Love Letters to Taos #8: Wagon Wheel of Celebrations

From the heart-pounding excitement of the Rodeo de Taos to the transformative fusion of art and community at The PASEO Project; From the breathtaking ascent of hot air balloons during the Taos Mountain Balloon Rally to the deep cultural grounding at the Taos Pueblo Pow Wow, Taoseños mark the passage of the year with a host of magical events. These celebrations, each representing a different facet of Taos life, invite locals, newcomers, and visitors alike to join in the traditions, artistic expressions, and community spirit that make every season in Taos a distinctive and unforgettable experience.

*Photo credit from Taos Mountain Balloon Rally


Winter Wine Festival

A multi-day extravaganza celebrating the fusion of gourmet food and exquisite wines awaits every year in Taos. Locals and visitors alike relish the opportunity to blend world-class skiing with delectable cuisine and exceptional wines. The event offers an array of activities, including enlightening seminars, indulgent wine tastings, and exclusive wine dinners co-hosted by vintners and Taos chefs.

At the Reserve Tasting, hosted at the Sagebrush Inn in Taos, a dozen of the town’s premier restaurants showcase their culinary prowess by serving signature appetizers alongside carefully selected reserve wines from the owners of 40 participating wineries. The event is heightened with a silent auction, adding an extra layer of excitement.

And let’s not overlook the Grand Tasting – the pièce de résistance. This grand event, set in the Taos Ski Valley Resort Center, boasts an impressive lineup of over 150 different wines expertly paired with culinary delights from a dozen of Taos and Taos Ski Valley’s finest restaurants. The Grand Tasting promises a feast for the senses that shouldn’t be missed.

Ben Meyers Ridge-A-Thon

The Ben Myers Ridge-A-Thon at Taos Ski Valley embodies the spirit of uniting for a dual purpose: working hard and having a blast, all while contributing to health-related services and support for members of our community facing challenges.

Year after year, participants and generous donors rally together to raise funds for the Emergency Medicines Fund at Taos Community Foundation. This fund provides crucial grants in the realms of health and basic needs in Taos and Western Colfax Counties.

The Ridge-A-Thon, a thrilling snow sports event at Taos Ski Valley, unfolds as participants conquer the hike-to terrain over two exhilarating days or opt for a single hike. For those not inclined to ski, board, or hike, an alternative “Ridge Challenge” is available. Participants can design their own TSV mountain pursuit (with prior approval from TSV), ensuring inclusivity in this heartwarming community event.


Taos Spring Arts

In the vibrant ambiance of spring in Taos, creativity takes center stage with the Taos Spring Arts celebration. Born in 1984 from the visionary mind of Feeny (Anna Rose) Lipscomb, then owner of the Historic Taos Inn, this event was conceived to inject life into the traditionally slow month of April. With a “go big or go home” approach, Feeny and her dedicated team orchestrated a whirlwind of arts-related activities, transforming the town into a kaleidoscope of warmth and color. The inaugural celebration welcomed renowned figures throughout the month, drawing visitors from around the world to witness the artistic splendor of Taos. Today, Taos Spring Arts continues its tradition, showcasing the best of Taos’ creativity through a week of exhibitions, art shows, walks, projections, poetry, performance art, film, and music.

Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally

While South Dakota hosts Sturgis, Texas has the Thunder on the Colorado, and the nation rallies for the Annual Run for the Wall, Taos County proudly showcases one of the oldest motorcycle gatherings in the country—the Annual Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally. For an impressive 41 years, this event has transformed Red River into a five-day extravaganza of excitement! The town comes alive with the reverberations of live music echoing from every corner, and vendors offer a diverse array of goods, from leather and lace to delectable food and enjoyable activities.

The neighboring communities of Taos, Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, and Questa enthusiastically join the festivities with special Memorial Weekend events, providing ample additional lodging and dining options. As the rally draws to a close on Monday morning, participants embark on a collective journey to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire before returning to the routine hustle and bustle of everyday life. This annual gathering spans from Thursday to Monday, making it a cherished tradition over the Memorial Day weekend.


Rodeo de Taos

The Annual Rodeo de Taos showcases a diverse range of rodeo competitions, from barrel racing to saddle bronc riding, drawing enthusiastic crowds and marking the return of the event since 2019. The two-day event is crowned by the thrilling spectacle of bull riding, featuring fearless riders taking on bulls weighing over 2,000 pounds. The modern rodeo, blending Southwest tradition with adrenaline-fueled spectacles, emphasized safety with protective gear. The festivities paid homage to the late members of the Taos County Sheriff’s Posse, honoring their contributions.

Taos Pride

Taos Pride organizes community events that celebrate diversity, raise awareness, and offer a secure space for individuals to express their true selves. The mission of Taos Pride is to foster a diverse and inclusive community through engaging events, programs, and services that advocate for equality and self-expression.

Mary Caperton Morton

*Photo Credit Mary Caperton Morton.

Taos Pueblo Pow Wow

Indian tribes from across the nation converge in Taos for a three-day pow wow, engaging in traditional dance competitions amidst a vibrant atmosphere of craft booths and food vendors. The pow wow, symbolizing unity among diverse tribal nations, serves as a nexus for sharing, friendship, singing, dancing, and the exchange of craft goods and songs. Originally rooted in celebrations marking successful hunts or harvests, as well as ceremonial dances related to war and victories, the pow wow has evolved into a contemporary social dance and a joyous celebration.

The festivities typically commence with a Grand Entry, where dancers, led by a tribal elder or veteran carrying an eagle feather staff—the universal symbol of Indian people—enter the arena. Following the singing of a flag song or the national anthem, and an invocation by a tribal elder, intertribal dancing kicks off, allowing all participants to showcase their dancing prowess. Dance competitions, categorized by age group and style, feature traditional, fancy, grass, and chicken dances for men, while women participate in traditional, fancy shawl, and jingle dress dances. These styles may be further divided into Northern and Southern dance styles within the “traditional” category. Age groups range from Tiny Tots to Golden. The pow wow is not just a competition; it’s a cultural celebration that brings people together in the spirit of unity and tradition.

Las Fiestas de Taos

For centuries, the people of Taos have celebrated the Feast of St. Anne and St. James, known as “The Taos Fiestas.” . The Fiestas are a cherished tradition passed down through generations, preserving the unique tri-cultural way of life in Taos, blending Pueblo and Plains Indians, Spanish explorers, conquistadores, French fur trappers, and American mountain men over the last four centuries.

Today, the Fiestas encompass a diverse array of activities, including the selection of a Fiestas Queen, musical and dance performances on the Plaza every hour, and a commemorative Mass and procession from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church opening the event on Friday evening. The celebration is marked by vendor booths offering food, drinks, and curios, creating a lively atmosphere in the streets around the Plaza.


Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance

Celebrating its 21st year, Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance Music Festival in Kit Carson Park, Taos, New Mexico, is a musical haven featuring top artists in Americana, Folk, Bluegrass, and Singer-Songwriter genres. Renowned for its intimate concert hall and two dance floors, the festival is a beloved tradition, attracting both music enthusiasts and two-steppers. The stage has welcomed legendary songwriters and emerging talents, offering a unique listening room experience in a festival setting. The event’s atmosphere is unparalleled, bringing music enthusiasts from around the country for a taste of Taos’s cowboy country atmosphere. With nearby restaurants, lodging, shops, and art galleries, attendees can savor not only exceptional music but also explore Taos’s vibrant culture.

PASEO Project

Enriching the community through art and fostering a reciprocal relationship between art and community, local and national artists will converge in Taos for The PASEO 2023 festival on September 15 and 17. The festival will showcase a diverse range of works, spanning from low-tech to new media, all characterized by their dynamic interaction with the public and the surrounding environment. Whether illuminating Taos’s adobe walls or bringing vibrancy to Kit Carson Park, these artistic endeavors encapsulate The Paseo Project’s core mission of transforming both art and community. In addition to the annual outdoor art festival in Historic Downtown Taos, The Paseo Project engages in collaborative community projects and hosts a socially-engaged artist-in-residence program, solidifying its commitment to the intersection of art and community. Since 2014, artists worldwide have contributed projection, installation, and performance art to the streets of Taos during this free two-night event.

Glam trash fashion show

The Glam Trash Fashion Show in Taos presents a complimentary public art spectacle, featuring a runway competition showcasing recycled wearable art. Participants strut to the live beats of a band, creating a dazzling, joyous celebration that transcends age, embracing recycling, fashion, and creativity.

Established in 2001, the Glam Trash Fashion Show has become an iconic event in Taos. The invitation is extended to all to craft wearable pieces using a minimum of 90% reclaimed materials—no recycled clothing but instead rescued materials from the waste stream, such as saved coffee bags, film negatives, billboards, book pages, pop tops, and more. Participants are categorized into three age groups: 12 & under, 13 to 19, and Adults 20+. A nominal entry fee for each group contributes entirely to prize money and insurance. Organized and executed by dedicated unpaid volunteers, Glam Trash is a true labor of love.

San Geronimo Day

On September 30th, we celebrate the Annual San Geronimo Feast Day, welcoming visitors to join Taos Pueblo in a day of family, friends, and feasting. The morning kicks off with traditional footraces at 8 am, open to the public for observation. A trade fair near and far enhances the festive atmosphere, offering an open market throughout the day with wares from various vendors. Laughter fills the afternoon as the Koshare, or Sacred Clowns, engage with the community from 1 pm to 5 pm. This day holds sacred significance, and visitors from the wider community know to show utmost respect for all elements of the Taos Pueblo community. To maintain the sanctity of the occasion, no recording devices, including cell phones, cameras, drones, etc., are allowed– but that’s just fine, because San Geronimo Day is truly an unforgettable experien

Taos Mountain Balloon Rally

The Taos Mountain Balloon Rally stands as a true community affair in Taos. Annually, on the last full weekend in October, amidst the vibrant hues of autumn foliage, the Taos skies transform into a mesmerizing spectacle with dozens of brightly colored hot air balloons ascending into the crisp dawn of a Taos Mountain sunrise.

Distinctive for its intimate scale, the rally is an invitation-only event featuring 35-50 balloons and crews each year. Its smaller size fosters an inviting atmosphere, drawing balloonists, families, crews, Taoseños, and visitors alike. Mornings offer a close encounter with the balloonists as crews prepare for launch, creating a unique and personal experience. The three-day event includes dawn mass ascensions, evening balloon glows, a parade, and a grand ball, contributing to the rally’s popularity and warm community spirit.

In Taos, every season unfolds as a canvas painted with the vivid strokes of cultural diversity, artistic expression, and vibrant community spirit. From the heart-stopping bull rides to the ethereal dance of hot air balloons, the rhythmic beat of Taos is a celebration that transcends seasons, leaving indelible memories in its wake. Come, be a part of the mosaic that defines Taos—an invitation to revel in the unique tapestry of life, art, and tradition, woven together in the enchanting landscape of New Mexico.