New Mexico is one of the only places in the world where you can find authentic displays and celebrations of Native American culture, and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) is a brilliant representation of this rich heritage. Established in 1976, the IPCC has quickly set itself apart as a must-visit destination in Albuquerque. While the center is home to a vast collection of historical artifacts and contemporary artwork created by Native Americans, the interactive exhibits and events are what truly set it apart.
A day spent at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a memorable experience, but there are a number of annual events, performances, and exhibitions that are not to be missed.
1. American Indian Week
*Annually in April *
American Indian Week is the biggest event of the year at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center—a celebration of Native American art, culture, and cuisine in all forms. Expect traditional dances several times a day, workshops led by Native American art experts each afternoon, and authentic pieces of artwork for sale. On the second weekend, the courtyard transforms into a bustling marketplace overflowing with pottery, jewelry, paintings, and more!
2. The Summer Solstice Blues Festival
*Annually near the summer solstice *
The arrival of summer is certainly occasion enough to celebrate, and all ages are welcome to join in the fun at the annual Summer Solstice Blues Festival. Featuring both local and regional artists, get there early to watch a traditional dance and then spend the rest of the night tearing up the dance floor yourself! As an added bonus, the Shumakolowa Native Arts store and the museum galleries will be open late that night.
3. Traditional Native Dances
*Every Saturday and Sunday, Times Vary Depending on Season *
Since time immemorial, Native American people have celebrated harvests, the changing of seasons, and more through dances—many of which are a form of prayer. There are dances for every occasion, and they are a sight to behold. Luckily, you can see them for yourself at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the only venue in the country that hosts traditional Native dances on a weekly basis. The dances take place every Saturday and Sunday year-round and feature dance groups from all 19 of New Mexico’s Pueblo tribes, as well as Plains-style, Hopi, Apache, and Navajo dancers.
4. The Annual Indigenous Peoples Celebration
*Annually on the second Monday of October *
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center throws a grand festival each year to reclaim the day known as Columbus Day. The day begins with a morning prayer and is followed by live art demonstrations, vendors, traditional Native dances, and an overall celebration of indigenous people and their ancestors.
5. Balloon Fiesta Week at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Annually at the beginning of October
The Balloon Fiesta is New Mexico’s most anticipated event every year, drawing in thousands of visitors from all over the world. During this week, the Albuquerque skies explode in color as hundreds of hot air balloons take flight. The festivities take place at Balloon Fiesta Park, but the spectacle can be witnessed from all over town. The IPCC is no exception and hosts hour-long traditional dances four times a day every day during the festival. In addition, the courtyard is lined with authentic artwork and jewelry, and the Pueblo Harvest Cafe offers specials for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
6. The Annual Pueblo Film Fest
*Annually in November *
Every year the IPCC presents the Pueblo Film Fest, the only festival in the country devoted to the work of Pueblo filmmakers and actors to give community members a platform to showcase what is happening in their communities with the outside world from their own perspectives, as well as films that showcase the Pueblo experience. The three-day event includes screenings, presentations, and discussions with filmmakers, and each year is more surprising than the last.
7. Stories by the Fireside
*Annually during the holiday season *
As anyone who has ever been on a camping trip knows, there’s nothing quite as magical as sharing stories over a crackling campfire. The IPCC has harnessed that magic into this wonderful family-friendly holiday event. Kids gather in a cozy circle around the fire and listen to a Pueblo tale, and then the education team will guide them in creating a special craft related to the story. (Add to the experience with hot chocolate from the Pueblo Harvest Cafe!) If you visit during the holidays, be sure to check out the annual Pueblo Gingerbread House Contest, too.
8. New Year’s Eve at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Annually on December 31
Ring in the New Year at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center with a special dinner at the Pueblo Harvest Cafe. The award-winning culinary team creates a one-night-only multi-course menu that will amaze your eyes as well as your taste buds, allowing you to usher in the new year with the utmost contentment.
9. Native American Student Art Show
Annually from November until January
The IPCC believes that the future of the Native American culture lies within its children, so every year there is an art exhibit showcasing the creativity of young ones from the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Each year has a theme, and children from kindergarten through high school are encouraged to submit their artwork.
10. Cooking Classes
Throughout the year
Experience the flavor of the Southwest with a cooking class at the IPCC and work with a local expert to create a variety of traditional favorites, from salsa to frybread. Impress your loved ones by recreating the dish at home!
11. Artist Workshops
Throughout the year
Art is a huge part of Native American culture, and the methods behind it are as rich and unique as the artwork itself. Learn how these beautiful pieces inspired by natural surroundings are created at an artist workshop, where you can witness everything from weaving techniques to clay shaping.
12. Artists Circle Gallery Openings
*Throughout the year *
Part of what makes the IPCC so special is its vast collection of contemporary and traditional artwork. The IPCC is proud to represent Native artists from all over the Southwest, so when a new exhibit opens, it is a big deal. The museum staff is on hand to explain the work behind the exhibit, which gives new meaning to what you’re seeing.
The IPCC hosts a ton of events throughout the year, so be sure to check the event calendarwhen planning your trip.
Originally written by RootsRated for New Mexico.