It’s primetime in Whistler. The holidays have swept through and left a massive snowstorm in their wake. At the time of writing, there’s been 540cm of snow so far this season, leaving a base depth of 238cm. 41cm have fallen in the last 12 hours and more is on the forecast.
All that’s to say if you’re visiting Whistler in January, you’re probably here to ski or snowboard. There’s not much in the way of events this January, so we think it’s the perfect month to experience Whistler for what makes it famous – world class skiing and snowboarding and the culture that surrounds them.
A noteworthy event is the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, January 20-27, 2019. One of North America’s biggest LGBTQI ski festivals returns this January for a week of snow sports, parties, and cultural events. Some highlights include the Annual Pride Ski Parade, the Splash Indoor Pool Party, and Whistler Pride’s main event, Snowball with DJ Abel.
If photography is your thing, don’t miss the Deep Winter Photo Challenge on January 11th. Invited photographers have 72 hours to capture and edit their best action shots from the mountain into a short slideshow for attendees to enjoy, with a winner being crowned at the end of the night.
For an excellent start to your day on the hill, check out Fresh Tracks Mountaintop Breakfast. With the purchase of a Fresh Tracks ticket (about $20) you can board the Whistler Village gondola early and enjoy an epic mountaintop breakfast before getting the first turns of the day. Local tip: bring ziplock bags for “pocket bacon” to enjoy later :p
For heavy snowfall days, get to the gondola early and expect to see some BIG lineups after the first couple runs. Once the mountain starts getting tracked out, the trees are a good spot to look for hidden powder stashes, but it’s strongly advised to keep a close group in case anybody gets stuck. Lift openings are uncertain on powder days but if you’re lucky enough to get to an alpine lift just as it opens, you’re likely in for one of the best experiences of your life.
If conditions are sunny and clear – what we fondly refer to as “bluebird” days – you can go in search of surreal photo opportunities. The Symphony/Flute area on Whistler and the 7th Heaven area on Blackcomb are especially picturesque. If you’re feeling brave, bluebird days are a great opportunity to check out Blackcomb’s world famous terrain park (intermediate and advanced riders only). For a more all-mountain freestyle experience, venture far skiers right off 7th Heaven to the area known as “Booterville” but expect to do some hiking.
After a long day on the hill, you might want to enjoy Whistler’s famous après scene. Almost every bar and restaurant in the village offers some sort of happy hour during the late afternoon or early evening. Prices, atmosphere, and food and drink offerings vary greatly from place to place. Here are some of our recommendations, in no particular order:
- Big, loud, and impossible to miss, Longhorn Saloon is worth experiencing but you’ll need to go early to secure a seat and the food and drinks are pricey.
- Tucked around the corner, beside the Excalibur Gondola, is Dubh Linn Gate, a locals’ favourite offering live music, craft beers, and a boisterous atmosphere. Cheap pints 5-7pm.
- Close to Skiers Plaza on the Village Stroll, a locals’ favourite is Crystal Lounge, a laidback venue offering nightly entertainment and a 12-3pm happy hour with cheap drinks and 35 cent chicken wings.
- Just around the corner from the Village Square is another local’s favourite with a relaxed atmosphere. Tapley’s Pub has daily specials and generous food portions, as well as multiple dart boards for visitors to enjoy.
- Located in the Village Common, Earls 3-5pm happy hour is popular because of its unique food and drink offerings at various discounted price points. The lounge area makes for an extra comfortable après.
- In Town Plaza, El Furniture Warehouse is a popular spot due to its hip atmosphere and $5.95 price for all food items. Their drinks are great but with the food, you typically get what you pay for so keep the expectations low and expect to order two items.
- Brewhouse in Olympic Plaza is pricey but often worth it. Home-brewed and local craft beers accompany delicious food items in a casual upscale environment.
- In the North Village, Pizzeria Antico (a few steps away from the Summit Lodge Whistler) is a hidden gem with $4 BC craft beer and $8 margherita pizza from 3-5pm.
- In Creekside, we recommend Dusty’s (iconic spot beside the gondola), Roland’s (relaxed pub that locals love), and Creekbread (organic wood fired pizza – very popular spot).
- Finally, in the Upper Village, stop by Merlin’s for a lively après or HandleBar for an après-focused menu of craft beer and savoury snacks.