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NMSU’s ‘Noche de Luminarias’ to return next year after 2020 hiatus

New Mexico State University’s annual luminaria display and winter festival at the Las Cruces campus, a tradition now known as “Noche de Luminarias” that began more than 30 years ago, will return in 2021, if public health conditions allow.


Luminarias light up walking paths.
New Mexico State University’s ‘Noche de Luminarias’ will go on hiatus this year, but NMSU officials hope the winter festival and luminaria display will return in 2021. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

Every December, NMSU welcomes hundreds of community members of all ages for “Noche de Luminarias,” a night filled with holiday cheer, horse-driven carriage rides, hot cocoa and cookies, caroling with students – and more than 7,000 twinkling luminarias displayed around Corbett Center Student Union, the International Mall and nearby dormitory complexes.

The festival, however, will take a hiatus this year, a decision NMSU officials made in response to state public health orders restricting large gatherings to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

“We know how important this event is to the NMSU and Las Cruces community, but even before Friday’s announcement of additional restrictions on gatherings and business operations, we had decided to wait until next year, when we hope we can have the event we all know and love,” said Mathew Madrid, president of the Associated Students of NMSU, which coordinates the festival with support from Corbett Center, Auxiliary Services, Student Involvement and Leadership Programs, and Dining Services.

While Madrid and other NMSU officials expressed disappointment about canceling this year’s “Noche de Luminarias,” they are eager for community members to return to campus next year.

“Being brand new to the NMSU community, I have heard many wonderful stories about the fun and festive atmosphere that ‘Noche de Luminarias’ creates for the students and members of the Las Cruces community, and I am very much looking forward to seeing that in action next year,” said Sarah Edwards, director of Student Involvement and Leadership Programs.

“In the meantime,” Edwards added, “if individuals want to purchase their own luminarias from the group who has been partnering with ‘Noche de Luminarias’ for many years, they can be ordered online at https://www.lchsshowcaseband.com/."

The first iteration of this longstanding winter festival occurred more than three decades ago, as a small celebration hosted by NMSU’s president. It has since morphed into a grand spectacle that has attracted tens of thousands of visitors over the years, featuring one of the largest displays of luminarias in southern New Mexico and visits from Santa Claus and other notable figures.

For NMSU students, ‘Noche de Luminarias’ serves as an opportunity to directly engage with community members and have fun before entering finals week.

“It’s one of the few events in the year where people from all walks of life come and celebrate the sense of family and unity that makes southern New Mexico such a special place to live,” Madrid said. “It’s the home we all share and appreciate.”
For more information about “Noche de Luminarias,” contact ASNMSU at asnmsu@nmsu.edu or 575-646-4415.