Loon Mountain Santa

Santa is scheduled to be making gondola laps and handing out candy canes this weekend at Loon Mountain Resort.

Meghan McCarthy McPhaul's Winter Notes sig

Ah, Christmastime — the lights, the carols, the presents. The skiing! That’s right, Christmas is for snow sports, and there are plenty of events over the next two holiday weeks to entice snow-lovers outside, from tree lightings and torchlight parades to nighttime snowshoe outings and New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Here’s a rundown of holiday happenings at ski areas around the state:

This Saturday and Sunday, Santa will take a break from the hustle and bustle of the North Pole to make some runs at Loon Mountain. Everyone’s favorite Jolly Old Elf will be lapping trails off the gondola from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.

Bretton Woods kicks off a season of correlated adult and kid après-ski parties Saturday, with grownups invited to gather from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Slopeside Pub & Restaurant in the base lodge. At the same time, kids aged 4-12 can pop upstairs to the Mount Washington View Room for fun activities and treats. This scene repeats through the holiday weeks, with different fun themes for kids each afternoon through Dec. 31. (www.brettonwoods.com.)

Re-use your best duds from that ugly sweater party at Waterville Valley on Saturday, where the first 100 ugly sweater wearers at the Valley Run lift at 9:30 a.m. will receive a voucher for a future ski day at Waterville. Participants will load the lift as a group and ski together down Valley Run in an Ugly Sweater Parade. Feel free to keep your ugly sweater on for après ski (www.waterville.com).

Ski Hearth Farm in Sugar Hill hosts a Winter Solstice Après party and full moon tours — by cross-country ski or snowshoe — on Saturday. The bonfire will be roaring for the après piece from 4 to 7 p.m. Reservations are recommended for the snowshoe tour led by a naturalist and the moonlight (and solar light-lit) ski through the fields; both begin at 5:30 p.m. Call 823-5560 for more info and reservations.

On Sunday, Ragged Mountain Resort hosts The Squared Up Rail Jam with DJ Scrumptious for snowboarders in an open format, with music — and an $800 cash purse up for grabs. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m., and the jam goes off at noon. For information, visit www.raggedmountainresort.com.

Next week

Santa makes another appearance on Christmas Eve at Gunstock Mountain, where he’ll be cruising the slopes during his lunch break, from noon to 1 p.m. Visit www.gunstock.com.

Waterville Valley hosts a candlelight Christmas Eve service in Town Square from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Loon Mountain Ministry will host a service that evening as well, with cookies and hot drinks at 6:30 p.m., followed by the annual tree lighting ceremony at 6:45 p.m. and the service at 7 p.m. Visit www.loonmtn.com

If you’re looking for a place to ski Christmas day between opening presents and tucking in to Christmas dinner, you have options. Ski areas spinning the lifts that day include Attitash, Cranmore, Loon, Sunapee, Gunstock, Bretton Woods, Ragged Mountain, and Waterville.

Thursday, Dec. 27 marks the start of Christmas Week Cranapalooza at Cranmore Mountain Resort, with family-friendly games, music, and activities — plus s’mores — in Schneider Square from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. each day through Dec. 31 (www.cranmore.com).


Two storms this week are expected to give a boost to New Hampshire ski areas.

Next weekend

For all those up-hillers out there, mark the calendar for Friday, Dec. 28, when this season’s Friday Night Lights series kicks off at Black Mountain. The course opens at 6 p.m., with a 7 p.m. mass start for skiers who want to race the clock – and each other. (www.blackmt.com/events.)

Also opening for the season on the 28th is Crotched Mountain’s Midnight Madness, where the lifts spin from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. — that’s right, all through the night — and there’s live entertainment at the Onset Pub. Visit www.crotchedmtn.com.

If snowtubing is more your thing, check out King Pine’s torchlight snowtubing from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 28 (www.kingpine.com). And for the kids — and the parents who need a breather — Loon hosts Kids’ Night Out for children aged 6-12, with pizza, ice skating, ziplining, and other fun activities at the Adventure Center from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

On Saturday, Dec. 29, Loon hosts the Burton Qualifiers snowboard tour, with snowboarders competing in a judged, jam-style contest. Entry is free, and the event is definitely spectator-friendly.

That evening, McIntyre has its Race in the New Year from 3 to 5 p.m. (www.mcintyreskiarea.com), and Great Glen Trails hosts its first guided evening snowshoe tour of the winter, led by an Appalachian Mountain Club naturalist. To make reservations for the tour, which begins at 7:30 p.m., call 466-3988.

Also that evening, Cannon Mountain celebrates its 80th anniversary a Family Fun Night. The Huckerbrook Mini Park and handletow will be open under the lights from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., entertainment for kids and adults, and fireworks at 6:30 p.m. Visit www.cannonmt.com.

Cranmore fireworks

New Year’s Eve fireworks light up the sky over Cranmore’s South Slope.

New Year’s Eve

Ski areas around the state will welcome 2019 with an array of activities on Monday, Dec. 31.

Attitash plans fireworks for 6:30 p.m. Waterville Valley will have fireworks over Corcoran Pond at 7:30 p.m. Sunapee sets off fireworks at 9 p.m. And King Pine will say so long to 2018 with music, s’mores around the campfire, and ice skating from 4 to 9 p.m., a torchlight parade beginning at 9 p.m. and fireworks following that.

Cranmore steps up the last-day-of-the-year Cranapalooza celebration with live music from 3 to 6 p.m. and fireworks at 6 p.m.

Gunstock offers skiing and snowboarding, snowtubing and mountain coaster rides from 3 to 11 p.m., with adult and kid celebrations in the lodges through the evening, and midnight fireworks.

At Pats Peak, the New Year’s in Motion party starts at 6 p.m., and the slopes are open until 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve at Pats also features a Monte Carlo raffle, live music, a comedy show, and great food. There will be a champagne toast at 11:45 p.m., with fireworks at midnight. Visit www.patspeak.com.

Winter Notes is published on Fridays during ski season. Contact Meghan McCarthy McPhaul at meghan@meghanmcphaul.com.