Since Dec. 21, 1936, when Sun Valley opened its doors as the first destination ski resort in the U.S., the resort has prided itself on a winter wonderland experience to entice even the grinchiest grinches. With hot chocolate flowing and carolers caroling, Sun Valley’s Winter Wonderland still seems wonderous no matter your age.
The holiday season in Sun Valley has already begun, and there is plenty to see and do before the clock turns to midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Tomorrow, Dec. 19, those in the holiday mood can don their favorite vintage holiday sweater and head to the Duchin Lounge for a party and sweater competition. Prizes for first, second and third place will be awarded, as well as maybe a few other surprises, according to Sun Valley Public Relations and Communications Manager Kelli Lusk. The party begins at 5 p.m. and concludes at 7 p.m., followed by live jazz piano at the Duchin Lounge by Brooks Hartell until 10 p.m.
Beginning Friday, Dec. 20, through Saturday, Dec. 28, the Sun Valley Carolers will give daily performances throughout Sun Valley Village and at various Sun Valley restaurants. Keep your ears open to find them.
Also, on Dec. 20, guests and locals alike can go watch Warren Miller’s “Timeless” at the Sun Valley Opera House. Tickets are $5.50 and can be purchased at the door. The film begins at 2 p.m.
Two kid-friendly holiday movies will be presented, one on Saturday, Dec. 21, “Arthur Christmas,” and another on Christmas Eve, “Elf,” at the same time.
For the kiddos on Friday, Dec. 20, The Community Library presents Holiday Storytelling at the Sun Valley Lodge Sunroom from 3:30-5:30 p.m. to share festive holiday stories new and old. All children in attendance will receive a holiday treat bag when they leave.
On Sunday, Dec. 22, guests can celebrate Sunny the Bear’s birthday at Dollar Mountain Lodge. The birthday party will be from 3-5 p.m., with birthday cake and party favors. Following the birthday celebration attendees can make their way to the 12th annual Classic Christmas Concert, directed by Melodie Taylor-Maudlin. With music direction by R.L. Rousey, this event will feature singing, playing and storytelling along with unexpected visits from special guests (Santa?!). Admission rates range from $25-$28 for adults and children 2 and younger are free. Tickets are available at sunvalleyresort.eventbrite.com. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will start promptly at 7 p.m.
Christmas Eve will bring the traditional Skating in a Winter Wonderland Ice Show. The free event will highlight modern renditions of classic holiday music and feature performances by 2016 U.S. Open Pro champion Ashley Clark and U.S. gold medalist Ryan Bradley. There will also be a special appearance by the magical Disney snowman himself, Olaf. Group numbers will be performed by the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club and visiting holiday guests. The doors will open at 3 p.m. and the show will start at 5:30 p.m. Per tradition, there will also be free hot chocolate and cookies for guests—Sun Valley is baking some 3,500 of them—and an appearance by the Sun Valley Carolers and Santa Claus.
Immediately following the show, look to Dollar Mountain to watch one of Sun Valley’s oldest traditions: the torchlight parade.
According to Lusk, the first torchlight parade in the U.S. was started here in Sun Valley on Christmas Eve in 1937.
“The Austrian ski instructors brought the tradition over from their country, where it was practiced for generations,” Lusk said.
The parade consists of members of the Sun Valley Snowsports School making their way down the mountain in a serpentine pattern carrying red torchlights, followed by fireworks.
Bringing in the new year
Once Christmas is out of the way, bust out the bubbly to celebrate one of the world’s biggest champagne houses at the Clicquot in the Snow Party from 1-3 p.m. at The Roundhouse on Friday, Dec. 27. There will be live music, a photobooth and #clicquotinthesnow treats. If you miss the first one, stop by the Warm Springs Day Lodge between 1 and 4 p.m. on Dec. 29 for another Clicquot snow party. For those who just can’t get enough of the fancy bubbly, stop by the Duchin Lounge on New Years Eve for a full-on Clicquot bar.
On Saturday, Dec. 28, lace up your skates and head to the Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink for ‘80s on Ice, two hours of the decade’s best hits from 5-7 p.m.
For the kids on Dec. 27 and Jan. 2 there will be an adventure night from 6-9 p.m. with games, an appearance by the Ice Princess and her friends and other fun activities. The evening is for kids 3 to 12 and includes dinner for $60. Call 208-622-2009 to make reservations and get further details.
New Year’s Eve will bring fireworks and celebration as family night skiing begins at 5 p.m. on Dollar Mountain. Those who don’t want to put on skis can enjoy face painting, New Year’s Eve party-hat decorating, photo booth sessions and more at the Lodge. The night will conclude with fireworks beginning at 9 p.m.
From the mountain, celebrators can head to River Run Lodge (if they have a ticket) to bring in the new year with Sun Valley’s Bubbly Bash to benefit the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. If tickets are still available, they are $150 and can be purchased online at sunvalleycenter.org.
For more information on any of the events, visit sunvalley.com.