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Special Events:  The Bracebridge Dinner, Yosemite National Park, California

by Elaine Sosa Labalme

Ye Olde England comes a calling on the Yosemite Valley during the holiday season at The Bracebridge Dinner, a grand and festive Christmas pageant brought to life by famed photographer Ansel Adams nearly 80 years ago.  Taking its cue from author Washington Irving’s “A Christmas at Bracebridge Hall,” the three-hour-plus performance staged in the Ahwahnee Hotel’s majestic Dining Room is a feast of food and music guaranteed to put even the most curmudgeonly soul in the holiday spirit.

The evening unfolds as “Squire Bracebridge” welcomes the invited “guests” to his grand dining hall.  A feast of princely proportions is about to unfold, and the many courses require nothing less than an operatic roll call…Peacock Pie! Baron of Beef! Pudding and Wassail!  The carolers rejoice while the guests indulge, save for a few visits from a plucky jester.  No worries, though, since both the Squire’s housekeeper and friendly Parson know how to keep the proceedings running smoothly.

The singers, all highly trained and experienced professionals, bring a sense of splendor to the performance in keeping with the setting and the season.  The dinner itself, a seven-course repast, focuses on holiday classics and marries beautifully with the pageant.  Most delightful, however, is the warmth that is created in the room.  A sense of anticipation and good will is evident among those who’ve come to celebrate.  Tables are abuzz and smiles abound.  Our young son stared wide-eyed throughout the entire performance and didn’t want it to end.  It’s safe to say that a child’s wonderment was in the heart of many on that evening.

The Bracebridge Dinner is performed eight times in mid-December.  The Ahwahnee Hotel schedules a number of musical performances during Christmas week, making a multi-day visit a smart choice.  Children will appreciate the performance, with older kids able to get in on the many puns and double entendres.  The chance to dress up in holiday finery is a treat for children of all ages and the memories can be expected to last a lifetime.

The Bracebridge Dinner, Yosemite National Park, California.  2009 dates are December 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 25.

The Ahwahnee ~ $1720 / 2 nights, $1238 / 1 night
Yosemite Lodge at the Falls ~ $1170 / 2 nights, $963 / 1 night
Wawona Hotel ~ $1074 / 2 nights, $925 / 1 night
More info here: 2009 Bracebridge Dinner


Elaine Sosa is a food and travel writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. When she's not busy as a domestic goddess she's out traveling with husband Fen and seven-year-old son Steven. She hopes to be the next Charles Kuralt.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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