Experience the Bracebridge Dinner in Yosemite

Travel back in time to experience a traditional English Christmas.

Photo by: Yosemite Hospitality

Yosemite Hospitality

On select December nights, about 300 exquisitely dressed people are welcomed to a multi-course, candlelit feast in the snowy Yosemite Valley. Here, 40 professional performers from San Francisco and Los Angeles recreate a decades-old tradition that is high in demand.

If you’ve never heard of a Bracebridge Dinner, you’re not alone. This well-kept secret occurs only in December, and only at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel in Yosemite. The three-hour event, set during an 18th-century English feast, is best described as over-the-top Christmas dinner theater.

Photo by: Yosemite Hospitality

Yosemite Hospitality

It started in 1927 as a way to promote the property, then called the Ahwahnee Hotel. The show’s inspiration came from “The Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall,” a short story by none other than Washington Irving. (Ironically, he’s best known today for his Halloween tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”)

The original story painted a vivid picture of a traditional Christmas in rural 18th-century England. In turn, the tantalizing descriptions of such an elaborate feast inspired Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  While the Bracebridge tale has since taken a backseat to the latter, a version of the dinner did pop up in an episode of Gilmore Girls.

In keeping with the who’s who of notables surrounding the dinner, one of Bracebridge’s long-running directors was none other than Ansel Adams, the preeminent landscape photographer best known for his black and white photos of the American West, especially Yosemite. Adams appeared in the first two seasons of Bracebridge before taking over in 1929. In fact, his reworked framework of the show is still more or less performed today.

Today’s director and producer, Andrea Fulton, stepped into the role in 1979. She debuted as an extra at the age of five, and now plays one of the main roles and conducts the chorus. If that wasn’t enough, Fulton also fleshed out the script and added new characters and a lot more humor.

“It was a very somber pageant before, and now it’s a full book show,” she says. Her version debuted in 2000, and it's now up to seven shows. 

Photo by: Yosemite Hospitality

Yosemite Hospitality

Those who score tickets also get to experience a seven-course feast that recreates the Christmas dinner at Bracebridge Hall. A scene introduces each traditional course, including mulligatawny soup, peacock pie (made with duck), beef tenderloin and plum pudding.

All of this comes at a premium, as tickets for dinner alone start at $380 for adults ($427 if you choose the photo portrait option). Wine is separate. Children’s tickets start at $236, although kids under three aren’t allowed, and those under 10  aren’t encouraged.

There’s also a dinner and lodging option, where guests can choose between The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (pictured) or Yosemite Valley Lodge. Either way, attendees are expected to adhere to the strict dress code, which requires, at a minimum, a dark suit for men and cocktail dress for women. Since this is an extra special occasion, tuxedos and formal gowns are encouraged.

Photo by: Kristal Leonard

Kristal Leonard

“It’s known for its quality. It’s not just little theater,” says Fulton. “It’s big, solid, gorgeous, voluptuous theater. I think that separates us from the average production.”

If you can't get tickets for a performance this December, ticket sales for 2018 performances will open in December 2017.

Next Up

National Dive Bar Day: Is There a Portal To Hell In Memphis?

National Dive Bar Day is July 7, and a small Memphis joint may be pulling double duty as a dive bar and a portal for dark energy.

The Terrifying History Of The Most Haunted Doll In The World

Robert the Doll’s terror is so widespread that his exhibit includes letters from visitors begging his forgiveness.

Top 6 States With The Most Alien Encounters

UFOs visit California and Florida more than any other state according to the UFO Reporting Center.

Nashville's Top 6 Places to Shop

Find out where to shop to get the Nashville look or to take home a classic Music City souvenir.

Top 5 Places to Stay in Nashville

See our picks for top hotels in Nashville.

Meet The TikToker Who Makes Videos With Her ‘Frat Bro’ Ghost Friend, Chad

“It feels like sitting on the couch with an old friend,” Liv says of living with her ghost attachment, Chad.

Ghost Brothers: Lights Out Returns for Season 2 on discovery+!

All-New Paranormal Adventures Premiere Friday, October 7!

10 Of The Oddest Things Seen On Google Maps

It’s been 15 years since Google Maps launched its street view feature, and Google’s cars and satellites have captured their fair share of creepy photos and overhead images.

5 Unforgettable Spirits From Ghost Adventures Season 25

Zak Bagans and the Ghost Adventures crew encountered some extremely bold spirits in season 25.

More Creepy Content

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.