If you really want to get in the holiday spirit, head to the hills in December.
Whether it’s a day trip to your local mountain or a getaway to a larger resort, you’ll find slopes and trails covered in white, colorful decorations, holiday-themed events and attractions, plenty of good cheer and loads of special activities. There’s no better way to celebrate the season than enjoying all of this with friends and family.
Early season skiing and snowboarding are part of the mix also. With many areas opening in mid-November and state-of-the-art snowmaking and grooming, there’s plenty to be excited about. Here is a sampling of events and activities in snow country this holiday season.
Okemo Mountain Resort ramps up the holidays with a full schedule of events. Dec. 15 is the kickoff date for the Vertical Challenge, a fun and casual race series held throughout the East for adults and kids. Racers are divided by age and gender and compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. It’s also Demo Day. You can grab a pair of the latest skis or a snowboard and take some test runs for free. On Dec. 22, Santa makes a pre-Christmas appearance at Jackson Gore to visit with children, make sure they’re behaving and hear any last-minute requests. The next day, he will be on the slopes with his elves, handing out balloons and spreading good cheer before heading off to the North Pole to begin his journey ’round the world. On Christmas Eve the Jackson Gore Roundhouse will be the setting for a candlelight service and traditional caroling. And on Christmas Day the resort’s mascot, Calvin the Catamount, and his troupe of friends will be out on the hill ready to join your group for a run or two. Cookies and crafts, a torchlight parade and fireworks, movies, a presentation by VINS (Vermont Institute of Natural Science) bringing live raptors to Jackson Gore for an up-close look at birds of prey, and several other activities for both adults and kids round out the vacation period. And a family New Year’s Eve celebration, wrapping up the festivities, gets an early start so everyone will be ready to hit the slopes the next day.
Not far from Okemo is the quintessential town of Woodstock, Vt. One very special time there is Wassail Weekend — this year set for Dec. 7-9. During the weekend you will be able to tour the Billings Farm historic farmhouse and barns, take a sleigh or wagon ride, visit the historic and beautifully decorated homes in the town on a holiday house tour, hear wonderful music and enjoy the artisan market and craft fair. On Saturday, Dec. 8 the annual Wassail Parade serves up a highlight of the weekend.
Bretton Woods always has plenty going on during the holiday season, and this year is no exception. Dec. 15 marks the resort’s 45th anniversary Sapphire Celebration with special activities all day. The younger set can sip cocoa with Mrs. Claus while decorating cookies and listening to the jolly woman telling a Christmas story. Older kids and adults can express their creativity by painting on glass. Create two snowman-decorated glasses for yourself or as a gift. In the evening take an old-fashion sleigh ride, guided by Santa, around the grounds of the historic Omni Mount Washington Hotel. If you didn’t make it to the earlier painting session, try your hand in the evening, painting two glass ornaments. Other activities during the holiday week include breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a special holiday event for adults on Dec. 17 with dinner and dancing to the renowned Glen Miller Orchestra, wildlife encounters, planetarium programs, a scavenger hunt and many après-ski parties for both adults and kids.
Loon Mountain will be offering five First Class Beginner’s Weekends this season. The first two are just in time to get you on the slopes for the holidays. Choose either Dec. 1-2 or 15-16 to start on your way to being a skier or snowboarder. The weekend includes lift tickets, instruction, use of a private slopeside learning lounge, morning coffee, lunch and an après-ski gathering. You get your own equipment to keep. Coaches will set you up with your equipment to ensure a good fit, then spend the weekend with you in this intensive program. You’ll gain a new appreciation of the winter lifestyle and develop a new outlook on winter. Space is limited and reservations are required.
Celebrate Sunday River’s 59th birthday with a bash called Winterfest. On the weekend of Dec. 15-16 everything is celebrated — winter, birthdays, the start of night skiing and riding, Santa’s arrival, Christmas, Hanukkah and more. Night skiing on South Ridge and North Peak opens on Dec. 15 with $5 lift tickets. San- ta visits the South Ridge lodge to visit with kids and leave a gift or two. There will be a Hanukkah party with lighting of the candles and other traditions of the holiday. And they’ll light up the trail with 59 torches and a parade down Southridge with an amazing fireworks display afterward. The bash continues at the Foggy Goggle with live music by Fighting Fiction. From Dec. 21-31 there will be events and activities including night skiing and riding, snow tubing, appearances by mascot Eddy the Yeti, laser tag, a fire dancer and après parties.
A little further north you can get in the season’s spirit as Sugarloaf rings in the holidays on Dec. 15 with a lighting of the Village Tree, arts and crafts festival, street performers, a visit from Santa and fireworks. Throughout Christmas Week there will be music, entertainment, a fashion show, s’mores and an ice cream party, horse and carriage rides, movies, a kidfriendly dinner with the resort’s mascot Amos and his friends and much more. On Dec. 28 you can support Sugarloaf Charity Summit by participating in the Climb for a Cure. Experience a moonlight climb to Bullwinkle’s Bistro, the on-mountain restaurant with a spectacular view.
Now under the Vail Resorts umbrella, Sunapee is abuzz with holiday action. The Mount Sunapee Area Ski Club Holiday Gathering is set for Dec. 8 and benefits Toys for Teens and Tots and the Chip Gilroy Fund at Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Mount Sunapee “Care & Shares” is a day later. Ski or ride the entire day for just $35 with a contribution of five nonperishable food items. Ring in the new year “Sunapee style” at Goosefeathers Pub with a DJ playing music and fireworks beginning at 9 p.m. on Eggbeater right outside.