It’s easy to see the main attraction that draws two million visitors to Whistler every year – the spectacular mountains…
However, Canada’s top winter resort has many activities to enjoy beyond skiing, from snowboarding and dog-sledding to sleigh rides, plus nightclubs and entertainment for après-ski relaxation. In the summer, the famous slopes come into their own yet again for mountain biking, and there are many other sports to try here too. On top of all this, the resort also has a busy program of festivals for visitors to enjoy. Here is a look at some of the major events staged in Whistler Blackcomb, but there are many more to choose from. The annual program really does include something for everyone, from sports fanatics to foodies.
Coming just before the winter season, Whistler’s food and drink spectacular in November is getting bigger and better every year. It now runs to 11 days, with a mouth-watering line-up of events designed to appeal to both budding gourmets and dedicated connoisseurs of fine food and wine. Top chefs and wine professionals stage seminars, workshops and receptions. The menu includes plenty of occasions with a party flavor. One of the most popular is the Gala Grand Tasting, spread over two nights, where you can sample wines from all over the world. There is also a Top 25 Gala giving the opportunity to savor the festival’s winning vintages, set off by cheeses. Free-to-attend events include a culinary contest for top chefs. As well as the fun elements, nutrition is also on the menu, with a series of seminars on healthy eating. Find out more…
Canadian films have been creating a lot of interest over the last few years, with a number of exciting new directors to watch. If you want to see the work of these rising talents, then Whistler Film Festival in December, is a must. As one of the country’s top film festivals, it attracts crowds of 10,000-plus each year, including directors and other members of the industry as well as film buffs. Running over five days, the festival features up to 90 Canadian and international films, with a number of prestigious awards being handed out. As well as a wide range of feature films, including documentaries, WFF screens several programs of short films and also has a prize for movies with a special focus on mountain culture.
Every April, towards the end of the ski season, Whistler plays host to Canada’s largest annual celebration of winter sports, the World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF). Highlights of the 10 days include the World Skiing Invitational, where the world’s leading skiers take part in breathtaking challenges such as the famous Big Air jump. The Shred Show’s arduous snowboarding contests is another sporting spectacular, and there is a chance to test out the latest winter sports equipment for yourself. Music also plays a leading role in the festival, with free concerts held every day, plus après parties, club and dance. Artistic and cultural events make another important contribution, with fashion shows, photography, films and urban art all included.
Held every July, Crankworx is a major 10-day festival of mountain biking which draws bikers from around the world. The event includes freeride races, challenges, slaloms and trials, and draws massive crowds of 150,000. The growth of Crankworx is just part of a successful campaign to attract more tourists to Whistler all the year round, with a whole range of smaller events also proving successful.
Visitors to Whistler during the resort’s long winter season will find that levels of snow can vary and this means it is important to keep an eye on the latest snow reports when planning activities. The resort receives an average of more than 1,170cm over the season with the all-time record snowfall having occurred in 1998, when an astonishing 1,693 cm fell. The winter season of 2010-11 came near that with 1,389cm – treating sports enthusiasts to a feast of activities as a result. The following winter was milder, but 2012-13 saw higher levels of snow returning, with the snowiest December in a decade treating skiers to a sporting feast.
Keeping a weather eye on the snow forecasts and reports helps visitors to decide when it is best to tackle a particular slope in order to make the most of their time in Whistler. Of course, to ensure winter sports safety, it is also important to be aware of the avalanche forecasts during a stay in the resort.
Winter sports and major festivals are only the start of Whistler’s attractions. All kinds of large and small-scale events are organized over the year, from farmers’ markets to a readers and writers’ festival, musical jam sessions, an iron man competition and much more, including activities aimed at children. It’s easy to see why visitor numbers to the resort are soaring as more people discover what is on offer here.
By Melissa Davidson
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