CHRISTMAS GOOD TIMES... should not stoke any competitive spirit within us, and yet we can feel the fire inside, the fire to be the most festive. We want to have the best front door wreath, the tastiest of sugar cookies, and a roast to out-roast all other roasts on every holiday sideboard, everywhere. We can also take this good-natured competitive spirit elsewhere, during the season, especially when we attend events that are full of showmanship and pizzazz. Add to that a holiday event that has the most sublime setting, and all of a sudden we are chatting with our date or tablemates as to whether we're seated in the Prettiest Dining Room in the Entire State and Maybe the World. California is rife with elegant dining rooms, and many of them happen to be in our grandest hotels, and one of those grand hotels contains The Most Harry Potter-riffic Dining Room in All the Land. It's The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park, of course -- admit it, you've thought so, while dining there -- which makes it, again, the best-best place for the annual Bracebridge Dinners, which are as fairytale and fun as a magical book series about a boy wizard.
2014 DATES: Do you recall, way back, when tickets were doled out by lottery? No longer, of course, does that happen, meaning you can alight on whatever night suits you, if tickets remain. Dec. 13 is the first date for this year, and Christmas night is the last, and while not every evening between the two shall be Bracebridge'd-out, several will feature the dinner and doings. And those doings? Imagine attending a feast in a royal medieval hall, complete with theatrics and costumes and bedazzlements. Yes, "bedazzlements"; if we're going to compare The Ahwahnee's dining hall to Harry Potter's world, we're not going to leave this post without breaking out the word "bedazzlements" (we're only sorry we didn't use it sooner). The evening lasts for three and a half hours, the courses are plentiful, the crowd and actors are dressy, and the room is decorated in full-bore yuletide. Plus? There are stay-over packages, natch. December is nigh, lovers of ye olden times fun; why shouldn't you make merry in one of California's most stunning great halls?