Silver City is a town that is big on both outdoors and culture. Located in the sunny southwestern corner of New Mexico, the town is known across the state (and the Southwest!) for its adventure competitions, art events, and music gatherings. Here’s our rundown of a dozen unique events worth traveling for.

1. Chocolate Fantasia


Travelers don’t settle for a just a box of chocolates; they sample dozens of decadent desserts during this event. It’s a city tour with along a road paved in chocolate, with many Silver City Arts & Cultural District galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops flinging open their doors for tastings from local chefs and master chocolatiers. What’s one more cupcake or piece of chocolate bark when the money raised benefits children’s education programs?

2. Continental Divide Trail Fest


The Continental Divide Trail passes near Silver City on its path from Canada to Mexico. This annual festival features seminars to teach both hikers and the general public about the CDT. Thru-hikers and community members also gather on trails for group hikes—and to hear more about this gem just outside the town’s backdoor.

The annual Tour of the Gila draws cyclists from around the world. Silver City Arts & Cultural District

3. Tour of the Gila


Olympians, world champions, and up-and-comers have all competed at this annual cycling race. Tour of the Gila is one of North America’s premier bike races—and one of the stops on USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour. It pits competitors against a five-stage race around the terrain of Silver City, featuring 10,000 feet of climbs through challenging mountainous terrain and an in-town, high-speed time trial. In October, the Gila Monster Gran Fondo follows one leg of the Tour of the Gila—the "Gila Monster" road race—through a stunning route.

4. Silver City Blues Festival


Silver City has an amazing music scene, with local talents playing at local venues throughout the year. But for Memorial Day weekend, locals and travelers pull up their chairs for three days of jazz, blues, and funk at Gough Park. It’s hard to resist dancing on the lawn as national headline acts take the stage of the gazebo. It’s one of the best blues gatherings in the Southwest—and as an added bonus, the Silver City Blue Festival is free to attend.

5. Wild Wild West Pro Rodeo


Top-ranking cowboys and cowgirls in the PRCA Rodeo series saddle up in Silver City for a full schedule of bull riding, barrel racing, roping, and more at the Wild Wild West Pro Rodeo. The event at Horseman’s Park is known for having the wildest bulls and broncos—and a bit mellower set of sheep for kids’ mutton busting events.

There are even workshops for kids at CLAY Fest. Silver City Arts & Cultural District

6. Silver City CLAY Festival


A perennial destination for clay arts, Silver City overflows with them during this annual festival for artists, entrepreneurs, and budding makers. The Silver City Arts & Cultural District teems with artisan stands, featuring tables full of colorful ceramic bowls, vases, and sculpture. Workshops welcome first-timers and volunteers are happy to help you get your hands dirty to throw a pot or paint a tile.

7. Southwest Print Fiesta


Anchored by local artists like Carmen Ruiz, Power & Light Press, and art students from Western New Mexico University, the Southwest Print Fiesta celebrates all things printed. The festival includes workshops, artist demonstrations, and, of course, a marketplace to bring home everything from printed totes to notecards.

8. Gila River Festival


Organized by the Gila Conservation Coalition, this weekend event explores every aspect of the Gila River and its watershed. The river is one of the region’s defining landscape features and one of its biggest recreational draws. There’s much to discover about the scenic river during this event, including bountiful Native foods, local ecology, and natural medicines. The schedule includes fascinating presentations, as well as river outings, nature walks, storytelling sessions, cooking classes, and foraging hikes.

9. Fort Bayard Days


This 1866 military installation comes to life each fall for historical re-enactments, plays, walking tours, and talks about Fort Bayard’s storied past. Learn about African-American Buffalo Soldiers’ efforts to protect settlers from attacks during the 19th century, and how the fort was later turned into a tuberculosis sanitarium and a veterans’ hospital.

10. Southwest Festival of the Written Word


Top regional authors and poets offer readings, talks, and workshops that delve into all aspects of writing. Both established writers and first-timers often extend their stays beyond the festivalofferings to take in the city’s inspiring creative surrounds and write in one of its many downtown coffee shops.

Art is a very important part of the Southwestern Native American culture. Silver City Arts & Cultural District

11. Red Dot Art Fest & Studio Tours


This regional art tour guides you through the many galleries and artists’ studios in Silver City and around Grant County. Follow the red-dot stops on the map to explore the area’s diverse arts—from multi-media installations to DIY maker spaces. The trail includes two dozen artists’ studios and galleries, along with the visits to the Silver City Museum.

12. Victorian Christmas


For more than 30 years, the Silver City Museum has celebrated the holidays with Victorian Christmas. Although not a typical Southwest building style, the restored 1881 Mansard/Italianate house in which the museum is housed exudes old-timey Victorian style. The celebrations include live music, cookies, hands-on activities, and a holiday visit from the one and only Santa Claus.

While these are some of the most popular events going on in Silver City, check out the events calendar for even more ideas when planning your next trip!

Originally written by RootsRated for New Mexico.