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New Mexico’s Event Season Goes Virtual

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Due to mellowing temperatures and a bountiful harvest season, the months of September and October typically bunch New Mexico’s best events and festivals into a very short span of time. Autumn is quite possibly the best time to party in the Land of Enchantment. It all starts with chile roasting and the burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe, the State Fair, SOMOS, ¡Globalquerque!, and countless other smaller celebrations. It’s then crowned by the largest of them all, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Typically, that is.

In 2020, all bets are off. Most of these celebrations announced cancellations months ago. But don’t hang up your hat just yet, Burqueño. There are still plenty of ways to participate in virtual events, and even some opportunities to attend events in person. Here’s what’s happening, and how to find out more as we adapt to sheltering in place. 

The Burning of Zozobra

The first big tradition getting a COVID-19 makeover is the burning of Old Man Gloom, or Zozobra, on September 4. You can watch the show live on KOAT (ABC), but why not see it in person? Get in with the distanced crowd and chant “Burn him!” from your car, with up to five others, by purchasing tickets at AMP Concerts. Click here for more information.

There are also a slew of outdoor dance parties, DJ competitions and concerts coming up, some streaming local artists, others playing for live audiences. Check out Raashan Ahmad’s Love and Happiness Dance Party, “a soul, funk, Motown GET DOWN!” part of the AMP Concerts Drive-in concert series, on September 5. The Albuquerque Museum also throws their own jam every third Thursday of the month and you can learn more about everything at AMP.


Save the grape! New Mexico’s wine industry was hit especially hard during the pandemic, with wineries closed to the public, limited distribution and an early, record grape size with many vineyards reaching early, full maturity. Wait, that last thing’s good, right? Not at the moment. In order to save the next harvest, we need to mobilize the current vintage and sell four month’s worth of wine in thirty days.

That effort is already well underway at, an all-out push to promote local wine from the New Mexico Wine & Grape Growers Association. The promotion culminates on September 12 with GRAPE AID 2020. Buy any case of wine online or donate $22 and receive admission to the virtual benefit concert featuring some of New Mexico’s favorite poets, celebrities, bands, performers and winemakers.

New Mexico State Fair

Ah, the New Mexico State Fair. We’re certainly going to miss the Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge, the rides, warm churros and fried you-don’t-want-to-know-what. But all isn’t lost. The Fair is going virtual September 14-20 with plenty of competitions, shows and some pretty cool ways to support local arts and crafts, so check out the details here and don’t break your annual rite of New Mexico passage.

Albuquerque Film + Music Experience

AFMX is going virtual this year with films, Intimate Conversations and a few workshops, September 22-27. They will have some great educational components, providing free events to students at UNM, CNM and schools throughout ABQ that have film, music and the arts as part of their curriculum. Find out more here.


This fall ¡Globalquerque!, New Mexico’s Annual Celebration of World Music & Culture, will team with other members of the Consortium of World Music Presenters to present the debut of Global Music Month 2020, a month-long, online festival of global music featuring concerts, presentations and panels. Running from August 29th through October 1st, Global Music Month 2020 will combine over 15 different U.S. and Canadian festivals and presenter’s events under one banner for a celebration of international music.

¡Globalquerque!’s entry will be the ¡Globalquerque! Cross-Cultural Crossover on September 30. This special virtual presentation will feature four past ¡Globalquerque! performers: Rahim Alhaj (Iraq), Nation Beat (Brazil/USA), Vivalda Ndula (Angola) and Nohe & Sus Santos (Honduras/USA), but not in a typical concert situation. Instead each
band will be joined by members of the other acts to de-construct and re-imagine one another’s songs. In between, past festival MCs and journalists Catalina Maria Johnson (Beat Latino/NPR) and Mel Minter (ABQ The Magazine/Musically Speaking) will host.

Check out everything that’s happening on September 30 here.


Entering just its fourth year, SOMOS ABQ is being virtually reimagined for our era on October 10. While limited in size and scope, the festival remains committed to celebrating the artists and creators of Albuquerque, and intends to announce all the deets pronto. We at Yelp ABQ plan to assist with a “Taste of SOMOS” angle of the festivities.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Yes, the 49th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been rescheduled for 2021 and no, there’s nothing else — technically — to report. We here at Yelp ABQ are hopeful, however, that our efforts to celebrate the rite of hot air balloon passage will include something great come early October. Keep an eye on our events calendar and don’t be surprised if we find some way, somehow, to mark the close of fall events across the state.

Other Notable Events

NM Prickly Pear Festival (September 12): Free and celebrating everything prickly-pear, this year with a virtual vendor store and online market. Find out more here.

Albuquerque Sky Lantern Festival (September 26): Details about where this festival will be held are hard to come by, but tickets aren’t. This outdoor event even has fun accessories like fire pits and s’mores. Admission dropped more than 80% this year and tickets start at just $20.

Low Rez Arts Festival (October 2): A super-local event celebrating dynamic artists and creative types, this 4th annual pop-up is slated to return to downtown Albuquerque. Learn more here.

Way Out West Film Fest: Going virtual October 2020 — dates and details TBA. Check their website for updates.

Yelp Community Virtual Events: Want to take your virtual adventures to a national level? Yelp offers Community Virtual Events across the country, many open to the general public. All you need is a free Yelp account. Meet amazing business owners, learn new things, and connect with other Yelpers. Find out about our events and RSVP here.