Julie Hollist Terrill, director, Cache Valley Visitor’s Bureau

Hello friends! The happy holiday season is upon us, and before we dive right into our astounding array of Cache Valley’s festive activities, I’d like to take a moment to pay tribute to Thanksgiving, the seemingly invisible celebration somehow lost between the Halloween candy aisle and Christmas wrapping paper stuck on the same shelf. Think of something you’re grateful for in addition to green bean casserole and homemade orange rolls. Now fasten the seatbelts in your sleigh because it’s time to party!

Take a deep breath and get ready because we’ve got dozens of reasons to be even more thankful we live in Cache Valley during this time of year. Two long-time traditions happen the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

First is Novemberfest Arts and Crafts Faire at the Cache County Event Center. This jackpot for Christmas shopping has showcased mostly local wares for 40 years. You’re likely to find some unique treasures for everyone on your list.

Then, you absolutely must make your way to the Ellen Eccles Theatre for one of the 41st-annual Cache Valley Civic Ballet performances of The Nutcracker (November 24-25, 27). Tchaikovsky’s holiday spectacle comes to life in all its colorful glory with the help of 88 dancers and music performed by a live symphony orchestra.

That same Saturday (November 25), create a new tradition with friends and family by heading down to Center Street and the new Laub Plaza, where they will officially open this new community gathering place with ice skating, free concerts, and Santa. On Center Street, there will be food trucks, a Christmas market, more live music, a Christmas parade and tree-lighting, fireworks, and a free showing of Elf at the Utah Theatre. Don’t forget the unveiling of this year’s new giant candy ornaments in the windows of Bluebird Candy. Seriously, it’s going to feel like Hallmark exploded in downtown Logan!

Speaking of downtown, please support our local business owners wherever they may be located by shopping at their stores. One spot you might not have thought of is the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau Gift Shop in the historic courthouse. If you’re looking for anything Logan or Cache Valley, we’ve got it, including great gifts for locals and friends and family who have moved away.

Now that you’ve digested your turkey and leftovers, you’ll be fortified to jump into December with all sorts of heartwarming holiday options.

First, starting December 2, and through the end of the month, you can amaze yourself by viewing gingerbread masterpieces meticulously built and decorated as part of the Downtown Gingerbread Walk. You’re bound to enjoy Utah State University’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life held at the Caine Lyric Theatre on December 1-2 and 6-9. Grab something to eat downtown before the show and make it a night to remember. Totally charming.

Want something unique? Bundle up and go for a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride at the American West Heritage Center. The unobstructed views of the Wellsvilles are unparalleled, plus your experience ends with a delicious hot chocolate bar. Bring on the mini marshmallows!

We’ve got award-winning performers of the likes of Rhythm of the Dance, tenor Nathan Pacheco, the gentlemen trio Gentri, violinist Jenny Oaks Baker, the Peterson family straight from Branson, and so many more performing at Ellen Eccles Theatre in December. That’s not to mention the stunning American Festival Chorus with guest artist Kurt Bestor, a gallery walk, multiple Christmas gift markets, and so much more.

Want to get away from the hustle and bustle? Take a drive 15 miles from Cache Valley, up Blacksmith Fork Canyon, to view the elk that refuge there for the winter. Beginning December 1, sleigh rides are offered by Haviland’s Old West Adventures every weekend from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Jingle all the way through Logan and Cache Valley in your own backyard. Visit the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau and Gift Shop Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., call 435-755-1890, or log on to explorelogan.com for more information and things to do.