How can the holidays be anything but happy in Jackson Hole? A myriad of merry abounds from beneath the twinkling lights encircling the famous elk antlers in Town Square to the steep slopes of the area’s trio of ski resorts — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain and Grand Targhee.
Country Living magazine recently named Jackson Hole one of America's "20 Best Small Towns for Christmas." Ranked No. 4, the article says of Jackson Hole: "No town lights up for the holidays quite like Jackson. The town at the base of the Tetons has a spectacular Town Square any time of the year, with monumental arches of elk antlers at the four corners. But around the holidays, the arches are wrapped in strings of lights to illuminate the nights with a festive glow. Stick around until New Year's Eve if you want to see the torch parade of ski instructors snaking down the mountain at the town's two ski resorts."
Here are a few activities to help make your seasonal vacation bright.
Horse-drawn Sleigh Ride, Anyone?
From December 16th and every day thereafter —except Christmas Day — visitors can get up close and personal with the thousands of wapiti who call the elk refuge home each winter. You will see other wildlife as well, such as foxes, bald eagles and coyotes. Rides are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Each red sleigh can carry up to 16 people. There are cushioned benches to sit on although you may want to bring a warm blanket to drape over your legs; dress warmly and bring your camera. Tickets are sold from a white trailer in the parking lot at the Jackson Hole Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center at 532 North Cache St., and shuttles to the refuge leave every 20 to 30 minutes. (Read More)
Jolly Old St. Nick holds court in the StageStop Building on Town Square every night starting December 16th, from 5 to 7 p.m. until Christmas Eve, when he then needs to depart to fly around the world.
Generations of Jackson families and frequent travelers have pictures taken with Santa during "Santa on the Square." Christmas music, hot chocolate and cookies are all available.
You can also communicate with Old St. Nick through his direct mailbox outside the Stage Stop building. Children and adults alike can bring their Christmas wishes to Jackson, drop them in the big, red mailbox, and sleep well knowing that they'll go to The North Pole with fast, 24-hour shipping. If you want to hear back from Santa, be sure to include a return address with your letter.
Santa Claus will also be dropping by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort — he is scheduled to rappel out of the Aerial Tram! — on Christmas Eve at 4:30 p.m. In addition, kids can skate with Santa at the Village Commons Rink on the 24th, from 3 to 4 p.m. And on Christmas Day, you and the kids can even ski with the big man in red on Teewinot between 10 a.m. and Noon. Look for him near the base of the gondolas and on Teewinot around 10 and afterward on Casper and Apres Vous.
Meet Snow King’s Santa on Christmas Day. He will be riding the lifts from 9 to 11 a.m. in the morning and hitting King Tubes from Noon to 2.
Do Some Last-Minute Gift Shopping!
Check out Jackson’s amazing list of locally-owned shops that are filled with curated collections of treasures that include everything from one-of-a-kind art to T-shirts for the kids. There are jeans and cowboy boots for all, or if you’re game, go for the locally crafted jewelry or a chic handcrafted cowboy hat. Most shops are owned by local characters or informed local outdoor experts who will help you choose something great as they share a love for Jackson Hole.
We suggest shopping local, buying local at Teton Mountaineering, MADE, Belle Cose, JD High Country Outfitters, Skinny Skis, Valley Bookstore, Workshop, Two Grey Hills, and New West Knifeworks. You can also pick up 2023's "Best Ski Gloves"—according to CNN Underscored— from homegrown company Give'r. The honored gloves are Give'r's 4-Season Gloves, available on its website and in MADE and New West Knifeworks. Instant Joy ... Snake River Roastiong Co. "Jackson Hole-iday Bundle" Celebrate the essence of Jackson Hole and the spirit of adventure with their coffee gifts—that's crafted to kindle joy! e-gift cards and more here.
Hanukkah begins this year at sundown on Thursday, December 7th and continues through Friday, December 15th. Here's how to celebrate the Festival of Lights in and around Jackson Hole.
The famous Jackson Hole Playhouse—named one of the "Top Attractions in Jackson Hole" by TripAdvisor—will present its annual Christmas show from December 14th through January 6, 2024; no shows on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, however. The dinner theater's musical comedy offering for the holidays is called "Christmas at the Playhouse."
Tickets for dinner and the show in the Playhouse's Saddle Rock Saloon are $105 for adults, $85 for children ages 13 to 17, and $65 for children ages 5 to 12. The show only (i.e. no dinner) costs $50 for adults, $40 for youth and $30 for children; tickets for the show only are available the day of the performance. Call the box office at 307-733-6994 between noon and 4 p.m. MST, or visit jhplayhouse.com.
Cathedral Voices Chamber presents its free "Sounds of the Season" concert at The Center for the Arts Theater on December 17th at 4 p.m.
The Silver Dollar Showroom at The Wort Hotel is the go-to venue for a few special holiday events featuring music from a couple of iconic Jackson Hole bands and musicians. "Old Tyme Christmas," presented by the Jackson Hole Historical Society, will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on December 17th. Cookies, cocoa and holiday drink specials will be available. "Holiday Cocktails and Music with Tasha & The Goodfellows" will be held from 7:30 to 11 p.m. on December 21st. No cover. Must be 21+ for this event. On Christmas Eve, come to the "Naughty or Nice Christmas Party" at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar—holiday pajamas, sweaters and costumes are encouraged— and Naughty or Nice drink specials will be available.
The Jackson Hole Community Band's Free Winter Holiday Concert will be held at 7 p.m. on December 16th at the Center for the Arts.
"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," featuring a cast of Broadway and cabaret performers, will be presented on December 20th by the Grand Teton Music Festival. This family-friendly concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available here.
New Year's Eve Celebrations will happen at both the Silver Dollar Showroom in the Wort Hotel and the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
New Year’s Eve: ‘Parades’ and Pyrotechnics
Start your New Year’s Eve off in an amazing way by viewing a mountain torchlight parade at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain or Grand Targhee. Each parade is followed up by an equally awe-inspiring fireworks display.
Snow King hosts the oldest, longest-running citizen torchlight parade in the country. For more than 50 years, intrepid, expert Jackson Hole skiers have ridden to the top of the mountain and then—torches in hand—made their way slowly down the Town Hill in dramatic, fiery fashion.
The parade starts at 6:15 p.m. and the fireworks follow at 7.
Over in Teton Village, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is set to host a “Glow Worm Parade” at 5:30 p.m. for children up to age 14. Glow sticks substitute for torchlights as the kids traverse down the Eagles Nest run from the top of the new Sweetwater Gondola. Around 6 p.m. the resort’s employees and guests will treat revelers to their traditional torchlight procession on Apres-Vous, with a fireworks show to follow over the Village's parking lot, facing Sleeping Indian.
Over in Alta, Wyoming, at Grand Targhee Resort, the Kid’s Glowstick Parade starts the New Year’s Eve fun off at 4:30 p.m. The adult’s torchlight event fires up at 5:30. Fireworks follow at 6:15.
Bonus Holiday Fun
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is hosting its annual WinterFest of free family-friendly apres-ski events during Christmas week.
• Free skating on the Teton Village ice rink will be on December 22nd and 26th from 3:30 to 5 p.m., featuring free skate rentals.
• On December 23rd from 4 to 6 p.m. a cookie decorating and movie event will be offered at RPK3, located at the tram dock. Enjoy a holiday movie in the background while decorating some freshly made sugar cookies.
• On December 27th treat the kids to Snow Cats & Avalanche Dogs at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's Kid's Ranch, from 4-5 p.m., for a behind-the-scenes look at the resort's coolest stuff. Meet an avalanche dog and handler and take a tour of a snowcat. Free!
• Download the JH Insider app to participate in JHMR's WinterFest Scavenger Hunt on December 28th! A clue will drop at 10 a.m. for a chance to find elves hidden throughout the ski area—a prize can be redeemed at Jackson Hole Sports or Teton Village Sports.
• December 29th features a Sledding Evening from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for some mellow sledding on sleds provided by JHMR. Glide across the slope on a slow pitch between Bridger and Sweetwater. The sled area will be roped off for this one-night event.
• On December 30th, participate in the Snowball Toss. Test your skills, hone your eye and try your best to aim your snowball at the various targets across an area in the roped-off space.
The annual "GlowNights" begin in Teton Village and at the Center for the Arts on December 22nd. This annual installation is presented by JH Public Art; free admission daily until 10 p.m. with celebration events at each location. - jhpublicart.org
On Christmas Day, partake in a very special "Carols and Candlelight" event with the view of a lifetime in the historic and rustic Chapel of the Transfiguration in Grand Teton National Park.
Snow King Resort hotel has some holiday fun activities on tap for children staying there with their parents: ornament and cookie decorating; writing letters to Santa; holiday movie nights in their PJ’s; sipping hot cocoa and roasting s’mores; a visit from Old St. Nick himself; holiday-themed scavenger hunts and more.