This time of year, there’s only one place to be in Whistler: outdoors.
Whether you’re canoeing down the River of Golden Dreams, kicking up dirt on the trails, or squeezing in those last few days of skiing, the fresh mountain air beckons—and if you’re sitting indoors, you’re missing out.
This time of year used to be known as shoulder season. Despite the variety of activities that you can do throughout Whistler’s spring season, things were traditionally pretty quiet around town. Something was missing to bridge the period that comes after the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, but before the official start of summer.
Last year, that gap was filled with the first annual Great Outdoors Fest (or GO Fest, as most people call it). Falling on the May long weekend, GO Fest celebrated the sport, sound, sights, and spirit of the season through concerts, contest, tournaments, and activities.
GO Fest is back, and it’s just around the corner. From May 15 to May 18, Whistler will once again come alive with all sorts of activities celebrating the best of the season. Here are a few highlights that you will want to check out.
The Great Snow Earth Water Race
Whether you’re participating or just cheering on others, you don’t want to miss the infamous Great Snow Earth Water Race, taking place on Sunday, May 17. This relay race involves six stages, each representing a favourite springtime sport. Follow teams as they ski tour, downhill ski or snowboard, downhill mountain bike, run, canoe, and cross country bike their way through town.
Witness Whistler Village as it comes alive every night with the GO Fest concert experience. The lineup is yet to be announced, but last year’s shows offered something for just about everyone. Different bands will hit the stage every night, so make a point of checking it out each night of the festival.
Want to discover a new favourite Whistler springtime activity? Check out GO Fest’s demos, taking place throughout the weekend at venues across town. Try your hand at fish casting or take a stand up paddleboard for a swim. Test your golf skills, or learn the basics of tennis.
Watch a Movie
GO Fest’s film component is the only time you’re encouraged to be indoors during the festival—and it’s only because you’ll be watching other people accomplish incredible things outdoors. Head to Millennium Place to check out screenings of outdoor adventure films like Sunshine Superman, The Search for Freedom, Dog Days of Winter, and more.
If you’ve ever skied in the spring months, you know that the best way to describe the heavy, grainy sand is quite simply “slush”. Mix it with a pool of water, and you’ve got yourself the Great Slush Cup. On Monday, May 18 (the last day of the season!), head up Whistler Mountain to watch skiers and snowboarders—many in costume—glide their way across (and occasionally into) a makeshift slush lake. It’s a Gaper Day tradition, and indeed one of the highlights of spring.
Many GO Fest events are free, but some require tickets or have entry fees. Learn more about the schedule, costs, and other details at the GO Fest website. Now, go play outside!