Heading the bill each winter at the Ahwahnee (formerly the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) are the annual Bracebridge Dinners, lavish Christmas celebrations featuring more than 100 performers and a seven-course feast, all of it prepared, served, and presented in a way that will transport you to 18th-century England. The December show, a loose adaptation of an episode from Washington Irving's Sketch Book, has been held every year at the Ahwahnee since 1927. The four-hour program features music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance rituals, traditional yuletide decorations, and plentiful food, song, and mirth. The event is held for less than a dozen nights in mid- to late December, so tickets tend to sell out fast.
Other winter events at the Ahwahnee include the New Year’s Eve gala, which features a six-course meal, live music , and dancing; celebrations are also held that night at sister Yosemite venues Yosemite Valley Lodge and The Wawona Hotel.
Two annual winter events revel in the region’s excellence in the realm of the delectable: the Vintners' Holidays and Chefs' Holidays. For both, the hotel’s Great Lounge is transformed into a culinary classroom. Vintners' Holidays—a toast to winemakers’ fall harvests with two-day sessions of wine tastings, seminars, and a gala five-course dinner—is held in November and December. At Chefs' Holidays in January, California's finest chefs strut their stuff during an hour-long skills demonstration; the master culinarians then prepare a dinner for all. One of the perks for attendees is insider access to the Ahwahnee's kitchen. Beneath its 35-foot ceilings are food-related antiques like the original 1927 walk-in refrigerators, which were kept cool with 500-pound blocks of ice from nearby Mirror Lake, and the 80-plus-year-old oven, where all the hotel’s bread is still baked.