Morin: A Winter Park tradition |

Morin: A Winter Park tradition

Inside The Lodge at Sunspot is one of the mountains best views!
Sarah Morin / Special to the Sky-Hi News |

Staring at the mountain peak there’s an overwhelming sense of serenity, a holiday spirit that starts to trickle through the mountain’s crisp air in late December.

The evergreen trees stand tall, speckles of asphalt peek through a heavy blanket of morning snow, as endless amounts of skiers make their way up to the mountains to celebrate the holiday season.

There are countless Christmas customs that families’ create year after year – and sometimes witnessing a little snowfall at a mountainside oasis is the most memorable tradition that makes your Christmas season a little brighter.

The ambient glow of the Christmas Eve Torch Lighting Ceremony is the gift that keeps on giving – an unmatchable family event that has been passed down from one family generation to the next. Winter Park has held this Christmas Eve spectacle close to their heart since 1978 and so will you for the event’s 38th year. Roughly 100 riders participate in this event! Countless employees that make up all of Winter Park Resort departments participate in the “ski down”. As the skiers make their way down Hughes lower run to the base of the mountain with feverish rhythm, illuminating the nighttime sky bearing lit torches, followed by decorated snow-cats with Santa’s sleigh following close behind.

Christmas Eve activities

As for ‘the night before Christmas’, on the mountain or off of the mountain, at Winter Park Resort you will find many family affairs throughout the village during the day. Santa Clause will be in the village gazebo from 1 to 5 p.m., along with carolers making their way to the base of the Zephyr lift at 3:15 p.m. The Torchlight Parade is a free event that you’re invited to watch by the resort base at 5:30 p.m. Families, friends and carolers assemble at the base of the mountain around a toasty bonfire as resort employees hand out hot cups of hot chocolate to start the evening. The Lodge at Sunspot’s manager, Kristen Zavilla, recommended the best view of the ski-down for families will be, “at the competition stand! It’s worth coming to the s’mores event at 4p.m. so you can grab a snack and snag a front row spot!”

As soon as Santa hops on the mountain, at the end of the ceremony, a firework display that echoes throughout the mountains. Locals advice you to watch the show from the base of Hughes run- where the skiers and snowboarders end the run!

Not ready to end your night at 8 o’clock? Before retiring home to bake cookies and watch the kids fall sleep to movies, why not continue your night with a warm gondola ride. Spend your evening at the top of the Zephyr lift, neatly 11,000 feet high, in The Lodge at Sunspot. An open space with vaulted ceilings, unparalleled views and holiday food options for family and friends to enjoy together.

Sunspot highly recommends reservations for the holidays – the restaurant will be serving dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Sunspot has a five- course gourmet menu offered to adults and a three-course kid friendly menu, also a separate “holiday buffet” is also being offered. Whether you were looking for a romantic evening out or an open venue to spend the evening with family this is the spot.

If you’re looking for Christmas Eve’s Church ceremonies that welcome all religions to participate, you’ll gladly be invited into the Balcony House immediately after the event.

Opening gifts in the morning, telling stories to your children at night and just spending time together outdoors, in the midst of a winter wonderland, is what makes Winter Park feel like a home away from home.

Attending the Torchlight Parade gives you a new view and appreciation of the mountain’s endless potential, all while keeping the story of Christmas alive.

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