The Jolly Holiday Season Begins

Santa listened earnestly to many children's wishes during the Winter Wonderland Festival

Santa listened earnestly to many children's wishes during the Winter Wonderland Festival

Things were jolly, indeed, this weekend in Sun Valley. Families flocked to the Village to enjoy the second annual Winter Wonderland Festival. Children raced around with scavenger hunt cards looking for clues, boarded a colorful train for a ride, carefully (or not) decorated gingerbread cookies with gobs of frosting and whispered in Santa’s ear.

Train rides around the Sun Valley Village were popular among the younger set

Train rides around the Sun Valley Village were popular among the younger set

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded the group gathered outside the Boiler Room and Sun Valley provided delicious food and warm drinks to keep the merriment going. By all accounts, it was a lovely, festive way to spend the afternoon.

Peter and Chloe enjoyed gingerbread man decorating in the Boiler Room

Peter and Chloe enjoyed gingerbread man decorating in the Boiler Room

Then, on Sunday, the elegant Lodge Dining Room opened for its bountiful champagne brunch. Newly configured this year, the Brunch offered its signature abundance of fresh, delicious food to suit everyone’s palate at numerous stations. From bowls of crab legs and shrimp, to made-to-order omelets and crepes; from Eggs Benedict to salads and fruit, it was hard to maintain discipline at this all-you-can-eat occasion! And that doesn’t even begin to cover the dessert table and the flowing champagne! Live guitar music offered a soothing soundtrack beneath lively conversations. This special meal will be offered on Sundays all season long and is something everyone who visits Sun Valley should experience.

Dessert, glorious dessert!

At champagne brunch, it's dessert, glorious dessert!

A crepe station is always popular at brunch

The crepe station is always a popular option

On the mountains, Baldy and Dollar hosted happy skiers and boarders all weekend long. Dollar is now open daily for the season, providing top-to-bottom runs as well as many fun and challenging terrain features. On Baldy, runs on Seattle Ridge also opened on Saturday. Skiing and boarding are now available on all over the vast mountain, offering great possibilities for a full day on the snow. Roundhouse Restaurant, Seattle Ridge Lodge, Warm Springs Lodge, River Run Lodge and Lookout are all providing tasty treats of all varieties to keep your energy high for just one more run.

Baldy's Seattle Ridge is open for the season!

Baldy's Seattle Ridge is open for the season!

But the fun is only beginning. A special breakfast with Santa takes place on December 21 and 22 at the Lodge Dining Room. Also on the 21st, be sure to come to the Sun Valley Village at 5 p.m. for the Tree Lighting Ceremony outside the Inn. Carolers, Santa and ice carving demonstrations will ring in the season.

There is nothing like Christmas Eve in Sun Valley with the Nutcracker on Ice, Torchlight Parade and fireworks

There is nothing like Christmas Eve in Sun Valley with the Nutcracker on Ice, Torchlight Parade and fireworks

On December 22, be sure not to miss the sixth annual Classic Christmas Concert at the Sun Valley Opera House. The tradition is enriched this year with several popular local acts including the Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus and special guest Joe Fos. Carolers and dancers from the Footlight Dance Centre will also perform. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 at the Sun Valley Recreation Center or online.

Everything leads up to Christmas Eve festivities, including the popular Nutcracker on Ice at the outdoor rink, followed by Sun Valley’s traditional torchlight parade and fireworks.

Please join us to celebrate the happiest of holidays!


LIFT LINE: On-Mountain Lodges & Après Ski Options

Guest blogger Alec Barfield.

Why leave the mountain after skiing? Sun Valley has all kinds of aprs options, from the Warm Springs base to Lookout at the top of Baldy. Take an inside peek into these local drinking holes.


At Lookout Lodge. Getting ready to bomb to the bottom!!

 LOOKOUT LODGE (9 am – 3:30 pm):

With its low beams, leather booths and etched glass, Lookout Restaurant is truly a throwback. Unlike the more Tyrolean Roundhouse or the stately River Run base lodge, Lookout has a neighborly vibe, establishing it as the "other" classic spot for regulars to lunch or aprs on the mountain. Need a quiet corner to nurse a tall boy and rest those legs? Or maybe the powder is fresh and speed the priority? Either way Lookout has you covered: food and beer are served quickly and there are rarely crowds. Located at the top of Baldy, it is Sun Valley’s peaceful aprs-ski perch.

Crowd: Anyone looking to avoid the rush of other lodges. Regulars include ski patrol, lifties and locals in the know. Lovers of elegant washrooms: Lookout will meet your marble standards.


Specials: Beer pairing is simple: order anything to pair with the unbeatable fish tacos. The purest aprs meal, however, is the Kobe beef slider (think sake-infused beef).

Noteworthy: Come mid-March, Lookout sets up an outdoor grill, complete with sunshine and beer coolers. Remember that peaceful December pilsner in the corner? Last year’s crowds grew into the hundreds…. Let’s aprs, bro!


RIVER RUN BASE LODGE  (8 am – 6 pm)

Ahhhh, it’s the last ski run of the day–you are schusshing down Baldy with the beautiful River Run Lodge in sight. You can almost hear the wine corks popping and beer bottles clanking. River Run Lodge has a happening aprs vibe with live music offered on most weekends and holidays and a fabulous outdoor fire pit sitting area to meet new friends or catch up with old chums.

Crowd: Happy people of all ages, from locals to visitors, who just went skiing or boarding at America’s original destination resort!

Specials: Sipping tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the base of Baldy is one of life’s finer moments for some SVM staffers and fans.

Specials: The aprs scene is a classic mix of local and visitors (season lockers are upstairs) and many a special event has been staged at the River Run Lodge. Don’t miss the the afternoon spring scene or fire pit outside beside the gondola.

Noteworthy: Home to the original chairlift on Baldy and, as old-timers will tell you, to a single chairlift until the 1960s, River Run is now serviced by an 1,800-passengers-per-hour gondola which was the largest Doppelmayr project in North America when built in 2009.


SEATTLE RIDGE LODGE  (9:30 am – 2:30 pm)

A quintessential mountain retreat, the Seattle Ridge lodge is massive, impeccably detailed and downright warm. What’s incredible about Seattle Ridge is that it has no secrets: sunshine and gourmet meals play on repeat. The fireplaces are always roaring, heating nearby boots and gloves, and the views only change with the seasons. Enjoy early aprs with friends (the lodge closes at 2:30) while gazing out on Hailey, Bellevue, the Pioneer Mountains and the surrounding lower valleys.

Crowd: Skiers, boarders and occasionally that guy who mono-skis. Literally the whole family. According to many, Seattle Ridge is "the place to be seen." If there’s a celebrity on the mountain, he or she will likely stop by this Sun Valley landmark for lunch at some point.

Specials:  Do yourself a huge favor and try the mouth-watering prime rib. Don’t forget the pitcher of beer!

Noteworthy: Behind the beautiful log construction of Seattle Ridge were teams of helicopters that flew up and down the mountain delivering giant timber.


The SVM Staff enjoying apres at Averell's

AVERELL’S BAR – ROUNDHOUSE  (11 am – 4 pm, last call 4:30 pm):

Quite possibly the quintessential spot for aprs skiing in Sun Valley, Averell’s Bar is located halfway up Bald Mountain on the lower level of the historic Roundhouse Lodge. The octagonal building is filled with loving reminders of Sun Valley’s glory days and Averell’s (named after Sun Valley’s founder, Averell Harriman) hosts the Valley’s most majestic views of the Wood River Valley and Pioneer Mountains. Originally opened in 1940 along with Baldy’s first chairlift, Averell’s reopened in 2010 and not many people even knew the room existed after it had spent nearly a decade as a storage locker wasting those breathtaking views.

Crowd: Frequented by movie stars, housewives, Olympians, regular Joes, tourists and the un-or underemployed, Averell’s will surely leave an imprint as it offers a stroll down memory lane.

Specials: The cheese fondue for two (or more) is tough to top and they offer a solid beer and wine selection. SVM staff is known for making major editorial decisions while enjoying beer and fondue at Averell’s.

Noteworthy: Averell’s announces last call to ski down by ringing the bell at 4:30 pm. The last gondola back down departs at 4:45 pm. Dinner at 7,700 feet is a special event (open Thursday-Sunday from 6 – 9 pm), reservations required, call 208.622.2800.


WARM SPRINGS LODGE  (8 am – 4 pm):

The bar is small, but the view is huge. The drinks are cute ("Hot Apple Pie"), but they pack a punch. The lodge at Warm Springs does big and little things, and it does them all well. The lodge itself is magnificent, the perfect place to end a long day on the mountain. The famous cookie bell, almost unseen, nonetheless rings loudly enough to produce an even noisier scuttling of tiny boots to the kitchen. Find a seat facing the vaulted windows, grab a pint of the Stone IPA, and wait for the youngsters to return with Sun Valley’s greatest aprs snack.

Crowd: Residents of the Edelweiss and groups of all sizes parked at Warm Springs. Weary parents. A few years ago I also spotted Tim Allen on the patio.

Specials: The creative and very seasonal "Warm Ups" menu features drinks such as the "B-52" (coffee liqueur, Irish cream and orange cognac) and the "Nutty Irishman" (hazelnut liqueur, Irish cream and vanilla flavored vodka). Small cups of bar pretzels are on the house.

Noteworthy:  The aprs crowd at Warm Springs follows the sun, meaning the scene heats up, literally and figuratively, after the holidays. By President’s Weekend, Warm Springs definitely secures the end-of-day "scene." Weather permitting, bands will play regularly outside. Nothing goes better with chocolate chip cookies than live music.


>> Check the Sun Valley website all season for more information on events/specials at Lookout, Seattle Ridge, Warm Springs and the mountain’s other lodges!