Great Shopping, Dining, Snowsports and Fireworks

By Eva Potter

Snow has been sparse this year, but Ellicottville’s famous holiday cheer has been abundant. Just stroll the village sidewalks and admire storefronts decked out holiday-style, stop in for some wine or a flight of beer at a local establishment, shop for unique winter gear and gifts, or book a massage at one of the many spas. If Mother Nature responds to the local snow dance, skiers and boarders can look forward to a good time on the slopes.

Holiday Valley Resort has been named the No. 3 Best Winter Resort in the East this year by readers of SKI magazine. Once winter gets its head in the game, you can head to the mountain for skiing, or boarding, and don’t forget to take a thrilling mountain coaster ride through the snowy forest near Tannenbaum slope while you’re there. Your family will love the many tubing lanes at Holiday Valley Tubing Park, located just a few minutes from the village. The snowmakers are standing by to blanket the slopes with the fluffy white stuff when the temperature cooperates.

The largest private ski area in the U.S., HoliMont, is located in Ellicottville, too, and they’ve been busy making plans to bring winter to their members. Once they are open weekdays, the public can purchase day passes and enjoy a change of pace on the slopes. Think snow!

The area’s miles of crisscrossing snowmobile trails are scheduled to open Dec. 23, weather permitting. For details about snowmobile rental and trails maps, call (800) 331-0534 for a free brochure or visit www.enchantedmountains.com for more information.

On Dec. 26, head to Holiday Valley for Santa Jam at the base of Mardi Gras starting at 11 a.m. This event is open to skiers and boarders, open format. It will be a fun day of handrails, music and delicious hot dogs for only $5. Santa/elf/reindeer costumes and ugly Christmas sweaters encouraged but not required. Stay for the free giveaways, best trick and best costume awards. Helmets are required and, if you’re under age 18, you’ll need a parent’s signature. You can register that morning inside the Resort Services building starting at 9 a.m.

New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be special without the annual, family-friendly New Year’s Eve party at Holiday Valley Lodge on Dec. 31. The celebration starts at 8:30 with a ventriloquist, followed by DJ entertainment and more. Cindy’s chairlift plans to remain open for an extended hour of skiing, after which the Holiday Valley Mountain Crew will wow spectators with their annual grooming machine parade on Cindy’s. You can even join the torchlight parade, if you’re an intermediate or better skilled skier. Then say good-bye to 2015 while watching a spectacular fireworks show starting before midnight. Admission to the party is free. The evening will also feature drinks, food specials and non-alcoholic mocktails for the younger crowd. Party hats, glow sticks and noisemakers add to the fun. For a detailed schedule, please see page 7.

If you’re in the mood for some fresh air, head to Allegany State Park on Jan. 1, 2016, for a First Day Hike. Suit up and head to the Summit Hill area for a self-guided hike on the Red House side of the park. The off-trail walk is only about two miles long and easy to moderate in intensity with some minor inclines and declines. Just follow the old mountain bike trail to Stone Tower and make a loop back along the ridge to the parking area. There’s even a scavenger hunt along the way. The event runs from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and you can pick up your trail map and guide in the Summit Warming Hut, and be sure to dress for the weather. For more information, visit www.nysparks.com/events.

There’s so much more happening in and around Ellicottville this winter and you won’t want to miss any of it. For a more detailed event listing, check out the gloss wrap on this week’s paper, as well as the weekly calendar on the cover. You can also pick up a free 2016 Visitors Guide and Directory where the paper is found in EVL.