DOUBLE THE DOUBLET: When the fall equinox arrives in California, a few things happen. The shadows grow long, the vineyards celebrate harvest, the Monarch butterflies start making their return, and revelers looking to raise a goblet and cheer a joust turn for Casa de Fruta, near Hollister, where the Northern California Renaissance Faire unfurls like so many ribbons off a Maypole. But wouldn't it be nicer if you didn't have to dry clean and stow those tights or that ruff or that doublet after the ren faire wraps? Wouldn't it be rather magical if you could again get ye olde dressy for another event, without even waiting for the old year to turn? You of course can, and it is no mere event: It's the Bracebridge Dinners of which we speak.
A YOSEMITE TRADITION: The grand dinner, which oh-so-grandly unfurls, with color and pomp, inside The Ahwahnee's high-ceiling, picture-perfect dining room, has been a national park staple since the 1920s. Yep, even photographer Ansel Adams was once a performer in the ceremony, a ceremony which recalls a 17th-century English manor. Many courses, much feasting, jovial songs and sketches performed by 100+ players, and happy yuletide-sweet jesting round out the full-to-bursting celebration. A celebration which has all the bells and whistles and a springs of holly and glittery streamers it can muster.
TICKETS ON SALE: It used to be, back in the day, that one had to put in for a lottery to have the chance to purchase tickets (there were far more interested parties than seats at the Bracebridge). But now? It runs over multiple nights, starting on Friday, Dec. 13 and ending on Christmas itself. It doesn't run every night, though, and some evenings are more popular than others -- hellooooo, Christmas Eve. And while you can buy a dinner admission, you can also put together a stay-over package at The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, and The Wawona. And what a year to raise a glass -- er, goblet? -- to the park and all of the people who stepped up to face the Rim Fire. Yosemite was much in the news this late summer, but knowing that traditions can continue, like the Bracebridge, is worth a hearty celebration indeed.