Around the Mountains

The Presidents’ Week school holiday is always the prime week for a winter vacation. Ski resorts gear up for a busy week and usually schedule special events to keep the crowd entertained. It’s a time to get away for a few days or more, not just for a day trip.

In addition to Berkshire East (see related sidebar), there are lots of choices of winter destinations in the Berkshire’s. Butternut and Catamount ski areas near Great Barrington have plenty of trails to keep everyone happy skiing or snowboarding. Butternut also offers snow tubing.

A little further north, Bousquet and Jiminy Peak round out Berkshire County’s offerings. Scattered around are numerous options for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

There are all sorts of lodging choices in the region, from famous inns like the Red Lion in Stockbridge to motels and B&Bs. An option would be to have one of these as a base and do a Berkshire sampler. Some ski and stay packages are available if you book ahead.

Up in Vermont, Mount Snow has some events that will be fun for snowboarders in the terrain park. They will set up a big airbag at the Carinthia area Friday to Monday. Get big air with a soft landing. Mount Snow is hosting the Grommet Jam Finals for kids age 12 and under on Monday, the Nixon Knockout Rail Jam on Wednesday and the DC Pop-up Jam on Friday. There will be free family activities all week long in the Main Base Area including scavenger hunts, face painting, arts and crafts and snow sculpting.

Stratton in Vermont has events planned all week. Parent/child races, a scavenger hunt, live music and games all lead up to a full-moon tube park party on the 23rd. There will also be snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating and dogsled rides. Bromley, Vermont has live music every evening throughout the week.

Magic Mountain’s holiday weekend starts with apres-ski on Saturday with over $2,000 in prizes. It’s a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. The Black Line Tavern will rock later that night. There is a Winterfest celebration the following Saturday with the Black Magic Extreme Challenge. (No gates…ski fast!) Magic’s torchlight parade heads down the mountain at 8 p.m. Then there is a fireworks celebration in front of the lodge and a live band until midnight.

On Sunday the 17th, Okemo will have a torchlight parade of skiers and riders followed by a fireworks display. If you like pyrotechnics, you can follow the fireworks around Vermont all week. On Wednesday, Stowe comes alive with mountain fireworks and a torchlight parade. At Smuggler’s Notch there will be fireworks and a torchlight parade on Thursday. There will also be an on-snow carnival that day featuring live music, face painting, a bonfire and outdoor barbecue.

Jay Peak in northern Vermont is known for its abundance of snow. But as an escape from the cold, the resort put in a huge indoor water park. There is a wave machine, lazy river, water slides and lots more.

Sugarbush will feature live music, fireworks and mountain adventures with ski video legend John Egan. There is tubing at Killington and there will be snow cat-drawn sleigh rides for the holiday week.

New Hampshire’s Sunapee will host the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge on Tuesday the 19th. It is an all-day event with a race, prizes and awards party. Waterville Valley has a fireworks show and other events on tap for Saturday the 16th.

Loon Mountain will light up the park from Thursday through Saturday during the holiday week. There will be special features in the park during Fluorescent Nights.

Over in Maine, Sunday River will have night skiing, zipline tours, ice skating, snowshoeing and fireworks. A ski-and-stay special is offered.

On the subject of specials, Liftopia sells discounted tickets. There are deals to be had, but not at the rates for non-holiday weeks.

Back closer to home, Blandford Ski Area is an affordable family area. It will be open every day during the holiday week. There will be night skiing Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. There is live music on Friday and the annual Jamboree takes place on Saturday the 23rd. There will be a live band, dinner and torchlight parade.

Holiday weeks at ski areas can be busy but lots of fun. Plan ahead and get an early start. There have been stories of rental shops running out of product and parking lots filling up. If you really want to avoid the crowds, head up over the border to Canada. They don’t celebrate Presidents’ Week.•

Author: Bob Weiss

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