There's a reason Santa Fe is a favorite destination among art-obsessed travelers. After all, where else can you find not just a handful but ten art markets and festivals in one summer? But what makes these events special isn't the sheer number of them. It's the fact that they all provide the rare opportunity to connect with the artists themselves. Whether it's the week of international folk art or Native American art, the markets are a great place to learn about Santa Fe's diverse heritage and creative ethos -- a cultural education come to life.
Of course, you don't have to be a serious collector to attend, but if you are interested in doing some shopping, you’ll find top-quality, handmade goods (some of the festivals are "juried," so the talent is best-of-the-best), and the souvenirs mean that much more when you’ve heard the stories of their makers. Here are a few highlights:
- International Folk Art Market (July 8 to 10): Kicking off the summer series with a bang, this showcase of nearly 200 international artists is the largest of its kind in the world. Connect with an awe-inspiring variety of craftspeople, bringing jewelry, basket weaving, glasswork, textiles, and even musical instruments from countries like Kyrgyzstan and South Korea. Bonus: If you have time while you're in town, also check out ART Santa Fe, a fair hosting illustrious galleries from around the world, which takes place on the same weekend.
- Traditional Spanish Market (July 30 & 31): The culmination of a week of celebrations known as ¡Viva La Cultura!, this market is all about the Spanish Colonial arts. You’ll have the chance to meet 250 artists from New Mexico and Southern Colorado, specializing in everything from woodcarving and tinwork, to filigree and jewelry making. We love that there’s a place for young, mentored artists here. And if you love modern art, it's held concurrently with the 29-year-old Contemporary Hispanic Market.
- Santa Fe Indian Market (August 20 & 21): If we had to pick just one out of all these fantastic events to name the quintessential Santa Fe market, this would be it. Not only is it the city’s most popular affair year-round, it breaks yet another world record as the largest market devoted to Native American arts anywhere. Featuring more than 1,000 artists and designers from all tribes, consider it a crash course in Native art. The celebration is bolstered with food, music, film, and more.
A few tips on etiquette: Don’t be afraid to engage with the artists, if that’s what you’re interested in. Some may be more reserved, particularly the Native vendors, but rest assured that everyone is very happy to share their craft. Asking about their technique and how they mastered it is an easy, natural way to kick things off. If you have a specific interest, taking a look at the exhibit map before diving in will keep you from getting overwhelmed. On a practical note, don’t arrive carrying a large shoulder bag or other gear -- with innumerable opportunities to learn, chat, and simply admire the work, knocking into displays or other visitors is the last thing you’ll want to worry about.
What: A series of 10 art-related events in July and August, featuring local and international talent.
Where: In and around Santa Fe's Historic Downtown Plaza, the Santa Fe Railyard, the Community Convention Center, and Museum Hill.
When: July 8 through August 20. For a quick glance, Tourism Santa Fe has a has a complete listing here.
Who It's Good For: Those who seek opportunities to meet locals, or who simply love the arts and shopping will naturally have a great time.
How Much: Some have free admission; others charge between $5 and $10 for one-day tickets, with multi-day passes or bundles available.