Do You Have an Appetite for Art? Indulge in the Santa Fe Arts Festival

For the last two weeks of October, Santa Fe, New Mexico will be an artistic feast for visitors and locals with appetites for art, architecture, music, history, film and food.

From October 20-23, The Santa Fe Film Festival will again serve as an anchor event to the Santa Fe Arts Festival.  The fall-colored aspens, warm days and cool nights are the perfect time to immerse yourself in creative works of film and art.

As a part-time resident of Santa Fe (and Phoenix), October is my favorite month of the year. I always try to schedule my writing and producing projects so that I can be in New Mexico for the Balloon Fiesta and the Santa Fe Film Festival. After Albuquerque’s world’s largest balloon gathering, it’s time to drive up or take a relaxing Railrunner train trip to Santa Fe.

Santa Fean Magazine publisher Bruce Adams created the Santa Fe Arts Festival with the intention that the city of Santa Fe will continue as a cultural center for the world. He wants festival goers to come away with the feeling that they’ve had a “total Santa Fe experience: from art to music to film.”

Under a second year umbrella of the Santa Fe Arts Festival, individually managed anchor events include the Canyon Roads Festival, the Santa Fe Film Festival and the Santa Fe Symphony. Proceeds from a number of Santa Fe Arts Festival events will go to benefit the Santa Fe Public Schools Music Program.

Canyon Road Festival

This year, the Canyon Road Festival will include what Bruce Adams hopes will become an annual event: the Children’s Parade. Just one-half mile from the Plaza, Canyon Road offers over 100 galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

If Santa Fe is an art lover’s Mecca, then Canyon Road is surely it’s cultural hub. The Canyon Road Festival brings together Native American, Spanish and Folk Art into a captivating experience.

This year, the Canyon Road Festival will feature:

  • October 15: Watch artists at work throughout the day in Paint-Out! (10am-4pm)
  • October 15: Canyon Road Children’s Parade (12:00 pm)
  • October 28: Discover Delgado: 4th Friday Canyon Road Art Walk

During the outdoor Paint-Out! event, in a feast for the senses, artists invite guests to participate in their creations. Artwork is created, food is cooked and children play music. Proceeds from an after party at Canyon Road’s El Farol restaurant will benefit the Santa Fe Children’s Music program.

In addition to the featured Canyon Road events, I especially like the fiber artists because it’s just fascinating to watch a puff of cotton or wool be dyed into any number of colors, spun into thread and then woven into blankets and garments. For more info on the Canyon Road Festival, go to

Santa Fe Film Festival

The Santa Fe Film Festival, in its 12th year, isn’t just for film fanatics. It’s for everyone to observe, participate and appreciate. When I asked Bruce Adams how art could be necessary to the average citizen, he replied, “all art forms have a practical application in our lives as they give our minds and our souls a different place to live.” In particular, “film allows us to escape the pressures of daily life,” if even for only a couple of hours.

In 2006, the first time I attended the Santa Fe Film Festival, I was struck by how accessible the filmmakers were. Here I was sitting in the middle of the gorgeous Lensic Performing Arts Center watching Juno. I didn’t know until afterwards, that one of the film’s producers was in the back of the theatre watching audience reaction. A few months later, Juno was released and went on to gross over $200 million dollars.

Within the next two years, I was privileged to be in a relatively small room of writers listening to the likes of Kirk Ellis (just off his John Adams Emmy win) and Bruce C. McKenna (who would go on to write and produce HBO’s The Pacific) talk about all things screenwriting.

And that’s just to name a few. When you attend the Santa Fe Film Festival, the film is personally introduced and after the screening, the film’s director, producer or principal actors take questions. You come away with a much different experience from a movie when you feel like you’re a part of the process.  In some cases, viewer feedback has resulted in “work-in-progress” films being re-edited.

The Santa Fe Film Festival presents its screenings at several stunning locations. The architecture and history enhance the cinematic arts experience.

Santa Fe Symphony

Back in the day, long before becoming a writer, I played classical violin. So, when I had the privilege to hear the Santa Fe Symphony—our professional full-sized orchestra and chorus—perform at The Lensic Performing Arts Center, it was as if I had come home. It was an emotional experience to be surrounded by such incredible voices and music.

On October 30, this year’s “Bach on the Brain” will be conducted by Steve Smith, Music Director and Conductor. A pre-concert lecture takes place one hour before the performance.

Santa Fe has all the culture and sophistication of a much larger city, but retains its local sense of place. By the last two weeks in October, the summer crowds are gone and the locals have time to chat. It’s the ideal time to visit the City Different.