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

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

‘Tis the season to get out that red pen and mark your calendar so as not to miss any of the wonderful events that will make holidays in Sun Valley the merriest yet! From twinkling lights, to fabulous food; from fun for the family to sensational shopping – it’s all right here.

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays in Sun Valley

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays in Sun Valley

Here are some highlights for your December plans:

Our season kicks off in earnest on December 14 with a Winter Wonderland Stroll in the Sun Valley Village. This special afternoon includes photos with Santa at the Boiler Room deck from 1 to 3 p.m., a gingerbread man decorating workshop at 2 p.m., delicious food cart offerings including cider, hot cocoa, beignets and treats, craft demonstrations and a scavenger hunt and Window Stroll prizes. Stop into a la mode for gourmet hot chocolate or the Konditorei for a savory lunch or treat. It is a celebration for all ages.

Pop into a la mode and warm up with a special holiday hot chocolate

Pop into a la mode and warm up with a special holiday hot chocolate

The Sun Valley tree will sparkle to life on December 21 in front of the Inn. This annual tradition officially begins at 5 p.m. Shortly thereafter, the storied Sun Valley Carolers will entertain with their wonderful multi-part harmony renditions of Christmas classics and Sun Valley General Manager, Tim Silva, will then count down and light the tree. The remainder of the evening includes caroling, Santa arriving by sleigh at the Inn, ice carving demonstrations, food and warm drinks and a vintage Christmas sweater party for the grown ups at the Duchin Room beginning at 6 p.m.

On December 22, music takes center stage when the 6th annual Classic Christmas Concert comes to the Opera House at 7 p.m. The Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus will bring its signature blend of gospel and traditional music and will be joined by a live trio and the Sun Valley Carolers.

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and fireworks are among Sun Valley's most treasured holiday traditions

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and fireworks are among Sun Valley's most treasured holiday traditions

The culmination of all the pre-Christmas festivity leads to Christmas Eve, Sun Valley style. Don’t miss the tradition of the Christmas Eve Nutcracker on Ice and Torch Light Parade. At 4 p.m. on the 24th, complimentary hot cocoa and cookies are served on the Lodge patio. The Carolers welcome what is always a huge audience to the show at 5:30 p.m., with the special Nutcracker production, featuring professional and local young skaters, gliding into action at 5:40 p.m. Following the show around 6 p.m., look past the rink to Dollar Mountain where members of the Sun Valley SnowSports instructors and special guests will ski down the slopes holding lit torches – creating a mesmerizing serpentine of light into the dark night. Fireworks follow and if that isn’t enough, Santa is scheduled to arrive for a special appearance.

 

The torchlight parade is truly magical (photo courtesy Charlie Webster)

The torchlight parade is truly magical (photo courtesy Charlie Webster)

Shopping at the Sun Valley Village specialty shops, as well as at the base of River Run, will inspire you to polish off those Christmas lists. Quality defines the merchandise available at Brass Ranch, Panache, Pete Lane’s, Silver Creek Outfitters, the Toy Store, Towne & Parke Jewelers and the Sun Valley Signature Shops, and no matter if your tastes run from classical to whimsical, there is truly something for everyone.

The tastes, smells and flavors of holiday meals also help define the season. Sun Valley’s signature restaurants will be serving fare that invites you to linger, to continue the conversation, to order just one more course or another glass of fine wine.

Tell Santa how good you've been this year at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room

Tell Santa how good you've been this year at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room

Special to the season is the reopening of the elegant Lodge Dining Room for a Champagne Brunch every Sunday, December 15 through March 30. On December 21 and 22, be sure to come to the bountiful breakfast for a special chance to see Santa Claus before he begins his around-the-world journey. Please call Restaurant Reservations 208-622-2800 to reserve a seat with Santa.

Historic Roundhouse perched two-thirds up Bald Mountain opens for the season for lunch daily on December 12 and for dinner during the season on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. A meal there is truly magical! Reservations for dinner are accepted at 208-622-2012.

The Sun Valley sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin is a must-do holiday activity

The Sun Valley sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin is a must-do holiday activity

No trip to Sun Valley is complete without a sleigh ride under the stars to historic Trail Creek Cabin for a warm, inviting and plentiful meal before a roaring fire. Book your sleigh ride and dinner reservations through the Recreation Center at 208-622-2135.

Check back to this blog for updates and more information on all the flavorful, fun options for holiday food as well as all the holiday hoopla.

Holidays in Sun Valley are exactly what they are supposed to be – genuine, memorable, colorful, filled with traditional. Be sure not to miss a minute!

–RES

Silent Night, Torchlit Night

As the sun set on Christmas Eve, dozens gathered on Dollar for the Torchlight Parade

As the sun set Christmas Eve, only the silhouettes of dozens of Snowsports instructors were visible atop Dollar

Just after 5:30 on Christmas Eve, I stood atop Dollar Mountain, watching the lights from the Sun Valley Resort burn brighter by the minute. The winter sun retreated, leaving a fat, hay-colored moon in its stead. Behind me, in front of me, and on every side, congregated dozens of Snowsports instructors. For the most part, conversations were subdued as friends greeted friends and took a moment to survey the scene below, unanimously proclaiming it one of the prettiest Christmas Eve nights in recent memory. As this ever-multiplying group waited for the Torchlight Parade to begin, the quietude was interrupted sporadically by an impromptu Christmas carol or a shout of excitement.

Skis lined up, ready to go

Instructors' skis were lined up and ready to go at dusk

I took it all in from the front of a line that stretched, I am guessing, a few hundred people back. Beside me, stood long-time ski instructor Hans Thum, smiling his trademark kind smile. He promised that all would be fine – he had his eye on me. Coming from a legend who has skied the Sun Valley Torchlight Parade 44 times, I felt reassured and grateful.

Because truth be told, I had been nervous all day about the endeavor. Although I have watched this dazzling tradition many times, I always watched from a distance. I hadn’t an inkling of the level of expertise required to participate — something I failed to consider when I asked (begged?) to ski. But standing there, as the temperature dropped and it grew darker and darker, I worried. My worst fear, as a non-Snowsports instructor (not even close) was that I might ruin it for everyone. I fretted about not being able to see where I was going. I worried that I would catch my coat on fire. Most of all, I dreaded an ignominious tumble down Old Dollar that would disrupt the perfect slalom of the parade route and take out the skiers and snowboarders behind me. Or what if I missed a turn and sailed off course, torches illuminating my humiliation?

The gracious and charming Hans Thum, my guide for the night

The charming and gracious Hans Thum led me through parade prep and then down the hill

But once the end of the wildly popular Nutcracker on Ice was announced via radio, it was go-time. Positioned safely between two Austrians, both of outstanding skiing pedigree, the call came to light the torches. Plastic caps off, a torch firmly in each hand, we lit the overgrown matchsticks by striking them end-to-end. Suddenly, the black surroundings glowed red and a battle cry went up among the crowd.

Up close and personal with the makeshift torches

Up close and personal with the makeshift torches

“Stay right behind me!” Hans reminded as we pointed our skis down the slope and held the torches away from our bodies. As the line began to snake down Dollar, skiing became hypnotic. Ahead of me, I focused on the tails of Hans’ skis, working to stay in his perfect tracks. The rest of the torches blurred ahead of me and out of the corners of my eyes. The snow on Dollar was textbook-perfect soft corduroy that kicked tiny plumes of powder into the flames. Down we went, effortlessly. After a turn or two, I couldn’t remember what I had been nervous about.

About three-quarters of the way to bottom, the first fireworks exploded overhead and everyone in that long, long series of s-turns began to cheer. Instructors ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, from “new hires” to seasoned pros, snowboarders and skiers alike, guests like me — held our torches high, all proud members of the Sun Valley family beneath that sparkling Idaho sky.

The view from the top of Old Bowl

Photographer Charlie Webster captured the view from the top of Old Bowl on Monday night

As the slope flattened and I approached the crowd standing outside Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, the only thought in my head was, “I want to do that again.” As someone who is rarely at a loss for words, I could find none appropriate as I stood in my skis, beneath the firework finale. Magical is too trite. Inspiring isn’t quite right. I think I will go with transcendent and leave it at that.

–RES

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night (courtesy Charlie Webster)

Christmas Eve Celebration “Nutcracker On Ice”

Christmas Eve Celebration “Nutcracker On Ice”

 

 

 

Our annual Christmas Eve Celebration on the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace starts at 5pm on Monday, December 24.
Get into the Christmas spirit with the Sun Valley Carolers, a free performance of “Nutcracker on Ice” featuring talented local ice-skaters, the Torchlight Parade & Fireworks, Santa Claus, free hot chocolate & cookies. Free ice skating after the performance!

SKIING HERITAGE: Sun Valley Torchlight Parade

A Sun Valley Tradition

By Alec Barfield

Dollar and Baldy Mountain celebrate the season with Fireworks and a Torchlight Parade

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade on Dollar Mountain is one of Sun Valley’s most venerable traditions, dating back further than the memory of any living resident. More than merry exercise, the parade truly holds symbolic significance in the community–especially on this Anniversary year. Seventy-five years ago this Christmas season, the Sun Valley Lodge opened its doors to the world and our celebrated resort was born. By now we all know the "creation story" of how Averell Harriman and Count Felix Schaffgotsch, after combing the West, hand-picked Ketchum to be America’s premier ski resort, the next St. Moritz. With such a compelling narrative and host of characters – the railroad, the Count, the celebrities from Hollywood’s golden age – it is no wonder this town loves its heritage.

 

Tomorrow night that history will come to life in the form of lights and fireworks. The parade itself speaks to Sun Valley’s Swiss and Austrian predecessors, who pioneered the mesmerizing trails of fire that snake down the mountain. The location, however, alludes to the resort’s own uniqueness, as Dollar was home to one of the first two chairlifts in the entire world (the other being on nearby Proctor Mountain). While the East was using rope tows and Europe was still relying on funiculars and tramways, Sun Valley began moving skiers like hanging bananas on the novel Dollar Mountain "chairlift." The idea was a momentous innovation that would shape the skiing world forever, and Sun Valley was at the heart of it.

Yet the torchlight parade is a unique and festive Sun Valley time capsule, not only for its connection to this area’s earliest beginnings, but because its participants have been doing it for years. Historically conducted by the Sun Valley Snowsports School, the parade is a nostalgic event, providing an opportunity for friends and family to remember those torch bearers who are no longer with us as they watch the snaking line of past instructors, sweeping right and left, and sharing in the tradition once again. According to ski school director, Allan Patzer, the torchlight has become a truly spiritual event and an honor for present instructors. Not simply a performance, it is an opportunity for remembrance, in more ways than one, of everyone and everything that has contributed to the foundation of this incredible community.

Tomorrow night, after the Nutcracker On Ice Show, look towards Dollar. Rising nearly 630 vertical feet from the valley floor and bereft of trees, the mountain is the ideal host for the event, which will be followed, as always, by a show of fireworks. If you’ve never watched the parade before, this is your opportunity to take part in an elegantly poignant Sun Valley tradition. If you are a regular spectator, one familiar with that glowing stream of Christmas lights, then you understand, and have probably already set your clocks for six p.m.

>> Event Details: 

“Nutcracker on Ice” Holiday ice show begins at 5:00 PM at the Outdoor Rink, Sun Valley Lodge Terrace.

Torchlight Parade & Fireworks immediately following the ice show(usually around 6:00 PM)

Dress: Bundle up and look for hot chocolate and goodies on the Lodge Terrace (and maybe even a surprise visit from Santa after the “Nutcracker on Ice” Holiday ice show.

Christmas Eve Celebration at Sun Valley Resort

Join us for holiday fun at Sun Valley Resort on December 24.  Festivities will begin at 5pm at the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace and Outdoor Ice Rink.  Nutcracker On Ice followed by Torchlight Parade and Fireworks.  Be sure to bundle up to stay warm for all the outdoor events!

Christmas Eve Celebration at Sun Valley Resort


Join us for holiday fun at Sun Valley Resort on December 24. Festivities will begin at 5pm at the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace and Outdoor Ice Rink. Be sure to bundle up to stay warm for all the outdoor events!

Enjoy a free performance of the classic Christmas tale of the “Nutcracker on Ice” (performed by local children & adults ), free hot chocolate, cookies, Fireworks and Dollar Mountain torchlight parade and free ice skating after the show. The performance will last a half-hour to 45 minutes. Sun Valley Village retail shops will be open late for last minute shoppers!