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Spring is in the Air! GO Fest Whistler Preview

Despite the fact that Whistler Blackcomb still boasts a 2.5 metre base and cumulative snowfall this winter of over 13 metres, the signs of a new season are beginning to show. Cherry blossoms line the streets of Vancouver, Whistler mountain has closed to prepare for the bike season, and dirt can once again be seen on the ground in the Whistler valley. This winter saw some epic snow days with metres of snow even falling in Squamish and Downtown Vancouver. But Spring is in the air and to mark the coming of this season, GO Fest Whistler is coming to town on May 19th with a celebration of all Whistler has to offer.

Now in its fourth year, GO Fest is Whistler’s Great Outdoors festival which celebrates Spring and the abundance of activities available in this mountain town. If you’ve never tried standup paddle boarding, trail running or sailing but want to give it a try, the festival puts on clinics and sessions in all these activities and more. But as well as providing opportunities to try out different active pursuits, the Festival also showcases film, arts and culture born from mountain sports with exhibitions and screenings throughout the Victoria Day long weekend.

I’ve taken part in GO Fest for the last three years and experienced how the festival has grown from its inception. Initially the festival was created to encourage families and the celebration of the outdoors into Whistler on the notorious May Long Weekend to combat the historical trend of violence and vandalism. Since then, the festival has grown into an entity into itself with a full three day program and businesses in the village jumping on board to create a family-friendly vibe to the weekend.

Having way to much fun in the dirt at last year’s GO Fest! (Author pictured left)


Some highlights to look out for this year will be:

The GoPro GoShow

This film competition is an annual favourite at GO Fest. This year, the competition will see six athletes compete for one grand prize of $2,000 and the title of becoming Whistler’s GoPro GoShow Champion. The goal of each short film is to capture the essence of May in Whistler showcasing experiences on snow, dirt and water, only using a GoPro to shoot the footage. Films are judged on numerous criteria, with comedy being a central element!

Check out an example of what to expect with professional skier Stan Rey’s submission from last year!

The event culminates at the GLC with a showing of each film and live judging.

When: Sunday, May 21st
Time: Doors open at 7PM, show starts at 8PM
Where: GLC Whistler

Go Sailing Clinics

Taking place on Whistler’s Alta Lake, learn how to sail in a 3.5 hour lesson with experienced instructors. No experience is necessary for this clinic and beautiful views of the lake, the Whistler Valley and the mountains are guaranteed. Life jackets are provided and participants should be 16+.

When: Saturday, May 20th and Sunday, May 21st
Time: 10am – 2pm
Where: 5678 Alta Lake Road (Parking available)
Register: http://whistlersailing.com/adult-programs/

Trail Serendipity with Ian MacNairn

Ian MacNairn is a professional ultrarunner and mountain athlete based in Calgary, Alberta. He has raced across Canada, the USA, Mexico, and Europe. He has won and podium-ed in numerous events from 8K to 193K. He is the record holder for numerous ultras and unsupported trail runs in Canada and abroad and is a two time ultrarunning National Champion.

In this talk/screening, Ian will share a story of an unexpected mountain-running adventure that he found himself in last summer while traveling and conducting fieldwork for his doctoral research in Europe. A must-attend for any aspiring or experienced trail runners or mountaineers!

When: Saturday, May 20th
Time: 2PM
Where: The North Face Store, Whistler
Cost: free!

WFF Adventure Film Series

WFF’s Adventure Film Series will feature seven film screenings plus a speaker series, photo competition and exhibition. Featuring 30 films from four countries, including 27 shorts and three features, and five conversations, WFF’s Adventure Film Series features an action packed program of seven screenings of the best outdoor films from around the world, complemented with five speakers who will cover aspects of mountain and adventure culture.

For the full-lineup and schedule of these shows, please see the GO Fest event listing: http://www.greatoutdoorsfest.com/gofest-arts/wff-adventure-film-series-line/

Whistler Valley Trail Run

With 5 KM and 10 KM options available and a fully marked course, this is the best time to explore the magical trails of Whistler’s lost lake. There will be pre- and post-run yoga in Rebagliati Park, as well as post-race refreshments and draw prizes! All ages can take part in the run, with all proceeds going to the Community Youth Foundation of Whistler.

When: Saturday, May 20th
Time: Pre-run yoga starts at 8:15AM, race starts at 9AM
Where: Rebagliati Park
Cost: $25
Register: https://raceroster.com/events/2017/12738/2017-whistler-valley-trail-run-5k-10k

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Get a feel for stand up paddle boarding, a sport that can either be a serene float across a beautiful lake, or a great core and arm workout if you want to push yourself! There are instructors on hand to give you some tips at the start, then once you have the hang of it you can explore the lake yourself!

When: Saturday, May 20th and Sunday, May 21st
Time: 9AM – 10AM and 10AM – 11AM
Where: Lakeside Park, 3375 Lakeside Road (parking available)
Cost: $15
Register: http://backroadswhistler.com/go-fest.html

Full Schedule

For the full schedule of events for the 2017 Whistler GO Fest, please see here: http://www.greatoutdoorsfest.com/schedule/

katharine millsKatharine Mills is a website designer, digital marketer and trail runner living in North Vancouver. Originally from the UK, she lived in Whistler for two years before making the move to the city. Compared to the UK, she thinks Canada has an incredible lifestyle, but terrible tea. Her favourite things are exploring the wilds of the BC backcountry, racing mountain bikers down the trails of North Vancouver, and Honey’s Doughnuts from Deep Cove.

May 1, 2017


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