Christmas in Sun Valley Village is like walking into a Christmas card.
Thousands of twinkling Christmas lights, snow-covered evergreens, swans on the pond near Sun Valley Lodge, Christmas carolers, ice sculptures, the smell of hot chocolate, a gingerbread town complete with a toy train—it’s enough to make even the scroogiest scrooge forget his scroogy ways and wish to be a child once again.
Though Christmas in Sun Valley Village has always been festive, this year Sun Valley Resort has upped the ante by declaring the Christmas holidays to be the Sun Valley Winter Wonderland Festival.
There’s a scale model of Sun Valley Village built almost entirely of gingerbread, coordinated store shop window displays with the theme “Celebrating the Language of the Holidays” and of course Santa Claus, with a new idea of “Santa Claus is coming to breakfast.”
“They’re part of the new winter wonderland at Sun Valley that speaks to families,” said resort spokesman Jack Sibbach.
Sibbach said that in its first weekend, Dec. 8-9, the breakfast-with-Santa event was already becoming a hit, with 66 people attending on the first Saturday and 88 on the first Sunday. Breakfast with Santa will continue each Saturday and Sunday from 8-10:30 a.m. through Dec. 23.
Santa can be found in the Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room. Besides having breakfast with Santa, participants can have their photos taken with him. The breakfast costs $25 for adults and $15 for children 3-12. Kids under 3 get in free. Reservations can be made at 622-2800.
The gingerbread village can be found in the Boiler Room building next to Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports. Dozens of Sun Valley Village buildings have been modeled from gingerbread to capture the picturesque essence of Sun Valley. A Union Pacific toy train, to commemorate the beginnings of Sun Valley Resort, runs around the 20-by-30-foot perimeter of the display.
“Everything is made of gingerbread except the amphitheater,” said resort employee Stephen Sexton, referring to the Sun Valley Pavilion. “I was told that’s the model they used before they built the building.”
Sexton was staffing the gingerbread village model, serving hot chocolate and other hot drinks and answering questions from visitors about the display.
The gingerbread buildings were built by Mary Jones, owner of the Chocolate Moose in Ketchum.
On Saturday, Dec. 22, from 2-3 p.m. children can build their own gingerbread houses at the display. The cost is $30. Refreshments will be served and kids can take their creations home.
Village visitors are also invited to take the “holiday window stroll” to see the cultural diversity of Christmas celebrations around the world. Four international illustrators, Danielle Davis from the United States, Ben Javens from England, Miguel Ornia-Blanco from Argentina and Janine Rewell from Finland, were commissioned to create 13 displays in shop windows and elsewhere in the village depicting Christmas scenes from different countries.
Stroll participants are issued special passports that are stamped with a holiday greeting in a different language at each of the 13 locations.
Also in the village, the Sun Valley Carolers sing carols nightly from Dec. 15-30.
More Christmas music can be enjoyed at the fifth annual Classical Christmas Concert on Friday, Dec. 21, at the Sun Valley Opera House. Doors open at 7 p.m. with the concert starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, at $38 each for general seating, are available at the Sun Valley Recreation Center or can be purchased by telephone call at 622-2135 or 888-622-2108.
The concert will feature the Sun Valley Carolers, the Hatvani Chamber Ensemble and an as-yet unannounced “special guest artist” who will join tenor John Mauldin, soprano Leslie Mauldin and pianist and baritone Jed Moss.
While Sun Valley Village provides a sensual feast throughout the holidays, it will be especially that way, of course, on Christmas Eve.
The public is invited to a free performance at 5 p.m. of the “Nutcracker on Ice” at the outdoor ice rink. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be provided.
Fireworks and a torchlight parade will follow the show at Dollar Mountain.
Finally, Santa will arrive and visitors can skate for free at the ice rink.
Not many “bah, humbugs” are likely to be heard at Sun Valley this holiday season.
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org