Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Holidays from the Grand Canyon

Visiting the Grand Canyon during winter offers travelers willing to brave the cold weather many benefits. The park is much less crowded than during summer months. There’s something special about seeing this natural wonder with a light dusting of snow. But most importantly, there are plenty of holiday events in and around Grand Canyon National Park the whole family will enjoy.

On select dates and times beginning Nov. 11 through Jan. 6, Grand Canyon Railway, the historic railroad line that has ferried passengers to and from the park since 1901, is transformed into the Polar Express, bringing to life the classic children’s story. Families will delight at the enchanted nighttime jaunt from Williams, Ariz., through northern Arizona’s forest of snowy pines, all the way to the North Pole, where Santa Clause and his companions await with keepsakes for the children. Tickets for this approximately 90-minute journey start at just $25 for children.

On Nov. 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the town of Williams, Ariz., will celebrate the holiday season with its annual Parade of Lights and Tree Lighting Ceremony. This timeless tradition takes place in the center of town. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at Ninth Street and will meander along historic Route 66. Join carolers, arts and crafts vendors, and Santa Clause himself as the town rings in the Christmas season with an official tree lighting ceremony. If you miss the ceremony, the town’s Christmas tree will be on display through the end of the year.

While not overtly Christmasy, Hermit’s Rest, the small outpost at the western terminus of Hermit Road, boasts a magical view of the Grand Canyon. Marvel over the snow-covered canyon walls. Then head inside for seasonal treats such as hot cocoa and freshly baked cookies. The two-story-tall alcove stone fireplace provides a quaint spot to relax in a rocking chair and warm your extremities. Don’t forget to steal a kiss beneath the mistletoe. Hermit Road is open to all vehicles during the winter months, though freezing conditions can present problems for motorists. Always check ahead.

If the 15-foot Christmas tree in the lobby of El Tovar doesn’t put you in the spirit of the season, the Santa hats atop the mounted animals throughout the historic hotel just might. The massive fireplace in El Tovar’s commons area is one of the most popular spots on property this time of year. Snuggle up fireside with your significant other on one of the plush couches. Sip some decadent hot cocoa and watch through the floor-to-ceiling windows as a winter storm passes over the Grand Canyon. The Swiss chalet-inspired hotel, built in 1905, is a peaceful, quiet place to spend the holidays. Guests can also enjoy special dinners on Christmas and New Year’s days.

Take to the skies for unparalleled views of the Grand Canyon. Aboard a luxury touring helicopter, you’ll be afforded sweeping panoramas of this natural wonder’s iconic features dusted in light layer of pristine snow. Marvel at the power of the mighty Colorado River as you navigate your way through the Dragon Corridor. You’ll want to bring your camera to capture the stunning images of Kaibab National Forest. It’s lovely weather for a helicopter ride together!

During select dates from Dec. 8 to 18, Sedona’s Emerson Theater Collaborative will be performing a radio drama version of the timeless tale “A Christmas Carol” complete with live music and sound effects. The performances will take place at The Collective Sedona’s Vista Hall. Actors in minimal costuming will read from scripts, assuming the voices of different characters. Be a part of this magical tradition as Dickens’ beloved story comes to life.

Red Rock Fantasy, a month-long celebration of the holiday season, returns to Sedona’s one-of-a-kind arts and crafts village, Tlaquepaque. The replica Mexican village takes on the spirit of the holidays during the month of December. In partnership with the town’s parks and recreation department and Sedona Chamber of Commerce, Red Rock Fantasy offers visitors the chance to ice skate and enjoy special screenings of favorite holiday movies. Those in town on Dec. 10 will be treated to a special treat as Tlaquepaque hosts the annual Lighting of the Luminarias. More than 6,000 paper luminarias are scattered throughout the courtyard, making for a truly splendid setting sure to put you in a festive mood.

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