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Christmas in Albuquerque

Program Number: 14369RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/20/2012 - 12/26/2012; 12/21/2014 - 12/27/2014;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Price starting at: $969.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Be a part of the diverse holiday traditions of multicultural Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city. See Old Town decorated for the holidays and attend the River of Lights Celebration at Albuquerque Bio Park. Learn about conversos and crypto-Jews and attend a local Temple service. Take a fun, hands-on traditional New Mexican handcrafts class and enjoy a New Mexico wine tasting. Attend traditional Christmas Day dances at Jemez Pueblo. Top it off with a Christmas dinner in one of our fine local restaurants!


• Ride through twinkling decorated streets as you experience Albuquerque's annual Luminaria Tour.
• Learn about traditional New Mexican arts and crafts.
• Hear a local musical group play traditional and regional music while you sing along, drink Mexican hot chocolate and eat biscochitos, New Mexico's state cookie!

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile per day; some uneven terrain. Standing for up to an hour.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


New Mexico's vast history, diversity, creativity, cuisine, beauty and art unite in this vibrant city, founded as a Spanish colonial outpost in 1706 and built in a traditional Spanish village configuration in which civic buildings surround a central plaza. “Old Town” is just one of New Mexico’s largest city’s many gems.

Centrally located hotel with complimentary WiFi internet access, a full size, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and business center

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Norma Libman

Norma Libman is an independent journalist whose byline has appeared in hundreds of articles in newspapers nationwide. She has degrees in education and literature from Northeastern Illinois University, and has taught writing, literature and humanities courses in Illinois and New Mexico. She is the author of “The Memoir Writing Workbook,” and leads workshops at writers’ conferences. Norma has been a presenter in many cities nationwide on the subject of Conversos and Crypto Jews in the southwest.
James Hammond

Jim Hammond has searched the world for the best wines for 40 years. Known as the Southwestern Wine Guy, Jim has been the wine columnist for the Albuquerque Journal since 2006. His book, "Wines of Enchantment, A Guide to Finding and Enjoying the Wines of New Mexico," is the first of a planned series. Jim’s first novel, "The Phoenix Society," is set in the wine country of Sonoma County, and he is working on a novel covering the Lincoln County Wars of New Mexico set in the late 1870s.
Meals and Lodgings
   MCM Elegante
  Albuquerque 6 nights
 MCM Elegante
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Large hotel with mid-town location and free parking
  Contact info: 2020 Menaul NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107 USA
phone: 505-884-2511
  Room amenities: Data ports, irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, refrigerators upon request
  Facility amenities: Heated pool, spa and exercise room, restaurant and lounge on premises
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Best seasonal rate. Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Best seasonal rate. Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in at the hotel any time after 3:00 PM. Register with your Road Scholar group leader from 4:00-5:30 PM. You will be staying at MCM Elegante that night.
  End of Program:
Your breakfast on the program's final day is the last meal included in the program. Hotel check-out time is 12:00 PM. You will be staying at MCM Elegante the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free at hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Albuquerque
  Nearest highway: I-25 and I-40
  Nearest airport:  Albuquerque International Sunport
  From End of Program
  Location: Albuquerque
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



To Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


Let the hotel's front desk attendant know the evening before your departure that you'd like a shuttle to the airport the next day. If you need to depart from the hotel prior to 7:00 AM, the front desk staff may need to call a taxi for you, as the shuttle doesn't run until about 7:00 AM on most days.




From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


Call hotel and request shuttle pick-up upon your arrival at the airport or Albuquerque's AMTRAK STATION. They'll let you know when they'll arrive; if your flight comes in after 8:00 PM, the shuttle may not be able to pick you up, but the front desk attendant at the hotel will let you know. If that's the case, the attendant at the airport info desk will call a taxi for you.

Driving Directions
  From Albuquerque International Sunport The airport is located on the south end of Albuquerque. Exit the airport west onto Sunport Boulevard, which will take you to Interstate 25. Take the entry ramp onto Interstate 25 and travel north to Exit 225 (Lomas). Continue driving north on the frontage road to Menaul Blvd. where you'll make a right turn. You'll see the hotel on the right-hand side of Menaul, just past the first intersection (at University.)
  From Interstate 25 Interstate 25 runs north and south through the middle of Albuquerque, where it crosses Interstate 40. From the north, take Exit 227 (Comanche, Candelaria, Menaul). Drive south along the frontage road until you reach Menaul (the third major intersection). Turn left on Menaul. Just after the first major intersection, with University Blvd., you'll see the hotel on the right. From the south, take Exit 225 (Lomas). Continue driving north along the frontage road until you reach Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and, just after the first major intersection (University), you'll see the hotel on the right.
  From Interstate 40 Interstate 40 runs east and west through the middle of Albuquerque. Near the center of town, it crosses Interstate 25. From the east, take Exit 159-D (University Blvd.) to the first light, which is Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection. From the west, take Exit 159-A (University Blvd.). Continue east along the frontage road until you reach University; turn left on University. Take a right at the second light, on Menaul, and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection.
Elevation Note: We will be above 3,000' the entire program (5,300' in Albuquerque).

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive in Albuquerque/Orientation & Introductions
(Thursday, December 20)

Note: Walking up to a block or two around hotel interior. Elevators available.

 Arrive To: Arrive at MCM Elegante between 3:00 and 5:30 PM for hotel check-in.

Registration with Road Scholar group leader is from 4:00 to 5:30 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel dining room from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.
 Evening: Program orientation and introductions in hotel meeting room from 7:00 to 8:30 PM.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Classes in hotel meeting room/Indian Pueblo Cultural Center/Guided bus exploration of Albuquerque/Dinner at the hotel/Jewish Temple Visit
(Friday, December 21)

Note: Walking up to one mile over the course of the day over paved terrain. Standing at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center up to one hour

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room from 7:00 to 8:00 AM.
 Morning: Classes from 8:30 AM until 12:00 PM on the History of Albuquerque, Converso/Crypto-Jewish History and Culture and Modern Jewish Culture.

These classes, with appropriate breaks, will help you understand some of the different cultures involved in this holiday program.

 Lunch: Lunch in the hotel dining room from 12:00 to 1:00 PM.
 Afternoon: Bus departs at 1:30 PM for a guided Albuquerque exploration, stopping at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for a visit at 2:30 PM.

Participants will see exhibits representing the pueblos of New Mexico.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: This evening you'll attend a service at Congregation Albert, a Reformed Jewish Congregation. The Temple is always very glad to have visitors, and even if you don't know much about the Jewish faith, you'll get a lot out of this service.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Morning Festivities/National Hispanic Cultural Center Museum/Old Town Plaza/Natural History Museum/River of Lights Display
(Saturday, December 22)

Note: Walking up to one mile over paved and dirt packed terrain. Standing (with opportunities to sit) at Nat'l Hispanic Cultural Center and Natural History Museum as well as at the River of Lights Display

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room from 7:00 to 8:00 AM.
 Morning: From 9:00 AM until 10:00 AM, you'll celebrate the holidays with an appearance by local musicians. You can sing along if you wish as they play and sing traditional holiday carols.

The hotel will present you with Mexican hot chocolate and biscochitos (the official New Mexico state cookie).

After you've had some time to enjoy the refreshments, you'll have an informal class from 10:15-11:15 AM, where you'll be given recipes for New Mexico traditional foods, and there will be a discussion as to how to go about preparing these when you get back home.

 Lunch: Board bus at 11:30 AM for lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center Museum from 1:00 until 2:00 PM and see many very special exhibits about Hispanic life and history.

The bus will depart at 2:15 PM to take you to Albuquerque's Old Town for some free time on the Plaza.

Bus returns to the hotel at 4:00 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner in hotel dining room from 5:00-6:00 PM.
 Evening: At 6:30 PM, bus will take you to the Albuquerque BioPark, where the group can spend time at the annual River of Lights, New Mexico's largest walk-through light show.

There are many sculptures and displays designed and constructed by Albuquerque BioPark artists and craftsmen.

There will be live musical entertainment from a variety of local musicians. You can purchase - if desired - hot food and beverages on site.

Bus will return to the hotel between 8:00 and 8:30 PM.

Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: New Mexico History/Current Population of State/New Mexico Folk Arts (hands-on) and New Mexico Wineries (and wine tasting!)
(Sunday, December 23)

Note: Walking at hotel only; creating some small New Mexico folk art pieces to take home

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining area from 7:00-8:00 AM.
 Morning: From 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM, hear some presentations on the history of the state of New Mexico, as well as gaining some information about the state's current population, its diversity, and day-to-day life
 Lunch: Lunch in hotel dining room from 12:15 until 1:15 PM.
 Afternoon: This afternoon will be spent doing some relaxing activities.

First, from 1:00-2:30 PM, you'll learn about some traditional New Mexican handcrafts/folk art that you will learn to make. These crafts are easy and fun, and you'll be given directions for doing them at home if you wish. You'll work on one or two small projects during class time.

New Mexico has quite the reputation as a wine-producing state, and the wines are remarkably good and several have one some great prizes. From 3:00-4:30 PM, you'll learn about the state's vineyards, why NM is a great place to produce these award-winning wines, and then you'll sample some of the best wines we have to offer.

 Dinner: From 6:00-7:00 PM, dinner will be served in the hotel dining room.
 Evening: Free evening to do as you wish.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Stories of the Pueblos and some Southwestern Holiday Stories/Spanish Holiday Traditions/Luminaria Bus Outing/Midnight Mass
(Monday, December 24)

Note: Walking up to three blocks over course of the day over paved, uneven terrain. Boarding and getting off bus (2-4 steps). Standing at Midnight Mass is a possibility, although we try to get there early enough for you to get a seat

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel dining area from 7:00 until 8:00 AM.
 Morning: From 9:00-10:30 AM in a hotel meeting room, enjoy some stories of the pueblos and some southwestern Christmas stories. There will be appropriate breaks. From 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM, you'll learn about some Spanish holiday traditions.
 Lunch: Lunch in hotel dining room from 12:15 until 1:15 PM.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon from 1:30-5:00 PM.
 Dinner: We'll have a special Christmas Eve dinner in the hotel dining room from 5:00-6:30 PM.
 Evening: Take a magical ride with the Albuquerque Ride buses to view the lovely luminaria displays throughout the city.

Enjoy this annual New Mexican tradition without worrying about parking, driving through snow or annoying traffic delays.

You'll travel through a twinkling wonderland as the bus takes you to the Albuquerque Country Club area and other hot spots in the city decked out for the holidays. Then, you'll travel to Albuquerque's Old Town.

There, you'll see thousands of the luminarias, historically a Christian tradition, lighting the streets to guide Joseph and Mary to the stable in Bethlehem, as well as to guide people to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass.

You'll spend some time looking around at the late-night beauty of Old Town, then go to San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church (we recommend that you get there no later than 10:30 PM) where you'll attend Midnight Mass (which really starts at 11:00 PM). At midnight, the beautiful bells at the church ring in Christmas Day. Return to hotel via bus after Mass is over.

Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Jemez Pueblo Holiday Dances/Dinner at Tamaya Hyatt Regency Resort/Evening Video
(Tuesday, December 25)

Note: Walking up to one mile over packed dirt terrain over course of the day; standing up to an hour at Jemez Dances

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel from 7:00 until 8:00 AM.
 Morning: Leave the hotel at 8:30 AM for Jemez Pueblo and the Buffalo Dance.

Jemez is the sole remaining pueblo out of six sites that once dotted the rugged southern end of the Jemez Mountains, and some of its residents are descendants of the people of Pecos Pueblo.

Jemez's historic main village is closed to the public, except on a handful of days including Christmas.

 Lunch: Bus will depart Jemez Pueblo at 11:30 AM.

You'll be treated to a very special holiday dinner from 1:00-2:30 PM at the Tamaya Hyatt Regency Resort, part of Santa Ana Pueblo.

 Afternoon: After lunch, there will be some time to walk the scenic trails to the river bosque at the Tamaya resort before returning to the hotel in Albuquerque for a little rest and relaxation.
 Dinner: We'll provide a 'soup and salad' supper for you at the hotel between 6:15 and 7:00 PM in a hotel meeting room.
 Evening: At 7:00 PM, we'll do our program closing in the hotel meeting room, followed by a showing of the movie "The Milagro Beanfield War."
Accommodations: MCM Elegante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Breakfast and Departure
(Wednesday, December 26)
 Depart From: Independent departures from MCM Elegante in Albuquerque. Hotel offers free shuttle service to Albuquerque International Sunport. Checkout time is 12:00 noon.
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room, served buffet style between 7:00 and 9:00 AM.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Albuquerque in Our Time: 30 Voices, 300 Years

Author: Hughes, Debra

Description: Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city astride a great river, celebrated its tricentennial in 2006. This book pays homage to the city with a rich medley of narratives by its most colorful residents: well-loved town characters, writers, journalists, politicians, civic and business leaders who have helped shape Albuquerque's character and guided its growth.

Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints

Author: Mora, Pat

Bless Me, Ultima

Author: Anaya, Rudolfo

Christmas in Old Santa Fe

Author: Pedro Ribera Ortega

Description: Delightful book about holiday customs in Santa Fe

Cooking With the Santa Fe Opera

Author: Santa Fe Opera Guild

Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors

Author: Reston, James Jr.

Forgotten Albuquerque, NM: Images of America

Author: Bannerman, Ty

Description: In 1706, Spanish colonists founded the Villa de Albuquerque on the banks of the Rio Grande. Three hundred years later, that once quiet farming community has grown to become Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. Using over 200 vintage images from public archives and individual collections, author Ty Bannerman explores the city's many guises over time, from its prehistory as a thriving province of the Pueblo peoples to its post-World-War-II population boom.

Hispanic American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology

Author: Kanellos, Nicolas

Pueblos of the Rio Grande: A Visitor's Guide

Author: Daniel Gibson

Description: One of the best and most definitive books on the Pueblos along the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Information about pueblo events including feast days and special dances included, as well as a page or two of information about the origination and history of each pueblo. An excellent book for anyone interested in New Mexico's pueblos and the people who keep the traditions alive.

Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women

Author: Allen, Paula Gunn

The House at Otowi Bridge

Author: Church, Peggy Pond

The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook

Author: Susan D. Curtis

Description: Contains some of the very best recipes from Santa Fe School of Cooking and features glorious photography.

The Wines of New Mexico

Author: Sandersier, Andy

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