LOS ALAMOS, NM — The healthiest county in the country – Los Alamos, New Mexico – is offering a hearty dose of holiday spirit with Winterfest 2012, taking place from Friday, Dec. 7 through Sunday, Dec. 9.

Winterfest commences on Dec. 7 with the 19th annual Los Alamos Crèche Show, which is held annually on the first weekend of December. “Crèches,” or nativity scenes featuring the Christ child, are prominently displayed by Los Alamos residents for all to see. Because Los Alamos’ residents come from all over the world, there is always a myriad of beautiful crèches on display. The show on Dec. 7 takes place from 4 to 8 p.m.; and again on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints/White Rock Ward located at 366 Grand Canyon Dr. in Los Alamos. Please bring crèches early on Friday morning and pick up again after the Saturday show. Free entry includes refreshments, live music, and an area for children to play.

Then at 7 p.m. that evening, Dance Arts Los Alamos will help kick off Winterfest with a special performance of “Hansel and Gretel” – a full length ballet that continues on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9.  Visit danceartlosalamos.org for times and other details or call 505-672-9462. The performance takes place at Duane Smith Auditorium.

Now through Jan. 5, 2013, some of the most unusual, one of a kind works of art ranging from jewelry to photography, will be on sale in time for holiday gift giving during the Affordable Arts show. As the name implies, handmade works of art from more than 130 Northern New Mexico artists are affordably priced starting at $1, with no piece of art priced higher than $250. The Affordable Arts show is hosting a holiday open house on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with complimentary cider and cookies, which preempts the holiday light parade. Fuller Lodge Art Center is located at 2132 Central Ave. in Los Alamos. The event is free. For more information, visit fullerlodgeartcenter.com or call 505-662-1635.

Burn off calories from the many holiday treats while helping local youth at the Holiday Half Marathon and Festive 5K on Dec. 8. Both the half marathon and 5K run/walk begin at 9 a.m., with check in at 8 a.m. Registration is $60 for the half marathon before Dec. 1, or $70 after Dec. 1; and $30 for the 5K before Dec. 1, or $40 after Dec. 1. Youth 16 years and younger are only $10 for the 5K or $20 for the half marathon. Registration is available online at laymca.org or on active.com. Registration on active.com closes on Dec. 5. The first 100 participants will receive a stocking cap. Proceeds from the event directly benefit the Los Alamos YMCA’s efforts to help kids participate in youth sports. Call or email Jeremy Smith for details at 505-662-3100 or jsmith@laymca.org.

The historic Fuller Lodge will host a free open house, complete with live dancing and choral performances; complimentary posole, cookies and punch. Christmas wreaths and items from the Historical Museum will be on sale. The free event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Contact Marlane at 505-663-0477 for more information.

Get a rock solid start on holiday gift giving for the person who has everything at the annual Earth Treasure Show from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 8, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 9. The free show features a silent auction; gems and minerals; stone jewelry for sale; crafts; fossils; mineral ID booth; wheel of fortune and much more for the whole family to enjoy. The show is sponsored by the Los Alamos Geological Society. The Earth Treasure Show will be held at the Masonic Temple located on Canyon Rd. and 15th St. in Los Alamos. Contact Paul Bradley at ppbradpp@aol.com for details.

Kids can have a heart-to-heart with Santa and share their Christmas wish lists during the “Kids Talk with Santa” event located at CB Fox in Los Alamos. The free event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Whether they’re crafty or “craftsy,” kids will have a great time making free holiday decorations at Mesa Public Library’s “Holiday Crafts for Kids” event, from noon to 2 p.m.  Call the library at 505-662-8240 for more information.

The warm glow of the holidays is sure to illuminate the faces of the many who attend the annual Winter Fest Light Parade on Central Avenue, beginning at 6 p.m. on Dec. 8. Lighted floats will be decorated around this year’s theme, “Fairytales and Fantasies.” The annual lighting of the tree at Ashley Pond follows the parade. For more information on the free event, contact Suzette Fox at 505-661-4844.

From seeing holiday lights to hearing holiday music, the Los Alamos Community Winds group will present a Holiday Prism Concert with special guest, Morrie Pongratz, who will narrate the musical, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Guests will also be serenaded by the sounds of the String Theory; Clarinet Choir; Brass Quartet; Guitar Duo; and Flute Duo. The event immediately follows the parade at 7 p.m. and is free. For details, contact Los Alamos Community Winds at info@lacw.org. The event will be held at the White Rock Baptist Church located at 80 State Road 4 in Los Alamos.

The Central Park Square parking area, in the center of Los Alamos, will also become the center of holiday shopping as vendors sell their handmade crafts and art at the Christkindle Market from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Finally, on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 5 to 7 p.m., luminarias and holidays lights set the tone for a winter wonderland during the annual North Pole Workshop and Luminaria Walk at the Los Alamos Posse Lodge and North Mesa Stables. Take professional digital photographs with Santa and his elves, and enjoy warm drinks, light refreshments, and a complimentary holiday craft. The event is free; however, Santa photos are $5 each. Dress warmly and bring comfortable walking shoes or boots. The Posse Lodge is located at 650 North Mesa in Los Alamos.

Winterfest is sponsored by Los Alamos Mainstreet, and in part, by Compa Industries and Los Alamos National Bank.

While visiting Los Alamos, the neighboring Valles Caldera National Preserve is offering cross country skiing and snowshoeing from 9 a.m .to 4:30 p.m. with easy access to over 5,000 acres of the Valle Grande. No reservations are required. Cost is $10 per adult for a day pass or $8 per youth (5-15 years old). Sleigh/wagon rides are also available beginning Dec. 21, consisting of a horse drawn carriage ride through the historical headquarters of the Valle Grande. Please dress in winter gear, as temperatures are cold. For more information on these any other activities at the Preserve, visit vallescaldera.gov or call 866-382-5537.

The Hampton Inn in Los Alamos is offering a “visitor weekend special,” through Dec. 15,  which reduces the Saturday rate in half. For details, call the hotel at 505-672-3838 and mention the special rate, or book online by visiting visit.losalamos.com/deals-offers.htm.

For more information on events, lodging, or other questions about Los Alamos, visit losalamosnm.us.