The Ahwahnee’s “The Bracebridge Dinner”

The Ahwahnee Celebrates The 84th Sseason of The Bracebridge Dinner


The magic and splendor of the holiday season come to vibrant life again this year with the 84th anniversary season of The Bracebridge Dinner at The Ahwahnee, a full-service, AAA Four-Diamond hotel located in the winter wonderland of Yosemite Valley. Under the roof of the grand lodge, surrounded by a stunning, natural setting of granite cliff faces and snowcapped incense cedars, this remarkable American theatrical tradition transforms the hotel into a 17th century English manor for an elaborate feast of food, song and mirth for eight performances, December 13 through 25.

The Bracebridge Dinner is recognized as one of the most sought-after holiday events in the U.S. In 2006 The Wall Street Journal reported, "Bracebridge is, without much doubt, the country's, if not the world's, premier Christmas dinner." Decades earlier, The Bracebridge Dinner was featured in 1938 on the cover of Life magazine and acknowledged as an impressive and extravagant American holiday tradition.

Produced by San Francisco-based Andrea Fulton Productions, The Bracebridge Dinner is an evening celebration that transports guests to Old England, where more than 60 professional singers, court characters and other performers tell the story of a Christmas feast with Lord Merrick of Bracebridge and his household. During each performance, up to 300 guests enjoy a lavish, seven-course dinner inspired by elaborate Old English Christmas cuisine by The Ahwahnee's Executive Chef Percy Whatley, with service meticulously choreographed as part of the show. The Ahwahnee Dining Room, with its 50-foot ceiling topped by massive log beams, serves as the Great Hall at Squire Bracebridge's manor. The entire room is a stage, crowned by an elaborate Squire's table and decked with elaborate holiday decorations, many of which are restored originals from the first productions in the late 1920s.


The 2009 performances of The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite take place December 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 25, at 6 p.m. One- and two-night lodging packages for two at The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and the Wawona Hotel are available. The 2009 package rates range from $963 to $1,720 plus tax, and include lodging for two, two tickets to The Bracebridge Dinner, gratuity, a portrait sitting and shuttle service for non-Ahwahnee guests. Single tickets to The Bracebridge Dinner are available for $375 per person, including tax and gratuity.

Enhancing The Bracebridge Dinner experience at The Ahwahnee are five special concert presentations in the hotel's Great Lounge by the Andrea Fulton Chorale and soloists.  The concerts feature musical performances of holiday favorites, as well as pieces from the opera and Broadway repertoire. The concerts are open to the public, free of charge, and take place December 15, 17, 19, 21 at 8p.m., and on December 23 at 2p.m.

The original production of The Bracebridge Dinner was created by Garnet Holme, a California pageant director, who conceived the event for The Ahwahnee's first Christmas in 1927. The inspiration for this yuletide ceremony was author Washington Irving's The Sketch Book (1819) that described Squire Bracebridge and English Christmas traditions. After Holme's death in 1929, Donald Tresidder, president of the Yosemite Park & Curry Company, asked world-famous photographer Ansel Adams to assume directorship. Adams, who was also a talented musician and pianist, worked with Ahwahnee interior designer Jeanette Dyer Spencer to improve the script, set and costumes. He continued directing and performing in The Bracebridge Dinner until his retirement from the production in 1973.

Many of the cast members have been with the production for 20 to 25 years, maintaining a longstanding tradition and consistent mark of theatrical and musical excellence. When not in The Bracebridge Dinner, most perform with major opera companies and symphony orchestras throughout the world.

For more information or to make reservations, visit or call (801) 559-4949.


The editor or special guest writer for Entertainment Today.