Autumn in Whistler is a uniquely wonderful time. It’s “shoulder season”, meaning a low-tourism period when the resort is uncrowded and local businesses lower their prices accordingly.
In Whistler, Autumn means rain. If you’re visiting in November, for example, expect it to rain about 50% of the time. The rainfall and dropping temperatures can be seen as a negative, however there is a wonderful tradeoff – compared to the high-tourism periods in summer and winter, in autumn it often feels like you’ve got the whole resort to yourself.
Plus, the rainy weather creates a silvery haze that illuminates Whistler’s scenic lakes, mountains, and towering evergreens in a stunning light. In other words, the rain can be really, really pretty, and super photogenic.
Additionally, accommodation is cheaper and many restaurants offer specials during this time. For many, autumn is an affordable time to experience a laidback version of Whistler where you can roam and dine as you please, without pesky crowds and wait times.
If you’re planning on visiting Whistler this Autumn, here are some of the events and activities you might enjoy:
Whistler Village Beer Festival
September 9 – 15
Technically a summer event but close enough to include, the Whistler Village Beer Festival involves hundreds of beers from the Sea to Sky and beyond. The main event takes place September 14th and 15th at Olympic Plaza.
Thanksgiving Long Weekend
October 11 – 14
Canadian Thanksgiving in Whistler means a number of things. First, the annual Turkey Sale brings the lowest prices of the year on a huge selection of ski, snowboard, and mountain gear. Second, Thanksgiving means the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and local golf courses are closing, so get out there while you can. It’s also the final weekend for the Whistler Farmers’ Market in the Upper Village. Finally, many local restaurants will be offering special Thanksgiving feasts.
Whistler Writers Festival
October 17 – 20
Writers and readers of all levels gather for a weekend of workshops, discussions, and other writing-focused events. The theme of this year’s festival is discourse.
Fungus Among Us
October 18 – 19
A two-day mushroom festival involving presentations and guided walks with mushroom experts. A great opportunity to learn about Whistler’s abundant fungi and to taste wild edible mushrooms. You could even discover a previously unknown species!
Whistler 50 Relay & Ultra
An all-inclusive marathon for runners of all abilities, set in the forested trails around Lost Lake. Participate in relay teams of 2, 4, or 8 people, running distances ranging from 10km to 50km, or run the newly added 50km solo marathon. Parties in the Village afterward.
November 7 – 17
The main event of autumn in Whistler, Cornucopia is an extravagant ten-day celebration of food and drink with dozens of dinners, tastings, workshops, parties and more.
Whistler Film Festival
December 4 – 8
A celebration of filmmaking with five days of screenings, awards, industry meetups, and celebrations, featuring a selection of up to 90 innovative films from Canada and abroad.
Viessmann Luge World Cup
December 13 – 14
Intense, high-speed action at the Whistler Sliding Centre. More than 100 athletes representing more than 20 countries will race down the track at speeds up to 130km/h.
One of the biggest perks of shoulder season are the specials offered by local restaurants. Though not as publicized as Whistler’s spring dining specials, autumn dining specials are definitely a thing. Last year, more than 20 restaurants participated including Araxi, Rim Rock, Quattro, Hy’s, Alta Bistro, Nagomi Sushi, Sidecut, Mexican Corner, Hunter Gather, Caramba, Sushi Village, and more.
This year’s dining specials will be announced as autumn approaches. To find out if a restaurant is offering a special, we recommend checking their website and social media accounts, or calling them directly.
Whistler Blackcomb Sightseeing
Until October 14th
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are literally what it’s all about. Ride the Gondola for easy access to incredible, sprawling views, mountaintop dining, and a vast network of hiking trails.
Note: the Whistler Village Gondola closes September 9th. From September 16 – October Whistler 14, Whistler Mountain can be accessed via the Blackcomb Gondola and PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola on weekends and holidays only.
Whistler is home to a quaint underground cinema with an attached restaurant, Three Below. From Sunday – Thursday, you can eat at Three Below and watch a movie afterward for only $23. Three Below recommends arriving at least 90 minutes before your movie.
From mid-November to mid-December, Squamish is home to a large population of wintering bald eagles which can be viewed from a number of scenic locations.
In autumn, bears are busy stuffing their bellies for the winter hibernation. There’s nothing cuter than a big, fat, fluffy bear before their winter sleep! Take a bear viewing tour, ride the gondola up the mountain or stroll the Valley Trail near grassy openings such as golf courses for your best chance of a sighting. But please respect the bears’ space – keep a safe distance, don’t yell or approach the bear, and definitely DO NOT feed them.
An autumn weekday is the ideal time to enjoy popular hikes such as Joffre Lakes that are typically crowded. In general, autumn offers gorgeous changing scenery and ideal temperatures for hiking.
Grab your photo-taking device of choice and capture the beauty that surrounds you, keeping an eye out for warm autumn colours.
Hint: rainy weather creates a lot of diffused light, which is excellent for portrait photography.
The lakes may have dropped below swimming temperature but you can still float. Imagine a canoe ride at dusk or dawn, gliding effortlessly through pristine glassy waters – who could resist?
Whistler is an angler’s dream, hosting a plethora of trout, salmon and other fish species. Fishing techniques vary depending on the location and time of year, but fly fishing is regarded as the best method. Guided tours and rental gear are available if needed; if heading out without a guide, be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations first.
Whistler’s world-famous Bike Park is open until October 14th and other trails can be ridden as long as weather permits. For a leisurely cruise, explore Whistler’s lakes, parks, and neighbourhoods via the Valley Trail.
With a summer of activities behind you and a winter of activities to come, autumn is the perfect time to limber up and find balance and comfort in your body. Your ski legs will thank you later.
Mushroom picking is at its best in October but many species can be found as early as mid-summer. Whistler is home to an almost overwhelming number of mushroom varieties, many of them edible. For expert guidance with mushroom foraging, join the Fungus Among Us festival on October 18th and 19th.
Whistler’s scenery lends itself spectacularly to a number of award-winning golf courses, designed by renowned players and architects including Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Arnold Palmer and Robert Cupp. The autumn golf season is brief, however, typically ending around Thanksgiving Weekend in October.
Rejuvenate at one of Whistler’s most popular destinations, the Scandinave Spa – a sprawling outdoor terrace of hot and cold baths, steam rooms and saunas, massage rooms and more. Or experience North America’s only authentic Javanese spa, the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa at the Summit Lodge Whistler.