secret that Old Town is the heart of not only the city but also the culture. Head down to this treasure to see luminarias at their greatest as they line the plaza. Finding a place to park and strolling on foot is recommended. Bonus, enjoy the huge wonderfully lit tree while you’re there.
The country club neighborhood is within walking distance of Old Town, and many choose to walk it. It’s easiest to access from San Pasquale, just south of Central. From this major street, take any street east and travel the neighborhood.
Rio Grande Blvd
From Paseo Del Norte to Alameda, take a drive down Rio Grande (especially on Christmas Eve), and you’re sure to see a good showing of luminarias.
This neighborhood centers around Ridgecrest Park, close to UNM. It is a small neighborhood but once you find it, you will see luminarias all around, as well as some awesome Christmas lights.
Tingley Beach Area
Just south of Old Town near Tingley Beach and Albuquerque Country Club, you will find some of the most beautiful houses in Albuquerque (including Jesse Pinkman’s house, Breaking Bad fans.) But even more exciting this time of year, you will find some beautifully decorated homes. On Christmas Eve, the neighborhood lights up with luminarias. Here’s a map of how to see the best luminaries down there.
The south valley is a large component of the bus tour the city provides every Christmas Eve. Driving is suitable here because of the long distances. Travel to the Alamosa neighborhood, which is bounded by Central to the north, and lies between Old Coors and Coors. Bridge is to the south. Take Central west to Old Coors and travel south to Bridge, then head east to 2nd Street and north through Barelas.
Drive to the National Hispanic Cultural Center to see its display of lights, then drive north on 2nd Street through the heart of Barelas.
North Valley (Lee Acres and Dietz Farms)
You’ll put in a bit of driving to cover the areas in the north valley where there are luminaria displays, but it will be well worth it. Start by traveling north on Rio Grande to Dietz Farms, which is located east of the Flying Star Plaza (where you can find Bookworks and the Flying Star). Turn west onto Dietz Farm Place and drive the circle around and back to Rio Grande. Then go north on Rio Grande to see the lights at the big houses. Turn right onto Chavez and take another right onto Nabor Road, then a left on Solar Road, which takes you directly into Lee Acres subdivision. Drive the streets of Lee Acres (Fairway and Solar), looping around until you take Solar east and eventually onto Fourth Street.
Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge
Join us for a luminaria walk around the visitor center and enjoy snacks, hot chocolate, music, and a storytime! Afterward, look at the stars in the night sky with The Albuquerque Astronomical Society on Friday, December 16 from 7 PM to 9 PM.
ABQ Mom Team Recommendations
” I follow a Facebook Christmas lights group to see where the most houses are that have Christmas lights up and then I also enjoy going around the subdivisions north of Paseo.”
“We love the luminarias tour that leaves from the convention center because you can be cozy in the bus while seeing all the amazing farolitos that make NM special without the traffic or crowds. We also love the River of Lights because of the intricate, large, and magical displays. Also, we love seeing the fun farolitos display at UNM Hanging of the Greens. I have memories of creating displays when I went to college there and now sharing the experience with my kids is really special. It gives me a sense of nostalgia that I die for during the holiday season.”
“We love seeing Mr. Christmas’ display on the NW side of town! We live 5 minutes away so we drive by often. I love that this has been a neighborhood tradition and now that Mr. Christmas can’t put up the display himself, all our neighbors pitch in to help put the lights up and pay his electric bill. The whole neighborhood’s light display is amazing and a must-see off Irving Blvd. & Cantacielo Dr NW.”