Christmas Eve at Oldtown Square

A Luminaria at Old Town Square in Albuquerque

A Tradition Continues

This Christmas I found myself situated in the thriving metropolis of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Now with a population of well past 500, ooo, this ciy has become one of the larger population centers of he Southwest. Despite this large growth pattern, there remain some pockets of the Old West within the city limits. However, in this case, the Old West is the world of the padres and the Spanish settlers that followed them into places like Texas, New Mexico and southern New Mexico.

Luminarias at night
Luminarias at night in Old Town Albuquerque

More Than Just a Tourist Trap 

Old town derives its name that once upon a time it was the city center. Built around a modest but very attractive Catholic church, this section of Albuquerque abounds with pioneer shops, Native art galleries, photographer’s studios, restaurants and candy shops. My guess is that they do a brisk business through much of the year, but Christmas Eve, when the square is lit up with candles inside paper bags must be a very special evening and not just become they get a lot of customers. Seeing the square bathed in candlelight is really an astonishing visual experience.

Nocturnal sidewalk in Old Town, Albuquerque on Christmas Eve
Nocturnal sidewalk in Old Town, Albuquerque on Christmas Eve

The Luminaria Tour

Unfortunately, the beauty of the night now attracts so many visitors that a bus tour works it way across the various neighborhoods, just to see the nocturnal displays. A friend of mine counted the vehicles as they were escorted by police motorcycles, all covered in Christmas tree lights. They were 27 city buses in all and hey must have quite an impact on the shopkeepers, when everybody disembarked for the buses. Forunately, things quieted down and the Christmas Eve service began in the historic San Felipe de Neri church.

Blue Christmas tree in Old Town Albuquerque
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