Every once in a while my inner Lady Mary Crawley of Downton Abbey emerges and I feel the urge to be waited on by liveried staff serving a seven course meal with all the pomp and splendor of a royal wedding. This year’s indulgence was satisfied at the annual Bracebridge Dinner, held at Yosemite National Park’s historic Ahwahnee Hotel. Inspired by Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., and championed by none other than photographer Ansel Adams, the dinner has been held every year since 1927 and for a handful of evenings before Christmas the dining room of the rustic lodge is transformed into an 18th century English manor house. The six hour pageant of food, music, merriment and mirth was, in the past, by invitation only, but now guests have only to wave a credit card to attend the holiday event.
Irving’s Bracebridge stories centered around Squire Bracebridge, his lady and their household — among them the far more interesting jester (once played by Adams), the flamboyant cook and the imperious housekeeper. The banquet table is sumptuous, the costumes perfection, the cast of hundreds impressive and the script just this side of naughty. Videos and photos are strictly prohibited (“else ye be thrown in the dungeon!”) so visit the official website for a peek at this special event. For reservations or additional info, please call Yosemite Hospitality at 888-413-8869 or visit TravelYosemite.com.
– Rosemary Harris
Photo Credit: Public domain images of the Bracebridge Curtains.