Santa Fe, New Mexico, Celebrates 300 Year Old Community Celebration — Fiesta de Santa Fe 2012, Sept. 1 – Sept. 9

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Fiesta de Santa Fe, dating back to 1712, is the oldest on-going community celebration in the country. Starting September 1st with the Fiesta Fine Arts and Craft Market during Labor Day weekend and ending with Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi on September 9th, the Fiesta de Santa Fe celebration began historically 300 years ago when the then-governor of the province Jose Chacon Medina Salazar y Villaseor, ordered the first Fiesta de Santa Fe. This event is featured on Santa Fe’s premier on-line visitor guide

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Celebrates 300 Year Old Community Celebration — Fiesta de Santa Fe 2012, Sept. 1 – Sept. 9

The oldest on-going community celebration in the country, Fiesta de Santa Fe, dates back to 1712. The origins of this event are historically connected to Spanish colonial leader Don Diego De Vargas when he prayed to La Conquistadora, a wood carved Marian statue, brought by Fray Alonso de Benavides to Santa Fe in 1625, asking her in his prayers to help his troops in their quest for victory to take Santa Fe back over from the Pueblo Indians that conquered the city in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. The Fiesta de Santa Fe is a featured event on the event calendar.

De Vargas and his troops took Santa Fe back over by the end of 1693. He gave accolades to the Madonna for advocating his triumph. The city’s leaders then wrote a proclamation for a yearly celebration honoring the non-violent resettlement in 1692

Nowadays the historical Santa Fe Plaza in the downtown area is the stage for this annual celebration. An open community event, Fiesta de Santa Fe offers a very fun weekend complete with Spanish dancing at the Gran Baile de la Fiesta (Grand Ball), food, art and craft booths, parades, The Fiesta Melodrama and ceremonies with a costumed Don Diego De Vargas and court of the Queen and Princesses of the Fiesta.

Fiesta de Santa Fe highlights are as follows:     

17th-Century New Mexico
The Historical Fiesta Lecture takes place September 5 at 6 p.m. at the New Mexico History Museum. State Historian Rick Hendricks examines the complex political landscape of late 17th-century New Mexico, when, during the final phase of the Spanish conquest of New Mexico, Gov. Diego de Vargas parlayed diplomatic relations with the Pueblo factions in pursuit of his goal of a governable province.

Burn Him! Burn Him!

Cheer with the crowd as Zozobra burns after dark on Thursday, September 6 at Fort Marcy Park. Doors open at 3 p.m. for concerts, picnics and fun leading up to the moment when Zozobra is set aflame.

Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas

Learn about the true meaning of Fiesta at this re-enactment of General Don Diego de Vargas and his Cuadrilla along with American Indian allies who peacefully resettled Santa Fe in September 1692. The Entrada begins at 2 p.m. Friday, September 7 on the Plaza.

Desfiles de los Ninos/Pet Parade

Children and their pets—dogs, cats, snakes, llamas, goats and more—take to the streets in the annual pet parade, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, September 8 on the Plaza.

La Merienda de la Fiesta

This fashion show features vintage clothing a large collection of traditional and antique dresses owned and preserved by La Sociedad Folklorica. Members of the society, along with their daughters and granddaughters, model the unique fashions. This show is held at 3 p.m., Saturday, September 8 at the James A. Little Theater.

Gran Baile de la Fiesta

A cherished tradition for more than a century, this Grand Ball is held to honor the Fiesta Royalty, with historical and colorful attire. The ball begins at 7:30 p.m. on September 8 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

Defiles de la Gente/Historical Parade

The Historical/Hysterical Parade features marching bands, Mariachis, sport teams, queens, floats and politicians of every ilk. It steps off at 12:30 p.m. downtown on Sunday, September 9.

Fiesta Mass of Thanksgiving at St Francis Cathedral

Perhaps the most visually stunning event is the final event of the Fiesta. A candlelight procession follows a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Hundreds of participants make their way through the historic downtown streets from the cathedral and up the hill to the Cross of the Martyrs, where luminarias, a small festival or vigil bonfire, dot the hill and light the way of participants. The lights from the luminarias and twinkling candles are a sight to be seen.

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