Even a cynic like me cannot but be charmed by the Yosemite Majestic Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee) decorated for Christmas. When the hotel opened its doors in 1927, Donald Tressider (president of the Yosemite Park and Curry Company) invited guests saying “This year with its first Christmas fire burning upon the hearth at The Ahwahnee, we hope that the spirit of the olden Christmas may find here an abiding place…”
To that end, and to encourage visitation to the new hotel, Tressider developed and hosted the first Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite National Park. The Christmas dinner and pageant were based loosely on author Washington Irving’s story “A Christmas at Bracebridge Hall.” Decorations, food and performers transported guests at the sumptuous dinner back to 18th century England. Since 1927, the Bracebridge Dinner has been an annual tradition at the The Ahwahnee Hotel. Tressider and his wife, Mary Curry Tressider, played squire and lady Bracebridge. The pageant continued to include Yosemite fixtures such as Ansel Adams and Ted and Jeanette Spencer (the design and architecture power couple behind the hotel).
The Bracebridge dinner was cancelled during WWII when the hotel was converted into a Naval hospital. The dinner resumed after the war’s end and grew to 7 Christmas time performances each year. For many years, tickets were available by lottery only. Today if you want to attend the magical Bracebridge dinner, you can simply purchase tickets online.