For generations — indeed, since 1100 A.D. — the Four Corners region has been a go-to destination for travelers who crave authentic, savory, scrapbook-worthy experiences.
That’s especially true in Aztec, the vibrant northwest New Mexico community celebrated for its stunning desert and mountain panoramas; world-class recreation like fly fishing, mountain biking; magical natural wonders like the 300-count, water-and-wind-carved Aztec Arches; and easy access to three UNESCO World Heritage sites including Aztec Ruins National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Mesa Verde National Park.
Equally impressive are the community’s many celebrations, festivals, special events and live-music performances, all of which offer travelers perfect-pair options for enhancing and embellishing their vacations to the Great American Southwest.
Headlining Aztec’s entertainment calendar is the two-day Aztec Highland Games & Celtic Music Festival. Held every October amongst a spacious and resplendent Animas River park location, the Scottish Highlands-inspired athletic contests include caber tossing, weight for height, stone putting and hammer throws, while the festival stages Scottish and Irish dance competitions, bagpiping, kids activities, clan tents and specialized merchandise, plus sumptuous food and beverage. It’s especially renowned for its dazzling musical performances from heralded local, regional and worldtouring bands. This year’s event is slated for Oct. 7-8. For online information go to www.aztechighlandgames.com or www.aztecnm.com.
Don’t miss an all-day, double-dip homage to America’s rural roots — theAntique Truck & Equipment Show and, on the same day, the Aztec Museum Founders Day. Festivities start with a morning parade on historic Main Avenue, a head-turning affair of classic cars, trucks and tractors of every sort and contraption. Then it’s off to nearby Riverside Park where guests enjoy live music, a best-in-show competition, arts and crafts, and locally sourced delicacies.
Meanwhile, the Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village will be hosting the annual Aztec Founders Day at its venerable, time-stands-still Main Avenue location. The Truck Show and Founders Day events are both slated forSaturday, Sept. 16. For online information go to www.aztecnm.com.
Downtown Aztec is another must see. The historically rich area is an effervescent setting of boutique shops, restaurants and antique stores — including a live-music venue and newly established brewery — that are steadfastly anchored by the Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village.
Further, downtown Aztec is an ideal starting point for touring the community’s impressive collection of homes and businesses that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties. Among the tour’s stops is the meticulously restored Old Fire Station, home to the San Juan County Historical Society. Plus, every fourth Friday is specially dedicated to Aztec shoppers. For online information go to www.aztecnm.com.
Wrapping up the community’s cornucopia of events is the annual Aztec Sparkles holiday celebration. It starts Dec. 7 when the Aztec Ruins hosts an “Evening of Lights” with scores of illuminating lanterns, cultural demonstrations, free cookies and hot cocoa, free park entrance and more. Then on Dec. 9, the fun turns to an arts and crafts fair, live music, a “Santa Dash” 5K run, hay wagon rides, and a Santa-led light parade on historic Main Avenue. For online information go to www.aztecchamber.com orwww.aztecnm.com.