Tradition of light

Lighting of Ledoux emanates warmth and community in the historic district


Holiday traditions are forged by a coming together of like-minded folk. The annual Lighting of Ledoux is a special gathering of the whole community to celebrate the season.

The Lighting of Ledoux refers to Ledoux Street, which is just one block south of Taos Plaza. This year’s event is on Saturday (Dec. 2), from 5-7 p.m. Admission is free. Farolitos (paper bags weighted with sand and illuminated with a candle) line the sidewalk curbs – lighting the way for folks to meander the historic street.

If you’re a photography buff, you’ll want to arrive before the sun sets – as the combination of twilight, candle light and the backdrop of adobe buildings often yields amazing shots (and bring a tripod, too).

Many Ledoux Street merchants offer light refreshments and build luminarias (small bonfires) for people to draw together and make merry. If you’re visiting Taos and/ or are a newcomer, the Lighting of Ledoux can only be described as a quintessentially Northern New Mexican event.

This secular lighting tradition borrows from the Hispanic influence of Christianity in our mountain region. Even today, the Catholic faithful light luminarias and farolitos along dark rural roads leading to the church for Christmas Eve Mass. This practical gesture emanates an air of spirituality. Indeed at the Lighting of Ledoux, the feeling of connectedness is enhanced in the “old world” tradition of gathering around a fire.

Here is a rundown of what you can expect:

At the top of Ledoux Street, Stella’s Italian Restaurant, at 112 Camino de la Placita, will be serving hot soup as they have done for many years. Their delicious food is understandably a crowd favorite. Definitely start your stroll here.

Then head over to Wumaniti Earth Native Sanctuary, 203 Ledoux St. This “new kid on the block” moved into the former Tally Richards Gallery spot in November. To celebrate, they are hosting their Grand Opening on the same night as the Lighting of Ledoux. At 6 p.m., they will have performances by Danza Azteca de Anahuac and bellydancers. Wumaniti offers locally made hemp products (such as clothing, dog and horse treats, and protein bars) as well as CBD products.

Kristin Gemma Ra’Star DiFerdinando is the owner of Wumaniti and says, “I love the feeling of all our local community and spirit families coming together, the warm heart feelings, the luminary lights, the fires, listening to stories and songs really making an ecstatic clean environment. It is truly an honor to be the first of its kind, the Wumaniti Earth Native Sanctuary, on the historic Ledoux Street. Thank you, Taos, for making more history with the hopes of more economical agricultural healing.”

It is notable that this is the last year for Black Mesa Winery’s Taos Tasting Room. At 241 Ledoux St., this wine tasting room and live music venue is scheduled to close soon. Many local musicians and music fans are sad to see it go. The main Black Mesa Winery in nearby Velarde remains open, however.

According to a press release, Black Mesa will be serving samples of warm mulled wine to adults and hot cider to kids and non-drinkers, and will have live music from 5-8 p.m. featuring the Celtic ensemble Anam Cara. The tasting room will also be open for normal business, selling wine by the glass or bottle.

Employee Anne Delling has been with the tasting room since it opened a few years ago. When asked why she loves the Lighting of Ledoux event, she said, “To me it is one of the best community events – even for tourists to get a sense that our community comes out. We love Lighting of Ledoux because you get to see everybody.”

Right next door, Tempo caught up with Marjorie Olsen who was hanging lights and holiday decorations at her eponymous Salon Marjorie at 237 Ledoux St. “We’ve been doing Lighting of Ledoux for 16 years. It’s a really fun event to have everyone come over – our clients and new people. We’ll have refreshments, a bonfire and ‘elves’ (the staff). DJ Julia Daye will be doing our music this year,” she said.

At the Harwood Museum of Art, the browsing public is welcome to check out the art, as the normal museum admission is waived. The gift store has a styled bounty of pottery, jewelry, home decór items, boxed gift cards, and matted and framed reproduction prints “to take from our wall to your wall,” said Raine Williams, store manager. “We love this event because it heralds the season of giving. If you’re not yet a Harwood member, now is the time to join as members will get 20 percent off in the Museum Store.”

Nora O’Keefe is a sales associate in the Museum Store and has participated in many Lighting of Ledoux events. “I love the tradition of it all. We still fill the bags with sand thanks to all of the volunteers.”

For more information, call the Harwood Museum at (575) 758-9826.