Santa Fe: What is There to Do In Early December?

The short answer would be LOTS! With the onset of the holiday season, Santa Fe, like so many other wonderful destinations, comes alive! The wind is crisp, the scent of pinon is on the air, and holiday lights are lit. While the most obvious choice is to be here for the Christmas holiday, especially since the Inn is such an ideal location for touring the Canyon Road and Plaza farolitos, there are definitely many local events in which to participate before the full-bore holiday week.

The month opens with the annual Rumi Concert, a Storydancer project encompassing music, poetry, dance and song presented by local and national talents. Although the esteemed Robert Bly is no longer a visitor, the poetry slot will be filled by Coleman Barks, poet and translator of the 13th century mystical poet, Rumi. Grammy-award winning cellist, David Darling, and Glen Velez, world percussionist, bring harmony and rhythm, and Zuleikha, of the Storydancer Project, contributes both dance and humor. This is always an evening collaboration that lingers in the mind!


Friday, December 3rd, offers first Friday gallery openings throughout the city. This will be an excellent night on which you can combine both galleries and museum-going, since the New Mexico Museum of Art is offering “Vintage Music and Homemade Cookies,” from 5:00 to 8:00PM, with holiday music spun on vintage LPs by the museum’s own DJ Prairie Dog and cookies baked by museum staff! And since it’s the first Friday of the month, that means the O’Keeffe Museum is free too!

Holiday season also means children’s theatre, and the Eldorado Children’s Theatre and Teen Players always put on an entertaining show. This year, the troupe presents the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic , The King and I.  Performances takes place at the James A. Little Theatre on Friday, December 3 and Friday, December 10 at 7:00 PM, and at 2:00PM on Saturday, December 4, Sunday December 5, Saturday, December 11, and Sunday, December 12. Tickets can be reserved on line at, or by calling 466-4656. Great theatre always has to start somewhere, and talent can be found everywhere!

Adult theatre can be found in From Broadway with Love at the Lensic at 7:30PM on Saturday, December 4th.  Kaye Ballard, Liliane Montevecchi, and Donna McKechnie will reunite to star in a one-night-only gala performance to benefit Animal Protection of New Mexico, a non-profit organization that has been challenging historic and widespread animal cruelty in New Mexico for more than 30 years.

Worldy theatre aficionados will thrill to know that there will be an HD simulcast of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as part of the second season of National Theatre Live (NT LIVE), a successful new initiative to broadcast live performances from the National’s stages to cinemas worldwide. The broadcast takes place at the Lensic Center on Friday, December 17 at 7:00PM.

Of course, there will be music and song aplenty! The Santa Fe Men’s Camerata and Zia Singers Holiday Concert takes place at the wonderful Scottish Rite Temple, a landmark in itself, on Saturday, December 4 at 8:00PM and Sunday, December 5 at 4:00PM. The Camerata and the Zia, both directed by Kenneth Knight will join forces for a concert of holiday music, including works from Mendelssohn and Grieg. The combined chorus, about 55 voices strong, will also perform “The Christmas Story According to St. Luke,” a medley of seven well-known Christmas carols arranged by Roger Wagner. The Santa Fe Concert Association brings The King’s Singers for a performance on Wednesday, December 8 at 7:30PM in the St. Francis Cathedral, the perfect spot for holiday chorale.

Not to be outdone by the men, the Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble celebrates the holiday withtheir 30th consecutive Christmas Offering Concert. The Ensemble will sing seasonal music and a world premiere by internationally known composer Stephen Paulus, who will be present for the opening concert on Saturday, December 11th. There are several opportunities to attend with concerts on Saturday, December 11; Sunday, December 12; Friday, December 17;and Satueday, December 18, all in Loretto Chapel at 7:30PM.

Music made by the youthful talents of Santa Fe will be on parade at the Mozart y Mariachi Concert, taking place at the St. Francis Auditorium on Friday, December 10 at 6:30PM. This will be some fine mariachi music, performed with spirit and passion, regardless of the performers’ ages and early bedtimes! Classically-inclined youth musicians get their chance to shine on stage on Sunday, December 12 with a performance by the Youth  Philharmonia and Youth Symphony Orchestra in concert at 1:00PM also in the St. Francis auditorium.

Could the holidays be complete without the Nutcracker? Aspen Santa Fe Ballet does the honors with four performances of Tchaikovsky’s holiday treat, two on Saturday, December 11 at 2:00PM and 7:30 PM and two on Sunday, at 1:00PM and 5:00PM. This dance company gets better every year, and Santa Fe is very grateful to have them in our midst to sprinkle snowflakes and sugarplums!

The visual arts will not be neglected as fabulous holiday gifts handcrafted by more than 100 traditional and acclaimed Hispanic artists can be found at the Winter Spanish Market taking place Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5 from 10:00AM to 5:00PM at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. And Museum Hill gets into the act on Sunday, December 5th from 10:00AM to 5:00PM with a Winter Festival to celebrate the season, with fun for all ages! There will be  hands-on art making in the Atrium, a performance by the Sangre de Christo Chorale, Creative Writings and Readings from the Santa Fe Community College Creative Writing Program, and a Doña Adelina puppet performance by Los Titiriteros. Now that’s a roster! The 4th Annual Holiday Market at Institute of American Indian Arts takes place on Sunday, December 12 from 9:00AM TO 3:00PM at the Institute, with fun and fantastic creations by IAIA faculty, staff, students, alumni, student clubs and other Native American artists. The school itself is a marvel, surrounded by the glorious New Mexico landscape, where it offers a refuge for young Native artists to discover their roots and culture.

Talk about art is always on tap in Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe Art Institute brings art critic Lucy Lippard as the final lecturer in their program, Elemental: Earth Air Fire Water – Art and Environment. Lippard is the author of over 20 books on contemporary art and has written art criticism for Art in America and The Village Voice.  She has also curated over 50 exhibitions, participated in guerrilla theater, and edited a number of independent publications, including “La Puente de Galisteo” in her home community of Galisteo, New Mexico. The lecture takes place on Thursday, December 9 at 6:00Pm at the Santa Fe Art Institute.

If you won’t be here for Christmas, you can still capture the unique flavor of New Mexico with Las Posadas, an annual re-enactment of the Nativity search for shelter. You can join this tradition on the beautiful Santa Fe Plaza at 5:30PM on Saturday, December 11, as this annual candle-lit procession wends it way around the Plaza, concluding in the courtyard of the  Palace of the Governors’ courtyard with carols, cookies and refreshments.

All this and holiday shopping of the unique brand found in our special destination; the flavor of Christmas and the flavor of Santa Fe combine to make pre-holiday travel a joy, regardless of the weather!

Please feel free to contact our friendly staff to find out more about events that interest you or to make reservations for any Santa Fe December happenings!

Santa Fe Fashion Outlets Goes Grottesco

OM: Ten Tiny Epics at an Outlet Mall will be at the Santa Fe Fashion Outlets throughout September 26, from Thursday through Sunday evenings at 7pm.


Storm: A Guided Improvisation by John Flax

Cutting edge at the Outlet Mall? Mais oui, it’s Santa Fe, a City Different, and it’s not the drama of fashion TV, it’s real live performance! Theatre Grottesco may have started in France, but it has been embraced wholeheartedly by the Santa Fe community. Founded in 1983 in Paris, France, by John Flax and Didier Maucort, two former members of Minneapolis’ late, lamented Theatre de la Jeune Lune and both graduates of France’s Ecole Jacques Lecoq, the company evolved with the addition of Elizabeth Wiseman, another Lecoq graduate. From this talented triad, the company eventually expanded into a troupe of 15 artists with a wealth and depth of theatrical expertise. In 1985, the company moved to the United States, basing out of New York and Detroit before settling in Santa Fe in 1996. The survival of any theatre company (to wit, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, see above) is always a drama in and of itself, but somehow, like other tenacious local arts organizations, this tight little troupe has endured – and, we hope, will prosper – in New Mexico, despite the current economic challenges.

Taking as their mission the creation of theatrical expressions that are visually explosive and full of surprises, it is the Ensemble’s intent to rekindle interest in live performance by “juxtaposing classical and modern theatrical styles with a daring, poetic research of culture and imagination, giving voice to the marginal elements of our contemporary society,” and in the process, hopefully imparting emotional wonder and thoughtful reflection to their audience.

The Ballad of Gary and Nicole: From an Idea by Rod Harrison

Since its inception, the company has created 11 full-length plays and over 30 shorter pieces, while performing in 7 countries, 30 states and most major U.S. cities. Pretty impressive stats, as evidenced by two Drama Critic’s awards, a silver medal with Detroit’s Zone V Productions from the Houston Worldfest Film Festival, a Rockefeller MAP Fund Grant, 11 National Endowment for the Arts Professional Theater Awards, and one of 2 MetLife/TCG A-ha Do It grants in the programs inaugural season. Company members have served in the acting ensemble at Sundance, and Flax and Wiseman have served as guest directors and instructors of movement at theaters and university programs across the country, as well as spending 8 years each as NEA artists-in-the-schools. Nice credentials!

Wire Penance: Created and Performed by Kate Kita

Grottesco has become a leader in the Santa Fe performing arts community, with intensive professional training and educational residencies. Promising and upcoming New Mexico artists are challenged  a variety of professional and semi-professional trainings, along with open rehearsals that demonstrate the intricacies of the artistic process. A variety of workshops allows performers to design training with specific goals in mind and can lead to performances with the troupe. The company’s classically-informed consideration of voice, movement and character development are also fertile ground for artists from other disciplines and provide a welcome respite for audiences that value creative exploration and want more than another version of Our Town.

During the month of September, Theatre Grottesco offers theatre lovers OM: Ten Tiny Epics in an Outlet Mall. The genesis of this production is the company’s tri-annual challenge to each member of the ensemble to create a 5-10 minute piece. With no guidelines, anything can happen, any story, any style, any characters. The pieces, however, are required to capture the current passion of the each individual creator, an intimacy uniquely possible in a company of this size. Ensemble members are available to each other for acting, writing or directing duties, and if needed, Artistic Director John Flax spends time with each artist working on the development of the piece. By curtain, the company will have united the short works into a cohesive and exciting production. These shows have proven to be some of the most popular for TG, and the creation of these short pieces allows the ensemble members to develop their own talents and individual visions. The company benefits as a whole, with some small works eventually becoming a laboratory for full-length plays, in turn serving TG’s future audiences with the development of new, fully-realized dramas.


Pod: Written and Performed by Rod Harrison

Spanning 3 to 17 minutes, each of the pieces was staged in the troupe’s rehearsal space at the Fashion Outlets, a surprising and delightful use of empty space in an unusual locale. The simple set consisted of a backdrop of colorful doors and window shapes of varied heights, with a selection of spaces and props above, which were cleverly utilized despite the low ceilings. Musical accompaniment was minimal and was presented only when appropriate. Most of the works were premieres, and the three cast members, John Flax, Kate Kita and Rod Harrison, all performed admirably over a surprisingly quick intermission-less hour or so. Inspiration seemed to come from everywhere, with quirky characters ranging from murderer Gary Gilmore to a pair of hotel housekeepers in my personal favorite, a piece entitled Housekeeping. Both touching and humorous, this piece ran the longest and of course, to a hotel worker like me, seemed the most accessible. In the midst of rapid changes, Ms. Kita gave us delicate dance and mime, Mr. Harrison, bombast, bravado and working-class bravery and mystery cans, and Mr. Flax demonstrated an excellent method of dealing with cell phones during a performance, along with an impressive set of vocal tics!  Taken as a whole, the ambitious intentions of OM were realized in a most entertaining and thoughtful fashion.

OM will be at the Fashion Outlets throughout September, from Thursday through Sunday evenings at 7pm, with an $18 general admission and $8 student tickets. The Fashion Outlets are located just off I-25 and are most easily reached from the Inn by taking the Old Santa Fe Trail all the way out to I-25 south and then zipping down 5 miles or so to exit 278. Dress for an evening out in Santa Fe, which at this time of year can be cool, and if you don’t have a jacket, you can visit the Fashion Outlets earlier and pick one up. After all, why not look dramatically cutting-edge yourself? And do go  – if we want to avoid reading in Playbill about the demise of regional theatre in Santa Fe, it’s up to all of us to keep it alive and kicking here in the City Different!

NB: Red is a theatre lover, but not a theatre critic!