The 2021 Taos Holiday Season officially kicks off with the annual lighting of the Town Christmas Tree. On Friday, Dec. 3, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Taos Plaza, the 36th annual yuletide tree lighting ushers in a holiday season that will surely seem more ‘holidial’ than the disheartening pandemic shutdown of one year ago. 

Perhaps even more than a holiday event, this year is a return to a festive coming together of community. Despite the fact that some of the traditional activities have not yet returned, this season may just bring with it something even more extraordinary. After the shuttered doors and windows that were the unfortunate norm one year ago, life is returning, one COVID-safe protocol at a time. The spirit of our community did not depart during the pandemic shutdown but it may have retreated for the greater good. And now, everyone is ready to welcome the holidays. The locals may not circle the tree, holding hands and singing, ‘Fah who foraze, dah who doraze, Welcome Christmas, Christmas day,’ like the "Whos in Whoville" did when the Grinch returned their presents, there will likely be plenty of hugs, hand holding, and songs of gratitude in the air. If COVID-19 was our Grinch last year, then this year we have every right to sing.

As in years past, the crowds will likely begin to arrive on the plaza well before the farolitos are lit. As the temperatures drop and kids’ cheeks turn rosy there will be a collective return to a community event so steeped in tradition that it can be hard for locals to remember a time when we didn’t gather for the magical countdown of the tree lighting.

The plaza will only be open to pedestrian traffic. There will be ample parking in nearby lots — including easily accessible handicapped parking. Metered parking is free after 5 p.m. and shops will be open late and likely serving holiday cookies and hot chocolate.

The ‘Lighting of Ledoux’ tradition returns

Following the Friday night tree lighting, the 20-year tradition of ‘Lighting Ledoux’ will take place the next evening, Saturday, Dec. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. The event begins on the plaza at 4:45 where Jolly Old Saint Nick when hitches a ride on the old town firetruck accompanied by carolers and anyone who wants to participate in the parade to Ledoux. 

Expect to see locals, visitors, and plenty of kids joining in the procession from the plaza to what is arguably the most colorful street in Taos. Lined with traditional adobe shops, galleries, studios, and museums, the street recognized for its lush flower gardens and wall murals dons its holiday trimmings as one could only expect from a place where artists have worked and lived for decades. 

The Harwood Museum sponsors the event and all shops and museums will be open to embrace and welcome the holiday. In addition to strolling the street lit with farolitos, luminarias, and bonfires, visitors can stop to enjoy holiday cookies, snacks, and drinks from the stores and shops — all of which will be adhering to COVID-safe protocols. Stella’s Italian restaurant will be serving cups of soup. 

The Taos Community Choir will be strolling and singing carols and welcoming visitors to join in. Do not be surprised if you see elves with pointy-toed ears and shoes — some shop owners and employees are planning to don holiday costumes. Rob Nightingale, owner of Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, is planning to build a bonfire in one of the courtyards and everyone is welcome to come and mingle. Spontaneous rounds of "Jingle Bells" will likely be met with unbridled enthusiasm. 

For more information on these events go to taos.org.

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