Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Sun Valley, Christmas comes to life

Resort offers quintessential holiday experience


Sun Valley figure skater Darlin Baker performs in the 2010 Christmas Eve ice show at Sun Valley Resort.

Long-held traditions, customs in the making, and one-of-a-kind experiences all can find a place in Sun Valley over the Christmas holidays.

Seventy-five years ago today, Sun Valley Lodge opened its doors, inaugurating Sun Valley as a ski resort and as a holiday destination.

In commemoration of the historic occasion, Sun Valley Resort has planned special events in addition to its established holiday happenings. The festivities continue to ensure that the Wood River Valley is one of the best places to be—or feel—at home for the holidays.

Silver & Gold on ice

To commemorate Sun Valley's 75th anniversary, the resort is presenting a special ice skating show tonight, Dec. 21.

The Silver & Gold Ice Show will feature Evan Lysacek, 2010 Olympic gold medalist; Sasha Cohen, Olympic silver medalist; Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, two-time U.S. bronze medalists; and many others. The evening's guest announcer will be Scott Hamilton, a former Olympian known for his colorful commentary.

"It's a way to celebrate the 75th anniversary that a lot of people can participate in," said resort spokesman Jack Sibbach. "Ice skating is part of our heritage."

Fireworks and the Sun Valley carolers also will be part of the event.

The show begins at 6 p.m.

The show coincides with the launch of the new book, "The Sun Valley Story," written by journalist Van Gordon Sauter. After the ice show and fireworks, "gold ticket" holders can join ice show performers at the Sun Valley Inn's Limelight Room for a book-signing party. Copies of Sauter's book will be available.

Tickets for both events can be purchased by calling 622-2135, or visiting sunvalley.com.

The sounds of Christmas

Sun Valley is holding its fourth annual Christmas concert this Friday, Dec. 23.

The concert features soprano Celena Shafer along with Sun Valley Director of Entertainment and tenor John Mauldin and his sister, soprano Leslie Mauldin. Baritone Jed Moss will sing and play piano. Also returning will be the Hatvani Chamber Ensemble and the Sun Valley Carolers.

Traditional Christmas music will be featured along with samples from classical to contemporary.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House.

For tickets, call the Sun Valley Recreation Center at 622-2135.

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Sun Valley sparkles on Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, the resort hosts a free ice show, "The Nutcracker on Ice," for the community and guests. After the show, spectators can view a torchlight parade—featuring skiers holding bright torches—down Bald Mountain, followed by fireworks. Carolers and Santa Claus round out the entertainment.

Free hot chocolate, cider and cookies will be provided on the Lodge terrace.

"It's a good time for families to gather," Sibbach said. "It's one of the reasons people come here with their families, and continue to come here. Some have been coming for over 50 years, with three generations of people. We want to continue that. It's a Sun Valley tradition but it's also their family tradition."

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. at the Sun Valley Lodge terrace and outdoor ice rink.

Wine and dine

The Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room will open at 6 p.m. tonight, Dec. 21, for a special 75th winter season celebration gourmet dinner.

To see if reservations are still available, call 622-2800.

Christmas brunch will be held in the dining room the next morning.

Sleigh rides followed by a holiday dinner at Trail Creek Cabin are a tradition for many, Sibbach said. Horse-drawn sleighs leave the Sun Valley Inn at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Sibbach said reservations are made far in advance, but space may still be available. Check for availability by calling the Sun Valley Recreation Center at 622-2135.

Roundhouse restaurant, halfway up Bald Mountain, is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The venue is accessible by gondola.

"It's more than just a place to eat," Sibbach said. "It's a place to have an experience."

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com

Other things to do

There is a plethora of other fun family things to do for the holidays in the Sun Valley area or within a short driving distance.

- Consider Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve northeast of Carey as a place to take the family. Craters of the Moon boasts of a winter landscape with "deep snow that obscures the once fiery lava—dark jagged rocks protrude here and there through the backdrop of snow." Though the Craters of the Moon loop drive is closed to motorized travel in the winter, visitors can still hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe on seven miles of groomed track.

- North of Ketchum, families can spend the holidays in a yurt at Galena Lodge, though it might be best to plan that for a future holiday adventure because yurts are limited in number, and reservations tend to be filled quickly. If no yurts are available, there's still lodging, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and holiday dinners available there.

- Also, Lights in the Garden is featured from 5-8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in December at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden south of Ketchum. In addition to holiday light displays, the Botanical Garden will have warm fires, hot beverages, homemade cookies and crafts. The cost is $5 per person or $15 per vehicle load.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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