Thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights, with a mystical glow when snow covers the trees and buildings, greet the visitor to Sun Valley Village during the holidays. One can almost imagine what Santa’s place would have looked like at the North Pole.
But the light show is only part of the magic in Sun Valley at Christmas time. A nighttime stroll through the village is a sensual feast, with beautiful snow and ice sculptures, snow that sparkles, sweet smells of chocolate or peppermint, Christmas carolers, holiday window displays and train rides for the kids.
Christmas in Sun Valley has always been a grandiose affair, but became even more so last year when Sun Valley Resort inaugurated its Winter Wonderland Festival. Now in its second year, the festival makes Sun Valley a special place to be for the holidays.
The second annual Winter Wonderland Festival officially started on Saturday, Dec. 14, but it will continue throughout the holidays. The Sun Valley Carolers will stroll the village singing traditional Christmas songs from Dec. 19 through Dec. 30.
To augment the village Christmas atmosphere, there are numerous special events scheduled for the holiday season.
On Thursday, Dec. 19, Glassbaby, a Seattle glassblowing company, will present its trunk show to display its products at the Lodge Gift Shop. The company typically donates money from sales to cancer research or to charities assisting cancer victims. Donations from the Sun Valley show will benefit Expedition Inspiration Breast Cancer Research.
On Saturday, Dec. 21, Santa Claus is coming to town and adults and kids can have breakfast with him at the Lodge Dining Room from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $29 for adults and $22 for children. Kids 3 and under can attend for free. The event continues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 22.
Also on Dec. 21, the village Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place at the Sun Valley Inn. The event begins at 5 p.m. with food and beverages and carolers, leading to the lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Santa and his sleigh are scheduled to arrive at 6:05 p.m. Ice carving demonstrations will be held at 6:15 p.m.
From 6-7 p.m. on Dec. 21 a “Vintage Xmas Sweater & Punch Party” will be held at the Duchin Lounge at Sun Valley Lodge with prizes being awarded for first, second and third place.
Christmas music comes to the Festival at 7 p.m. Dec. 22, with the sixth annual Classic Christmas Concert at the Sun Valley Opera House, in the village. The concert features the Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus singing gospel and traditional Christmas songs. Tickets are $20.
The festival reaches its zenith on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Events start off at 4 p.m. with complimentary hot cocoa and cookies served on the Sun Valley Lodge patio. The Sun Valley Carolers will sing at 5:30 p.m., leading to the free “Nutcracker on Ice” show at 5:40 p.m. on the outdoor rink. The show features both professional and local young skaters.
At 6 p.m., the action moves to Dollar Mountain, with the annual Torchlight Parade, in which Sun Valley Snowsports instructors ski down the slopes while holding lit torches. After the parade is the fireworks show at Dollar Mountain. From 9-11 p.m., a free egg-nog party will be held at the Konditorei.
The Ho-Ho Handrails & Holiday Ho-down rail jam will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Dec. 28 at Dollar Mountain. It will be followed by a Ho-Down Dance Party from 6:15-8 p.m. with music provided by ENFX.
On Dec. 29, the Sunday Champagne Brunch will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lodge Dining Room. The cost is $32 for adults and $22 for children 12 and under.
Also on Dec. 29, the Christina Healy jewelry trunk show will be held at the Lodge Gift Shop.
The holidays are also a good time to go skiing or snowboarding at Bald Mountain or Dollar Mountain or to Nordic ski on Sun Valley Resort’s extensive groomed trail system.
Another thing to consider is a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh to Trail Creek Cabin for dinner. Reservations are required through the resort Recreation Center at (208) 622-2135.
For more information on Sun Valley holiday activities, visit www.sunvalley.com/holidays or call (208) 622-2800.