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!

–RES

Visions of Sugarplums and Scents of Gingerbread

The Sun Valley Village takes shape in gingerbread

The Sun Valley Village takes shape in gingerbread

If you have a child, or if you ever were a child, then you won’t want to miss this. On Saturday, December 1, Sun Valley will unveil a Gingerbread Village that is an (almost) exact to-scale interpretation of the Sun Valley Village and beyond. Frosted eaves decorate the windows of the Ram Restaurant, the Toy Store and Brass Ranch. The Lodge pools are cerulean blue pools of melted Jolly Ranchers. The Snowball Express circles the buildings, sending up powdery snow in its wake. Everything Sun Valley will be represented, from the iconic red barn to Bald and Dollar Mountains, even the Sinclair station, in wonderful, whimsical, and delicious-smelling miniature.

Thayne moves mountains, and holiday confections

Thayne moves mountains, and holiday confections

Thayne Hendricks and his team (don’t call them elves) are busy, busy, busy turning what once was the Boiler Room into this holiday wonderland. An enormous 20 by 30-foot platform dominates the sparkling clean room, devoid of any vestiges of its nightclub history. Instead, buildings constructed from foam core, gingerbread and icing are finding their spot on the platform as the village quickly takes shape, from the center out.

“We start from the middle and position the buildings and all the landscaping, working out toward the edges,” Thayne explained as he prepared to journey to the center of the table to do just that.

The Lodge and Lodge Pool are ready for placement

The Lodge and Lodge Pool are ready for placement

The entire scene has been painstakingly mapped out, grid by grid. Construction is reminiscent of the childhood universes most of us built with houses, animals, castles or forts but on a much bigger scale. Thayne, a contractor by trade, helped construct in foam core, replicas of all the structures being featured. They are then sent to local baker extraordinaire, Mary Jones of the Chocolate Moose, who bakes and molds all the wonderful gingerbread, icing and piping. Back the houses come to Thayne who places them in their proper footing for the season and surrounds them with spruce trees, walkways and lampposts creating a wondrous scene.

The effect, for me, creates a desire to shrink back down to the size of a seven-year-old, to peer through the windows, look around corners and see the hundreds of exacting details at exactly eye level.  From the vantage point of a child, the magic is sure to be, well, magical.

The Gingerbread Village is one of many reasons to come to Sun Valley on Saturday, and to bring the entire family. The ribbon cutting officially opening the exhibit is set for 1 p.m. and will be followed immediately by the Holiday Window Stroll Scavenger Hunt.  The store windows in Sun Valley have been transformed into an interactive 3-D art gallery, featuring scenes of the holidays around the world. (For more on the windows, I refer you back to the Valley Sun entry dated November 16). Participants in the Scavenger Hunt will receive game cards at Village retail shops, the Recreation Center, the front desk at the Inn and the Lodge and the Boiler Room Deck and the hunt is on!  Ten lucky grand prize winners will be announced at 4 p.m. when game cards are turned in at the Boiler Room.

The windows at the Sun Valley Signature and Gift Store are transformed

One of the eye-popping windows in the Village this season

And to really kick holiday spirit into high gear, a special visit by the big man himself, Santa Claus, is planned for 3 p.m. Follow his hearty ho, ho, ho’s to the deck at Bald Mountain Pizza. There will be wagon rides around the Village and some delicious seasonal treats, too.

All of this Winter Wonderland festivity is absolutely free and is the perfect prelude to the holidays. Sun Valley will be alight in the weeks to come, literally and figuratively, with the Tree Lighting Celebration, Gingerbread Decorating, the 5th Annual Classical Christmas Concert, carolers, the reopening of the newly renovated Konditorei Restaurant, all culminating in the Christmas Eve Celebration on the Sun Valley Terrace.

On Saturday, follow the sweet smell of gingerbread and the sweet smiles on children’s faces to the Boiler Room and let the season begin!

–RES

Follow the signs to the fun

Follow the signs to the fun