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Santa Fe's 10 Best Art and Culture Events this August

Picture of Julie Daunt
Julie Daunt
Updated: 9 February 2017
Santa Fe, New Mexico, is one of the oldest cities in the United States and has attracted interest from tourists, travellers and artists for decades. With celebrated local art and its designation as a UNESCO Creative City, it’s no surprise that Santa Fe has a calendar brimming with culture events. From bluegrass music to Native Indian artefacts and mindful yoga, there is plenty to see and do in Santa Fe this August.

Music | Santa Fe Bandstand

23 June – 28 August

Taking place at the Santa Fe Plaza, Santa Fe Bandstand is a free music festival that features the best of Santa Fe’s music, from blues to Latin. The festival is organised by Outside In Productions, whose aim is to bring the arts to those with limited access to them. Started in 2002, the Santa Fe Bandstand music series has since attracted big local and international names, with this year featuring a variety of acts from Grammy award winning guitarist Larry Mitchell , to the soulful R&B singing sensation Zenobia. Furthermore, 2014 will also see five winners of the New Mexico Music Award take to the bandstand, with over 100 concerts taking place day and night. The festival will be brought to a close by alternative country songwriter and performer Joe West on 28 August.

Santa Fe Bandstand, 100 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM, USA, +1 505 9866054


namani ishihara painting
Nanami Ishihara, ‘Yamaonna’. Japanese pigment, acrylic gouache on cotton, mounted on panel, 76 3/8 x 153 7/8 in, 2012 | Courtesy Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

Art | Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

25 July – 23 August

Bringing Japanese contemporary art to Santa Fe is the IMPACTS! ・勢み art exhibition at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art. Created in collaboration with Mizuma Art Gallery in Tokyo, the IMPACTS! exhibition features over 15 emerging artists, from the likes of AMANO Yoshitaka, who is a designer of images from popular computer game Final Fantasy, to KATO Ai, who gained notoriety as a street artist but has also forged a new path in contemporary Japanese art. The exhibition encourages dialogue between Japanese and US culture, and will include panel discussions, artists’ talks, film screenings and a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. Visitors will also be able to witness live painting from KATO Ai. The exhibition is free, in order to encourage community involvement in contemporary art.

Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, 435 S. Guadalupe St. Santa Fe, NM, USA, +1 505 9828111


Music | Santa Fe Opera Festival Season

27 June – 23 August

Providing Santa Fe with a long tradition of operatic delights, The Santa Fe Opera returns for its summer festival season. Taking place in the state-of-the-art Crosby Theatre, this year’s season features well known productions, such as the sizzling love-story Carmen, the comical Don Pasquale, the heroic Fidelio, the historic opera Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. For the first time since 1993, the Santa Fe Opera will also host two shorter operas which will be performed on the same night. The two selected works are Mozart’s The Impresario, a chaotic tale behind an opera production. In this brief yet witty production, divas fight over the lead role in Stravinsky’s one act opera, Le Rossignol, which coincidently forms the second half of the nights billing, creating a perfectly framed operatic evening. The Santa Fe Opera’s production of Le Rossignol also marks the centennial of the opera’s premiere in 1914 in Paris. There are also new and fresh performances from the Apprentice Showcase Scenes, where the stars of tomorrow perform fully staged opera scenes.

Opera Festival Season, Santa Fe Opera House, 301 Opera Drive, Santa Fe, NM, USA, +1 505 9865955

Performing Arts | Santa Fe Musical Theatre Festival

2 – 9 August

The Santa Fe Musical Theatre Festival brings together various members involved in musical theatre, from composers to playwrights and lyricists, in a fête of creative delights. Contributors can submit and present their original work in front of an audience of industry professional and general visitors. There are also intensive workshops held by leading guest artists in acting, singing and dance, which give festival participants support and guidance. Visitors can also attend these workshops as well as attending performances and staged readings. Visitors to the Santa Fe Musical Theatre Festival can experience fresh and innovative examples of musical theatre in The City Different.

Santa Fe Musical Theatre Festival , Greer Garson Theatre, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, 1600 St Michaels Dr, Santa Fe, NM, USA


Art | El Museo Cultural

14 – 21 August

Celebrating Santa Fe’s artistic feats, from the historic to the modern day, are two exhibitions and shows taking place at El Museo Cultural. The first is the Objects of Art show, which this year features over sixty five exhibitors with a wide variety of media, from fine art to textiles to jewellery to furniture. Organised by Kim Martindale and John Morris, the Objects of Art show features artists and contributors from all over the USA, such as New York and California. The following week sees El Museo Cultural also celebrating the American Indian heritage of Santa Fe with the Antique American Indian Art Show, which is now in its third year. The proceeds of the show’s opening night will also go towards the Institute of the American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, which is a key partner of the show.

Objects of Art/The Antique American Indian Art Show, El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, 555 Camino de la Familia, Santa Fe, NM, USA, +1 505 6604701


Music | Santa Fe Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival

22 – 24 August

Now in its 40th year, the Santa Fe Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival is a showcase of local, regional and national musical talent with live concerts, dances, workshops and competitions. Although celebrating the tradition of bluegrass, many of the performers adapt modern tunes in the bluegrass style, giving the festival a modern edge. There is also the famous Band Scramble, which sees randomly selected participants placed in teams, and given only a few hours to learn a song, and to perform on stage. The festival also has free camping, vendor stalls and the best of Santa Fe’s food.

Santa Fe Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival, Santa Fe County Fairgrounds, 3229 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM, USA, +1 505 8912829


santa fe chamber music festival
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival | Courtesy of Matthew De Velder/Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Music | Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Until 25 August

Since 1972, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival has become a renowned event of musical distinction and innovation. A six week festival comprising more than 80 concerts, classes, open rehearsals and recitals, the festival welcomes distinguished musicians to the stage along with fresh and emerging talent. There is also a Composer-in-Residence programme that seeks to encourage communication between composers, musicians and the audience. This programme sees the performance of specially commissioned works, and also the composer becoming the performer.

The festival also boasts unique and intimate settings, such as the historic St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Lensic Performing Arts Center, and also the Simms Auditorium at Albuquerque Academy. While there are ticketed concerts at the festival, there are also a number of free events, such as youth concerts and the young composer’s string quartet project, meaning there is something for all ages.

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival , Greer Garson Theatre, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, 1600 St Michaels Dr, Santa Fe, NM, USA


Art | Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Events throughout August

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which opened its doors in 2007, is the only museum in the United States dedicated to an internationally renowned female artist. The museum holds a collection of over 3000 of O’Keeffe’s works, making it the largest repository of her art. While the museum is primarily about O’Keeffe’s talents, the space has also exhibited the works of over 140 other artists, from Andy Warhol to Sherry Levine. The museum’s current exhibition (on show until 17 September) features the works of O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, created in Hawaii. The exhibition reveals the effect Hawaii had on O’Keeffe and Adams, which is captured in the dramatic paintings of O’Keeffe and poignant photographs of Adams.

Over the course of August, there are a number of free events at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. There are visual lectures such as Barbara Arlen’s Breakfast with O’Keeffe, where Arlen will discuss use of artistic materials, and how they affected her paintings. There will also be a Hawaiian slack-key guitar performance from John Serkin in the museum’s courtyard. There are also a number of workshops, such as the fundamentals of landscape painting to creative writing sessions. If visitors have also worked up an appetite, the Santa Fe School of Cooking will explore some of O’Keeffe’s recipes from her book A Painter’s Kitchen (August 15).

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 217 Johnson Street, Santa Fe, NM, USA, +1 505 9461000


santa fe indian market
Native American Clothing Contest at the Santa Fe Indian Market | Photo: Max McDonald / Courtesy SWAIA

Event | Santa Fe Indian Market and Indian Market Week

12 – 24 August

Started in 1922 by Edgar L. Hewett, and located in the historic plaza at the heart of the city, the Santa Fe Indian Market is now entering its 93rd year. Hosted by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, this event brings over 175,000 visitors, 1,100 artists from over 220 Indian tribes, over 600 booths to Santa Fe covering 14 downtown city blocks, making it one of the city’s most popular, unique and exciting events. Although primarily about the market, the event is more of a family festival in its nature, and includes a vast variety of other activities, such as the SWAIA’s Indian Market Film Festival, Music on the Plaza, a Native American clothing contest, as well as lectures and workshops.

Preceding the market itself is what is known as Indian Market Week, resulting in nearly two weeks of Native Indian inspired events. The Indian Market both reflects and rejuvenates Native Indian culture, and has attracted generations of participants for the last century. However, the Indian Market also portrays how Indian culture has evolved in Santa Fe, with modern examples of Indian art and craft on display. There is also a vast selection of Native Indian food available at the market, as well as independent booksellers, meaning that this famous event can be regarded as the ultimate immersive experience of Native Indian culture and heritage.

Santa Fe Indian Market and Indian Market Week, various locations in Santa Fe. +1 505 983522

Event | Santa Fe Yoga Festival 2014

28 – 31 August

The Santa Fe Yoga Festival is one of Santa Fe’s newer festivals, and takes place at Bishop’s Lodge Ranch and Resort, providing festival goers with spectacular vistas of rolling hills and vast canyons. The event opens with a Native American Opening Ceremony followed by a bonfire on the Mesa. There is a wild yoga hike with Barbara Powell which will focus on enhancing the connection between yoga and nature. After a morning full of empowerment, visitors can unwind with some Native Spirits Music in the Teahouse Tent. Saturday night also features a special musical event, with The Beatles’ Yoga Multimedia Experience, which features a seven piece band and visuals, which will bring visitors on a magical, mystery tour. There are also other creative workshops, such as Mastering the Art of Photography, and a traditional New Mexico Fiesta dinner.

Santa Fe Yoga Festival, Bishop’s Lodge Ranch and Resort, 1297 Bishops Lodge Road, Santa Fe, NM, USA, +1 505 9836377


By Julie Daunt