Best Festivals in Santa Fe
Credit: Jay Goebel / Alamy

“¡Viva la Fiesta!” is a cry that has gone up in Santa Fe for more than 300 years. The city’s largest party—the namesake Santa Fe Festival—celebrates Don Diego de Vargas’s peaceful reoccupation of the city in 1692, 12 years after the Pueblo revolt of 1680. Today, the Fiesta is a fun party that involves burning a giant effigy named “Old Man Gloom,” a pet parade, and a pontifical mass—and its just one of many festivals the city hosts through the year, celebrating everything from basso profundo voices to craft-brewed beers. The heavy party season kicks off in May with the Outside Bike & Brew Festival, and encompasses almost every weekend through the end of September. Time your visit right, and you can take part in tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera, sampling locals wine varietals and chiles, or enjoying gorgeous chamber orchestra performances at St. Francis Auditorium.

Santa Fe Fiesta

The official opening of Fiesta kicks off at 6 a.m. at Rosario Chapel on September 5, but the celebration unofficially spreads out over months. Be sure not to miss Zozobra, the annual burning of the 50-foot groaning monster who goes down in a blaze of fireworks this year on August 29 starting at 2 p.m. at Fort Marcy Park.

Santa Fe Opera Festival

Every summer opera stars and musicians from around the world descend on Santa Fe’s sublime open-air opera house to perform five original performances. This year’s headliner is Carmen, the sizzling portrait of a femme fatale and the world’s most popular opera. Argentinian Daniela Mack and Ana María Martínez from Puerto Rico share the title role. Also playing: Don Pasquale, Fidelio, The Impresario and Le Rossignol, and Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Outside Bike & Brew Festival

What’s not to celebrate about riding bikes, drinking locally brewed craft beers and listening to live music? That’s what’s on tap next spring at the second annual Outside Bike & Brew Festival, which shares the weekend with the Santa Fe Century, an awesome 100-mile bike race through historic mining towns and high-desert terrain.

Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta

Overwhelmed by the dining options in Santa Fe? This five-day event in September offers a way to sample the best wine and cuisine the city has to offer, with wine tastings, cooking demos, guest chef luncheons, and grand tastings. Burn the calories off afterward taking part in the Gran Fondo bike ride or the Gruet Golf Classic.

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

In its 42nd season, this year’s world-renowned festival features more than 40 performances in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, including a piano recital by Jan Nakamatsu playing Schumann, concerts by the Orion String Quartet, and special evenings featuring music by Schubert and Brahms, Beethoven and Shostakovich, and Haydn, Ligeti, Mendelssohn, and more.