6 Ways to Experience Whistler’s Shoulder Season

Mention Whistler, and most people will think of winter: pow-filled days exploring the varied terrain on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Some people might think of Whistler’s epic summers: the sun, the lakes, the downhill mountain biking, and the back-to-back sporting competitions, festivals and concerts that take place throughout the season. But very rarely will you hear anyone gushing about autumn in Whistler. With mountain biking season over and the ski season yet to start, what is there to do in the sleepy shoulder season?

As it turns out, there are quite a few ways to keep busy while waiting for the mountain to open. Here are six ways to experience Whistler in its downtime.

Savor the Local Fare
As an international tourist destination, Whistler boasts some mighty fine dining establishments. They’ve got all the stars, diamonds, awards and accolades that a restaurant could hope for. Sampling food from these dining rooms is typically reserved for special occasions or for the very wealthy. Not so during shoulder season.

To fill their otherwise empty tables, the top restaurants in town offer some very appetizing promotions. Most restaurants, including big players like Araxi, the Bearfoot Bistro and the Rim Rock Café, offer fixed price multi-course options. So go ahead—eat like a king without breaking the bank.

Seek Inspiration from the Silver Screen
In a town full of snow-enthusiasts like Whistler, the excitement for the upcoming ski season is palpable. Share the stoke with your fellow shredders by hitting up the latest ski film releases. Some events are full-blown affairs, like the world premiere of the local Sherpas Cinema’s highly anticipated All.I.Can follow-up film, Into the Mind. The Sherpas are known for innovation, and this premiere will bring out all the big names in the ski and snowboard industry.

This October, for the first time in its history, The International Freeski Festival (iF3) will be taking place in Whistler, offering multiple screenings of the season’s latest snow flicks. If you prefer watching ski movies with a pint of beer in one hand and some chicken wings in the other, hit up the local watering holes. TV screens are plastered with ski films, and you won’t be able to look away.

Do a Little Shopping
Your snow kit has been in hiding for months now. It’s time to pull it all out and take inventory: what upgrades are you making for the upcoming season?

Whistler Blackcomb hosts its Turkey Sale over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, October 12 to 14. Just about every brand and equipment type under the sun is available at this blowout sale. Expect endless line ups and coats flying through the air, all in the name of outrageous savings on last year’s models. This sale is NOT overrated.

Celebrate Good Food and Wine
Cornucopia is Whistler’s celebration of wine and food, bringing out the gleeful glutton in us all. This festival is so popular that it has been expanded to a ten day format this year, taking place November 7 to 17.

Enjoy tastings, competitions, meals, seminars and parties throughout the ten days. Events include “Feng Shui: the Art of the Kitchen”; “All You Need is Cheese”, and “Real Men Drink Rosés”.  Attendees will be so engrossed in the events that they won’t even notice that it’s pouring outside (but snowing on top of the mountains!).

Become a Film Critique
Sure, it’s not quite as big as Sundance, but the Whistler Film Festival is getting bigger and better with every passing year. Now in its 13th iteration, the Film Festival showcases top films from Canada and around the world over the first weekend in December.

Last year’s event drew more than 10,000 attendees and a slew of celebrities who partook in the annual Celebrity Challenge ski race (when in Rome, as they say). The festival includes 90 film screenings (with more than half the content being Canadian), with eight awards of distinction being offered to the best of the best.

Live the Adventures
Understandably, winter visitors are so preoccupied by the glorious snow on the mountains that they often gloss over some of the other activities available in Whistler.

Whistler truly is an adventure destination. Did you know that the world’s longest zip line is found in Whistler? Or that the Whistler Sliding Centre is one of only 16 tracks worldwide for skeleton, bobsled and luge (and yes, you can try your hand at a sliding sport).

From ATVing to bungee jumping to treetop hikes, Whistler offers an incredible assortment of activities that can be done year-round—and best of all, there are often off-season pricing specials, guaranteeing the most bang for your buck.