Light up the Night

On Saturday night, following a countdown of 5-4-3-2-1, it was officially Christmas in Sun Valley! Hundreds of people in the holiday spirit flocked to the Village to enjoy the lighting of the Christmas tree and all the surrounding activities.

Sun Valley is magical at night, lit with millions of white lights

Sun Valley is magical at night, lit with millions of white lights. Saturday night hundreds strolled beneath them

Merrymakers were greeted by millions of white lights that festooned trees up and down the walkways, creating a magical glow amid light snow. Hot chocolate stations kept everyone warm and happy as they enjoyed all the night offered.

Among the highlights? Ice carving demonstrations that showed just how much work and skill – and how many power tools  – it takes to create one of the many oversize ice sculptures that will now remain throughout Sun Valley for the rest of the cold weather season. The noisy sounds of chainsaws mixed with the shouts of delighted children as blocks of ice transformed into Christmas trees, thrones and, of course, a big Sun Valley Sun. Many, curious about the properties of such huge ice blocks, hopped onto the seats wondering if they would stick. They didn’t, but it surely was a bit chilly!

It takes a chainsaw and some serious artistic skill to transform a huge block of ice into a festive holiday tree

It takes a chainsaw and some serious artistic skill to transform a huge block of ice into a festive holiday tree

Sun Valley’s famous and charming carolers also gathered at the event, serenading the crowd with many Christmas favorites. The group of young men and women, clad in old fashioned and traditional winter outfits (complete with hand muffs for the girls), put a smile on everyone’s face as they sang the evening away in multi-part harmony.

The Sun Valley's famous carolers' renditions of holiday songs put a smile on everyone's faces

The Sun Valley's famous carolers' renditions of holiday songs put a smile on everyone's faces

Santa made an appearance and invited dozens and dozens of children to whisper last-minute wishes in his ear.

The highlight of the event, though, was probably the lighting of Sun Valley’s beautiful, living Christmas tree, located just outside the doors to the Sun Valley Inn. Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva welcomed the group, abuzz with anticipation, and then counted down until the switch was thrown and the tree came alive with color. You could almost hear the collective intake of breath before the applause began.

5-4-3-2-1! The Sun Valley Christmas tree is alight for the season

5-4-3-2-1! The Sun Valley Christmas tree is alight for the season

The merriment continued well into the night with the Duchin Lounge at the Lodge hosting a Christmas sweater party and Village restaurants preparing festive and delicious meals to suit every taste and every budget. Santa Claus greeted families at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room Saturday and Sunday morning and excitement was in the air.

Be sure not to miss Sunday night’s sixth Annual Classical Christmas Concert at The Sun Valley Opera House  Tickets are available at the Sun Valley Recreation Center for $20, or for purchase at the door. For more information please call 208.622.2135 or email recreation@sunvalley.com. Doors open at 6:30 and the music begins at 7 p.m.

The mountains skied really well this weekend, too, inviting snow sports enthusiasts to enjoy the run up to Christmas Day under bright blue Idaho skies, surrounded by some of the most jaw dropping vistas in the Lower 48. Reports from up top were generally comprised of “woo hoo!”

Welcome to Sun Valley where Christmas is exactly the way it is supposed to be!

Welcome to Sun Valley where Christmas is exactly the way it is supposed to be!

It’s truly beginning to look a lot like Christmas and we are all glad that you are here to share the holidays in true Sun Valley style!

–RES

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

Strolling through a Winter Wonderland

Sun Valley’s second annual Winter Wonderland Festival, taking place this Saturday, December 14, springs straight out of a picture book depicting an ideal holiday setting. Snow sparkles all around, the inviting smell of peppermint hot chocolate wafts through the air mixing with fresh baked gingerbread, holiday windows display cozy, colorful ways to keep warm and children’s laughter rings out from every direction.

The village brightens up with million lights

It is a family affair, indeed, at the Sun Valley Village when the Resort invites everyone to join them to officially usher in the Christmas season. The young and young at heart will decorate gingerbread men, little ones can enjoy a train ride around the Village, live music provided by choirs from Wood River High School will offer a light-hearted soundtrack and food will be plentiful.

Santa, I have been a very good boy this year...

Santa, I have been a very good boy this year...

Santa is coming to town, too, and will be available to hear children’s Christmas wishes, all while posing for that all-important holiday picture.

Back by popular demand, a scavenger hunt will also keep guests busy. Village shop windows are dressed with wonderful black and white archival photos depicting Sun Valley’s history as America’s number one winter destination resort. By identifying photos and completing the scavenger hunt, participants qualify for a free (yummy) prize!

Be sure to clear your afternoon. Gingerbread cookie decorating takes place in the Boiler Room from 2 to 4 p.m. Train rides are also offered during this time. Santa will take center stage on the Boiler Room deck beginning at 1 p.m. and will be ho, ho, ho’ing for two hours.

Last year, a group of friends and I bundled up our children and spent the afternoon in Sun Valley for the Winter Wonderland Festival, even finding time for a champagne toast to the season in the lobby outside the Duchin Room at the Lodge. The afternoon put a smile on everyone’s face and got us all in the holiday spirit.

But wait, there’s more! The fun continues on Sunday, December 15. With only ten days remaining until Christmas morning, now is the time to visit the Signatures & Gift Shop at the Village to have your presents beautifully wrapped. Members of Girls on the Run, a local program seeking to empower girls and young women through fitness and communication, will express gift wrap any present from anywhere. Donations are appreciated for this service.

Sunday also marks the return of the Lodge Dining Room’s famous, bountiful, elegant Sunday Brunch, offered from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. New specialties and complimentary champagne are included in this wonderful tradition.

Sunday brunch at the Lodge Dining Room returns (yay!) on December 15

Sunday brunch at the Lodge Dining Room returns (yay!) on December 15

For details and more information on upcoming Winter Wonderland Festival festivities please visit www.sunvalley.com/holidays.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

–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

Holiday Window Stroll

Holiday Window Stroll

Daily, November 23 – January 4
Sun Valley Village Shop Windows

A free and interactive self-guided stroll through the Village. The theme, “Celebrating the Language of the Holidays”, honors the cultural diversity of holidays and festive celebrations around the globe. Participants will receive “passports” to be stamped inside at every window location, each bearing a holiday greeting in a different language. A special seasonal confection will be given out at the end of the stroll.

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