If there’s one tradition that captures the vibrant spirit of Santa Fe, it’s our city’s annual celebration, La Fiesta de Santa Fe–a colorful, historic feast unlike anything you’ve experienced. With parades, dancing, concerts, and a 30-foot effigyof gloom built every year just to be burned to the ground, La Fiesta de Santa Fe is truly a feast for all the senses.
As thousands of fiesta-goers who return year-after-year will attest, celebrating Santa Fe style means more than just revelry. Legendary food, music and the pageantry of 300 year traditions provide the perfect celebration. Crowds discover and rediscover a bounty of authentic local cuisine and regional wines at gourmet restaurants and traditional food booths lining the Plaza. Streets spill over with music, parades and cries of “Viva la Fiesta,” with festivities pausing only for a majestic, time-honored Catholic ceremony.
Ask any local, and you’ll discover that Fiesta de Santa Fe has a special place in the hearts of Santa Feans. Beyond its fun and pageantry, it offers a unique blend of ancient culture, modern art, and longstanding community traditions. ¡Viva La Fiesta!
A Celebration of Peace
With a name that means “holy faith” in Spanish, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that there’s a lot of Spanish colonial heritage in Santa Fe. In fact, Santa Fe was considered the capital city even when New Mexico was still the “Kingdom of New Mexico” under the rule of the King of Spain. La Fiesta de Santa Fe is a celebration created by the conquistadors who helped establish colonies here.
It might be hard to get excited about celebrating colonialism in the Twenty First Century, but Fiesta de Santa Fe has survived since 1912 because it was never a celebration of Spanish conquest. La Fiesta de Santa Fe has survived so long because it celebrates cultures coming together in peace. After years of conflict between colonists and native tribes, Don Diego de Vargas successfully re-occupied Santa Fe without conflict or bloodshed. It was such a profound step toward peaceful coexistence that De Vargas attributed it to divine intervention and insisted that a feast be held in reverence of the Virgin Mary.
Conflicts did not completely disappear, but the tradition of celebrating a peaceful marriage of differing cultures remained, an attitude that characterizes Santa Fe even today. Visitors can celebrate culture and history by retracing the actual steps of the city’s ancestors through the center of town, or by joining a candlelight procession on the last day of the Fiesta.
A Celebration of Art
In 1924, before Burning Man, and comparatively new to the rest of Fiesta celebrations, the burning of Zozobra began as a creation by artist William Shuster. A member of a group known around town as Los Cincos Pintores (the five painters), Shuster was among the first Anglo artists to discover Santa Fe’s unspoiled beauty and natural splendor. By then, La Fiesta de Santa Fe was over two hundred years old and had seen better days.
Not content to let the tradition die, Will Shuster and several of his friends hatched a plot to stage a fiesta of their own in an empty lot behind City Hall. Shuster adapted a tradition with roots in Roman Catholicism as well as the cultural ceremonies of the Yaqui Indians to create a huge marionette personification of gloom that would be burned into cinders.
This year Fiesta de Santa Fe celebrates its 300th anniversary, proving that partying in peace can be a lasting tradition. So join Santa Fe in watching your troubles and gloom go up in smoke. “Viva La Fiesta”!
Burning of Zozobra: 3pm - 11pm at Fort Marcy Park
Pregon de la Fiesta: 6am - 7am at Rosario Chapel Fiesta Fine Art and Craft Market: 9am - 5pm at the Santa Fe Plaza Food Booths: 9am - 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza Bandstand on the Plaza: 10am - 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza Official Opening of the Fiesta: 12pm - 12:30pm at the Santa Fe Plaza Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas: 2pm - 3pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Desfile de Los Ninos (The Pet Parade): 9am - 10:45am Downtown Santa Fe Bandstand on the Plaza: 10:45am - 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza La Merienda (The Fashion Show): 3pm - 5pm at the James A. Little Theater Gran Baile: 7:30pm at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center
Solemn Procession: 9:30am - 10am at the Palace of the Governors Pontifical Mass: 10am - 11:15am at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi Bandstand on the Plaza: 11am- 5pm at the Santa Fe Plaza Desfile de la Gente Historical Parade: 12:30pm - 3 pm Downtown Santa Fe Closing Ceremonies: 5:15pm - 5:30pm at the Santa Fe Plaza Mass of Thanksgiving and Candlelight Procession: 7pm - 9pm at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Find more ways and reasons to celebrate in Santa Fe here!