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Looking for activities to help ring in the holiday season? We've compiled a list of San Juan County events coming up in December that you'll want to add to your calendar:

Luminarias

Three events will light up the December nights with thousands of tiny candles. Riverglo will kick off the celebrations from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. The event brings hundreds of local residents to Berg Park, 400 Scott Ave., to walk along the Animas River trails lit by luminarias.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, San Juan College will host its luminaria display from 6 p.m. to midnight at the main campus, 4601 College Blvd. Thousands of luminarias will cover the campus, including walkways and the roofs of many buildings. People attending the college’s luminaria event have the option of parking on the north side of the campus and walking through the display or driving through with their headlights off to enjoy the candlelight from the warmth of their vehicles. For those who choose to walk, the college provides hot chocolate, and there are choirs singing Christmas carols.

The final luminaria display will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at Aztec Ruins National Monument off Ruins Road. Visitors can explore the archaeological site while it is lit up. As they walk through the Great Kiva and other structures, they will have the chance to look at planets through telescopes, learn about Anasazi culture and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies.

Winter solstice

The shortest day of the year is Tuesday, Dec. 22, and several local destinations will celebrate the occasion with special events.

The Farmington Public Library, 2101 Farmington Ave., will host its solstice celebration at 11 a.m. Dec. 22. At noon that day, the sun will shine through the library windows and create an arch on the floor over a large solstice marker in the center of the building.

Park rangers will also lead solstice observation programs at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, and Sunday, Dec. 20, at Aztec Ruins National Monument.

Miracle on Main Street

The city of Farmington is hoping to start a new tradition this year with its inaugural Miracle on Main Street. The event, which will feature caroling and ice skating, will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. The event will feature both indoor and outdoor activities, including an opportunity to get Christmas shopping done during an arts and crafts sale.

One of the highlights will be the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a temporary ice skating rink. The ceremony will be at 2 p.m., and throughout the day, people can enjoy free ice skating, courtesy of The Daily Times.

Other highlights include Christmas caroling, a holiday movie, games, photo opportunities inside a giant snow globe and a visit from Santa Claus.

The Miracle on Main Street will end with a holiday tree lighting ceremony at 5:45 p.m.

Live Navajo Nativity

Every year since 1984, Navajo Ministries’ Four Corners Home for Children has put together a live Nativity scene featuring residents of the home, as well as the animals that live there. The children dress in traditional Navajo clothing. People drive through the campus to view the Nativity scene.

This year, the event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, at the school's campus, 2103 W. Main St. in Farmington.

Festival of Trees

Looking for a unique Christmas tree or just wanting to get out of the house? The Presbyterian Medical Service’s Festival of Trees provides an opportunity to purchase pre-decorated trees or just to enjoy music. The festival kicks off with a purchase opportunity at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Farmington Civic Center, but the event officially opens to the public at 6 p.m. that day. The opening night coincides with the Holiday Health Fair.

On Thursday, Dec. 3, the festival will continue with two Teddy Bear story times. The first will be at 9 a.m. and the second at 10:30 a.m. The child-oriented event costs $5 per person. After the story times, the festival will open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a lunch with the trees at noon. Family night will begin at 5 p.m.

On Friday, Dec. 4, the event will start with coffee with the trees at 8 a.m. The coffee break costs $6 per person. After coffee, the festival will open to the public at 10 a.m. and will be open until 9 p.m. The Friday events include senior social time at 1 p.m. and Holiday Happy Hour at 6 p.m. The happy hour costs $10 per person.

The final day will be Saturday, Dec. 5, when the festival will open at 8 a.m. The event will close with a raffle at 1 p.m. in the civic center auditorium. That will be the final chance for people to get their Christmas tree.

View Christmas lights

The second annual Aztec Sparkles celebration will kick off its three days of activities on Thursday, Dec. 10.  Part of the event is a challenge to Aztec businesses to light up their store fronts. The business with the best holiday lights display will win $3,000 in utility credit. The businesses must have their storefronts lit up at the beginning of December and keep them lit all month, although the city is allowing them to be turned off for three days during that time period.

Businesses will be lit up all month, and a short drive down Main Avenue will provide spectators a chance to see the community's holiday spirit. While driving, visitors can stop by Bloomfield’s Salmon Park to see its annual light display sponsored by local businesses. The area along the Verde del Rio San Juan Park's river walk will also be lit up.

Santa Claus is coming to town

Santa Claus will float into the Bloomfield Aquatic Center on a sleigh pulled by swimming reindeer at noon Saturday, Dec. 12. After Santa’s sleigh circles the pool, children will have the opportunity to take pictures with him. Admission to the event is $2 per person or a nonperishable food item. Santa will also visit Bloomfield from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, for Santa in the Park at the Bloomfield Multicultural Center, 333 S. First St.

That will be only one of several stops Santa will make in the Four Corners prior to Christmas. He will also visit the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter. Pet owners can bring their furry friends to the shelter at 133 Browning Parkway to have photos taken with Santa Paws from noon until 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12. Pictures are $10, but pets that have been adopted from the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter can have their pictures taken for $8. Proceeds benefit the animals at the shelter.

The Farmington Recreation Center, Aquatic Center and Sycamore Park Community Center will team up to celebrate the holidays with the annual Jingle Bell Jamboree from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 12, at the Farmington Recreation Center, 1101 Fairgrounds Road. The event includes crafts, games, donuts and hot cocoa, as well as a visit from Santa. The cost to get in is $2 or two cans of food.

Santa will also visit Aztec residents from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at Main Street Music, 210 S. Main Ave.

Parades

Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield are all planning parades to mark the season.

The Farmington Electric Light Parade will kick off the parade season at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, in downtown Farmington. The parade takes place every year on the Thursday after Thanksgiving and is organized by the Chamber of Commerce. This year's theme is "All Aboard the Polar Express."

Chamber administrator Sue Johnson said judges will determine the winning floats based on presentation, appearance and theme.

Like Farmington's parade, Bloomfield's parade will also have a theme. The parade, which starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, will have "A Disney Christmas" theme. It will be followed by the annual Celebration of Lights.

The final parade will be part of Aztec Sparkles. The holiday lights parade will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, down Main Avenue in Aztec.

5K fun runs

Runners can get into the holiday spirit during two unique 5K races. The Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department will team up with the Farmington Downtown Association to put on the annual Reindeer Romp and North Pole Stroll. The 5K run and 2-mile walk will bring athletes to downtown Farmington. The event starts at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, at Orchard Plaza and will include activities such as carnival games, live music and a chance to see Santa. Registration is $15 and includes a shirt. The deadline to register is Thursday, Dec. 17, but late registrations will be accepted until 2 p.m. Dec. 18 with an increased fee. For more information, call 505-599-1184.

The Aztec Sparkles event will also include a 5K Santa Dash that will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at the Aztec Memorial Rose Garden, 201 W. Chaco Street. Early registration is $25 a person or $50 for a family of four. After Dec. 2, the fees will increase to $30 a person or $60 for a family of four. Register at eventbrite.com. 

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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