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The Best Holiday Events in California

The holidays are a time for family, friends, a time to look back on the year past and once the hustle and bustle leading up to them are over – relaxation! This year, why not take a time out and schedule a trip to the high country for a holiday getaway? Be it for Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve or any holiday in between, Yosemite Mariposa County has some of the best holiday events in California.

The following are events in Yosemite Mariposa County during November and December. When you’re ready to visit us, don’t forget to check out our lodging page to search by region, budget, accommodation type and, yes, even pet-friendliness!

Looking for activities to help fill your time between holiday gatherings? Snow play, skiing and snowboarding, and ice skating are all great ways for the whole family to experience a Yosemite winter. If you’re here for Thanksgiving or Vintners’ Holidays in that late fall and early winter period, be sure to take some photos of the beautiful foliage or go out on a cool autumn hike.

How Do We Get to All the Yosemite Winter Events?

Two big questions come up when planning a winter trip to Yosemite, which is a winter wonderland when the snow flies. “Is the park open?’” and “how do you navigate to all of the Yosemite winter events?”

The answer to the first question is an easy one, yes! Yosemite and Mariposa County are open 365 days a year and they are a completely magical experience in the winter.

The answer to the second question is simple too, it’s easy to get around in the winter, you just need to be prepared. Be sure to pack – and know how to install – tire chains for your vehicle. Taking Highway 140 through Mariposa, the “All-Weather Highway,” can also add some ease to your trip. Its lower elevations mean you’re less likely to run into unfavorable road conditions.

For more frequently asked questions about winter in Yosemite, click here. For a primer on how to get around safely in the winter in Mariposa County, take a look at the video below.

Giving thanks in Mariposa County, Family-Oriented Holiday Events in California

Whether you’re looking for an incredible Thanksgiving retreat or just looking to let someone else do the cooking while you hit the trails, there are no shortage of ways to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.

Tenaya Lodge Thanksgiving Buffet

When: Nov. 28, 11 a.m to 7 p.m.
Where: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Details: A Thanksgiving feast where even the hungriest eaters will be hard-pressed to taste the full range of dishes. Looking for a more intimate setting? Private rooms are available for large parties. For a full menu, click here. To make reservations, call (559) 692-8974.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room

When: Nov. 28
Where: The Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room
Details: This Thanksgiving, celebrate among family, friends, and the epic beauty of Yosemite National Park. The Ahwahnee’s Executive Chef is once again preparing a legendary feast served in The Ahwahnee’s stunning Dining Room. For a complete menu, click here. To make a reservation, call 888-413-8869.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Wawona Hotel

When: Nov. 28, 1-9 p.m.
Where: Wawona Hotel
Details: This Thanksgiving, celebrate among family, friends, and the epic beauty of Yosemite National Park at the historic Wawona Hotel near the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. For a full menu, click here. To make a reservation, call 209-375-1425.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Yosemite Valley Lodge

When: Nov. 28
Where: Yosemite Valley Lodge
Details: The Mountain Room at Yosemite Valley Lodge is offering a delicious holiday meal to enjoy with friends and family. Reservations can be made by calling 209-372-1281. For a full menu, click here.

Thanksgiving at the June Bug Cafe

When: Nov. 28, 3-8:30 p.m.
Where: June Bug Cafe at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
Details: Known for fresh and seasonal offerings, the June Bug Cafe at the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort puts on a splendid family-style feast!  This annual tradition has been going on for more than 20 years and include new spins on traditional favorites. This year’s menu includes Baked Brie En Croute, Lobster and Truffle Mac and Cheese and Walnut and Lentil ‘Meatloaf”!

The Ahwahnee Hotel’s Signature Holiday Events in California

For decades, the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park has been a place of gathering for family and friends around the holidays and its signature food and wine events are the reason why. The season opens with Vintners’ Holidays in November and runs through January with Chefs’ Holidays. These are can’t miss Yosemite traditions!

Vintners’ Holidays

When: Nov. 3 – Dec. 5
Where: The Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room
Details: For and by wine-lovers, Vintners’ Holidays showcases acclaimed wines and winemakers. The event boasts representatives from wineries like Silver Oak, Robert Mondavi and many more and is one of the winemaker’s favorite holiday events in California. Mingle with esteemed winemakers at a “Meet the Vintners” reception held at The Ahwahnee. Sample vintages during four wine-tasting sessions, and listen in as vintners discuss all aspects of the art of winemaking. Then, on the final evening of each session, enjoy a spectacular five-course gala dinner. Each course compliments wines provided by one or more of the featured vintners.

Bracebridge Dinner

When: December 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 21, 2019
Where:The Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room
Details: Since 1927, the renowned Bracebridge Dinner has transformed The Ahwahnee Hotel’s Dining Room into a Renaissance-era hall filled with Yuletide festivities. Inspired by Washington Irving’s Sketch Book featuring Squire Bracebridge and Christmas traditions of the period, this annual event brings together more than 100 players portraying the Squire, his family, their servants, the Lords of Misrule and minstrels.

The Bracebridge Dinner is split across six separate event dates through December.

Chefs’ Holidays

When: Six sessions available between January 12 – January 31, 2019
Where: The Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room
Details: Get to know some of the biggest names in the culinary world at Chefs’ Holidays. Each session includes an intimate “Meet the Chefs” reception at The Ahwahnee. Learn tips and tricks from the chefs during cooking demonstrations. Then top the event off with an exquisite five-course gala dinner prepared by one (or sometimes more) of the featured chefs. Complimentary wine pairings highlight the flavor of each dish.

Yosemite Christmas Events

Whether you’re in Yosemite, Mariposa or Fish Camp, the holiday spirit is blanketed across Yosemite Mariposa County much like the snow in the High Sierra blankets the mountains. Check out the following Yosemite Christmas events that are great for couples, families, and friends.

Tenaya Lodge Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: Nov. 30
Where: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Details: This event may not actually be in December, but it’s sure to get you in the holiday spirit! Sparkling lights and glittering ornaments ignite “oohs” and “ahhs” as Tenaya decks the halls at the grand tree lighting ceremony on November 30th.  While munching cookies, sipping cocoa and rubbing elbows with Santa; guests can marvel as the lodge’s towering tree is set aglow and the lobby is transformed into a cheery holiday haven. Staying true to green sensibilities, Tenaya’s tree is not only the biggest in Central California, but it’s also sustainably harvested. The lodge just “tops off” a Douglas Fir each year so the rest of the tree can continue to grow healthily for years to come.

Mariposa Merry Mountain Christmas Festival

When: Dec. 14
Where: Downtown Mariposa and Mariposa Courthouse
Details: Join us in downtown Mariposa for a parade of lights down the town’s historic Highway 140 as always, the celebration will migrate with the Lion’s Club up to our historic Courthouse for time with Santa (and pictures!), free cocoa, hotdogs, & popcorn! And you can end your night in front of the bonfire!

Kid’s Dinner with Santa

When: Dec. 21 & 22, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Details: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite offers kids ages 4 through 12 an extra-special opportunity. Tenaya’s Kid’s Dinner with Santa gives children the chance to dine with Santa and his elves, giving them plenty of time to put in all their special gift requests. Please note: This is a “children only” event and it typically sells out early.

Gingerbread House Workshop

When: Dec. 21, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Where: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Details: Fun for the whole family! Construct your dream house out of marshmallows, jellybeans, and other delights. If some of the construction materials end up in your belly rather than on the house, don’t worry. Nobody will tell! The gingerbread house workshops have long been one of the top Yosemite Christmas events and are a Tenaya favorite among guests of all ages. The kids love this event, but so do the parents and grandparents. You can work on your gingerbread house as a family, or get multiple houses and have a friendly family competition. This event sells out every year — The kitchen can only make so many gingerbread houses!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas With Mrs. Claus

When: Dec. 24, 8:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Where: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Details: ‘Twas the Night before Christmas is an iconic Christmas poem that remains fun for all ages. The classic 1823 poem by Clement Clark Moore not only celebrated Christmas traditions, but helped create many of the traditions still celebrated today. And who better to read this Christmas classic than Mrs. Claus?

or more information and all of the updates regarding Yosemite/Mariposa County, be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram at @YosemiteNation.

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