by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, December 2010 - January 2011
If you haven’t noticed, it’s the holidays, which means you can’t toss a twig of mistletoe without hitting something festive. The good news is you don’t have to look very hard to find an event to get you in the season’s spirit. Start things off right with a visit to the River of Lights, which is running all month at the Botanic Gardens through Dec. 30 (except Dec. 24 and 25). If you haven’t been yet, it’s about time you go. See 142 original, lighted sculptures amid the gardens, with live entertainment, hot food and drink, and more. Read all about the behind-the-scenes of the event in this month’s issue. The River of Lights is open from 6 to 9 p.m. until Dec. 16 and from 6 to 10 p.m. from Dec. 17 through 30. Get free Park and Ride from the zoo and Tingley Beach. 2601 Central NW, 505.768.2000, www.cabq.gov/biopark.
Winter is the best time for taking a soak in a steamy hot tub or roasting in a sauna. Now Downtowners have a quick and easy way to get their heat fix. Albuquerque Baths is a Japanese bathhouse-, Russian banya- and Scandinavian sauna-inspired spa that just opened on Broadway. Day passes are only $15, and while most of the week the solar-heated hot tub is open to the public, Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. are women’s-only hours. The spa also offers massages and salt scrubs. And get this: Its building is on track to receive LEED certification. Very cool. 1218 Broadway NE, 505.243.3721, www.abqbaths.com.
Holiday-themed theater is bountiful in Albuquerque this year, with shows diverse enough to satisfy every audience. Take the whole family to see Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, a musical based on the classic film, at Albuquerque Little Theatre through Dec. 24 and A Christmas Carol, presented by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan, at Popejoy Hall on Dec. 22 and 23. Don’t miss Seasons Greetings and The Santaland Diaries, a one-man show by David Sedaris performed by Ross Kelly at the Desert Rose Playhouse from Dec. 3 through 19. And, a much-loved holiday staple, The Dolls are releasing this year’s Christmas show, Dolls In Toyland: A Story of Murder, Lust, Greed, and the True Meaning of Christmas, running at the Auxiliary Dog Theatre from Dec. 3 through 19. If Dolls shows past are of any indication, leave the kids at home for this one, folks. For ticket prices, runtimes and more, visit www.abqtheatre.org.
Here’s one that deserves special mention: Keshet Dance Company’s Nutcrackers on the Rocks makes it annual appearance from Friday, Dec. 3, through Sunday, Dec. 5, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The original show by Keshet Artistic Director Shira Greenberg brings rock and roll to the well-known story with James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin. Tickets are $24-$28. 1701 Fourth Street SW, 505.246.2261, www.keshetdance.org, www.nhccnm.org.
If you’ve ever been to one of Nob Hill’s Shop & Strolls, you know why the city loves them. Traffic is blocked off on Central between Girard and Washington, making the pedestrian thoroughfare even more walkable. Hot chocolate and cider are sold in street booths and can also be found inside many of the more than 90 participating shops, which hold their doors open until 10 p.m. Street performers and carolers keep things exciting outside while shopping and dining establishments keep things toasty inside. This year it’s all on Thursday, Dec. 2, from 5 to 10 p.m. There’s also going to be free parking behind O’Neil’s Irish Pub at Central and Washington and across the street at the Bank of America. For more information, visit www.route66central.com.
In more wintery shopping news, Old Town hosts its Holiday Stroll the next night on Friday, Dec. 3. Shops will stay open until 9 p.m., with musicians, hot cocoa and luminarias strewn about. The night will culminate with a Santa Claus parade around the plaza. For more information, visit www.cabq.gov.
Not as many people have heard of North Fourth’s Holiday Stop & Shop, but it’s another great event that shouldn’t be overlooked. Participating businesses along North Fourth Street will offer discounts, prizes and refreshments Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, during business hours. If you haven’t spent much time along the corridor, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been going for years. Old-timey shops and cute boutiques blend in this lush part of the city, which is bursting with cottonwoods. The Stop & Shop is offering grand prize gift baskets this year as well, valued at more than $300 each. Enter your name into drawings at North Fourth stores to enter to win one. For more information, visit www.losranchosshops.com.
Also on Saturday, Dec. 4, is the Twinkle Light Parade at Civic Plaza and Noche de Luces at Casa San Ysidro. The parade starts at Civic Plaza at 5:45 p.m. You can also catch it en route--it will head south on Third Street, west on Central and eventually disband south on San Pasquale. When it’s over, head to Corrales to Casa San Ysidro (973 Old Church Road), where the historic homes will be decked with farolitos and guests can make ornaments and sings carols by bonfire light. Both events are free. www.cabq.gov.
If you’re looking for a more classic Nutcracker rendition, Ballet Repertory Theatre gives polished performances from Dec. 11 through 24 at the KiMo Theatre. You know what you’re getting: toy soldiers, giant mice, snowflakes and candied treats. Bring the kids and get in the spirit of the holidays. Tickets range from $5 to $35. 423 Central NW, 505.768.3544, www.cabq.gov/kimo.
To meander off the holiday path for a moment, there’s a wonderful new business in Nob Hill I want to tell you about. Olo Yogurt Studio is what I hope will be an Albuquerque mainstay for years to come. The place is glossy and metropolitan but one-of-a-kind, opened by a New Mexico native. Let me be clear from the start: We’re talking about frozen yogurt, and we’re talking about fresh. Olo has a rotating assortment of “froyo” concoctions like White Sands Vanilla, Petroglyph Pumpkin, Nob Hill Cheesecake and Silver City Strawberry. None of the yogurts are made with powders; they’re all made with active cultures. That means the stuff’s actually kind of good for you. The model of the little shop is neat, too. It’s all self-service, and one size cup fits all. You fill your cup with whatever flavors you choose and then head to the topping bar, which has everything from chocolate chips and sprinkles to lychee fruit. Then you’re charged for your cup based on weight. Plus, the complete nutritional information for every flavor is on its website. Welcome to the neighborhood, Olo! 3339 Central SE, Suite 1C, 505.718.4656, www.oloyogurt.com.
The Luminaria Tour has a stronghold over Albuquerque Christmas Eve traditions. Get a peek at Christmas lights and farolitos across Old Town, the Albuquerque Country Club and other especially luminescent areas with ABQ Ride. Park your car and get picked up at the Convention Center on Friday, Dec. 24, at 5:20, 5:45, 6:10, 6:50, 7:15 or 7:40 p.m. Tickets are only $7, and children under 9 are free. To get tickets in advance or for more information, visit www.cabq.gov.