While there are no queer bars in Whistler yet, this Canadian ski town has earned its inclusivity credentials thanks to its welcoming, safe and fun atmosphere.
Whistler has been hosting its own Pride and Ski Festival for almost 27 years and Whistler Pride 2019 is set to be the biggest yet. Described as the number one gay winter event in the world, there’s a huge selection of entertainment and glorious mountain fun on offer. Between January 20th-27th expect thousands from across the world to descend upon Whistler. But don’t forget too, that Whistler is the ideal inclusive destination for a vacation at any time of year. Here’s our essential guide.
- Comedy and Game Nights: Expect top comedians to get to the stage for the famous Wednesday comedy night and post-comedy lounge. Whistler Pride 2018 was graced with Emmy and Grammy-nominated comedian Margaret Cho. Game Nights, such as group games of Cards Against Humanity, are also features of this raucous weekend.
- Wellness: If you weren’t already familiar with the spas in Whistler, it’s time you heard about them! Pride visitors usually have the chance to relax to DJ music with a glass of wine or beer during an exclusive nighttime opening in the peaceful spa’s settings. During summer, many spas have reduced pass fees – just in case you fancy returning out of season.
- Dance and Music: Top DJs in some of Whistler’s best bars and clubs will provide night-time entertainment throughout the week of Pride and throughout the year. The Whistler Pride line-up always features a highly anticipated Friday Furrocious Party and Saturday Snowball Party.
- Skiing and riding: Whistler is one of the world’s leading ski and snowboard destinations so you can expect world-class snow sports during Pride and beyond. The slopes are a great way to meet new people or enjoy fun times with your loved one.
In celebration of the diverse LGBTQI communities of Whistler, inclusivity in general, and Whistler Pride’s 25th anniversary two Rainbow Crosswalks were installed in fall 2017. They can be found on Main Street in front of and near the library.
These brightly-colored crosswalks were instigated by Whistler Pride’s executive director and CEO Dean Nelson who wanted people, and especially youth, to have a visual reminder that diversity is welcomed, is celebrated and is central to the community.
Whilst rainbow crosswalks can be found elsewhere in BC, for example along Davie Street in Vancouver, Whistler is the first ski resort in BC to feature such an urban design improvement.
For the opening of the crosswalks in September 2017, representatives from the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society performed a traditional Two Spirit First Nations down ceremony. This involved the releasing of handfuls of down feathers in a representation of peace, love and unity.
WHERE TO STAY
As the host hotel for Whistler Pride 2019, Aava is a superb choice of accommodation for your trip to Whistler. Located in the Village, Aava is decked with the standard trimmings of a luxurious Whistler hotel: pool, hot tub and sauna. A variety of room sizes- suitable for the needs of a single traveller, small families, and large groups- means that Aava can cater to the needs of all different group types.
Don’t let the name fool you- this grand hotel is not old-fashioned. In fact, the first same-sex wedding in Whistler happened in the Fairmont. On the hunt for a unique wedding venue? Their on-site wedding chapel is located on the rooftop, offering breathtaking views of the mountains. As part of the successful Fairmont hotel chain giant, you can expect top quality offerings from this hotel. A golf course, the Vida Spa, and slope-side whirlpools are just some of the features of this luxurious hotel.
Mountainside Lodge, located centrally in the Village, is a fantastic option for those who like a dine-in option during their vacations. All rooms are equipped with full kitchens, providing more culinary flexibility for the guests. Just in case cooking after a long day of adventuring isn’t a priority, one of Whistler’s best Italian restaurants- Trattoria di Umberto– is located within the lodge. If you are looking for a cosy and luxurious place to stay, this hotel treats its guests to fireplaces in every room, and some of the loft suites even have their own private saunas.
WHERE TO PLAY
Go Axe Throwing: What better way to immerse yourself in Canadian life than with a little axe throwing?! Once reserved for lumberjacks seeking entertainment in forest logging camps, this exciting timber sport is now a hugely popular group activity around the world. Forged Axe Throwing is THE place in Whistler to give this exciting activity a try and the friendly team will show you the ropes, keep you safe, and provide plenty of fun and frivolity as you hurl your way to hitting your first bullseye. Think darts but with axes, and a whole load more fun too. Don your finest plaid (it seems to be the trend among axe throwing aficionados) and prepare yourself for the truly satisfying feeling as the axe sinks into that bullseye.
Go Heli-Skiing: Looking to spice up your skiing or snowboarding? Heli-skiing or heli-boarding really is the ultimate experience for strong skiers and snowboarders, and Whistler is the perfect place to give it a try. After a thrilling helicopter ride to the top of the heli-ski runs, your guides will unload the skis, poles and snowboards for you, before escorting you across some of the very best backcountry terrain and untouched snow.
Go Zip Lining: Ever fancied soaring through a valley, swooping above the treetops and really immersing yourself in nature? There’s something about gliding over the Whistler creeks and old-growth trees fastened to a high wire – under expert supervision of course! Ziptrek is the original zipline tour company, and their tour takes place over the Fitzsimmons Valley between the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Superfly Ziplines are located about a 10 minute drive outside of Whistler Village in Cougar Mountain.
Be an Olympian (for the day): As one of the host venues for the Vancouver Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games, Whistler boasts an Olympic Park and an Olympic Sliding Center giving you the chance to live like an Olympian – just for a few hours. Give biathlon a go at the Olympic Park or experience the speed of sliding at the Whistler Sliding Center, where both bobsleigh and skeleton experiences are available on the fastest ice track in the world.
Go Dog Sledding: Another quintessential Canadian adventure, dog sledding has been around for some 4,000 years and is an activity for every bucket list. Head to Whistler Dog Sledding to explore the snowy forests and trails behind an exuberant team of Arctic snow dogs. Reaching speeds up to 32 km/h (20 m.p.h.), you can choose to sit back and let your expert guide do the work or give mushing your own team of dogs a try!
For more information, please visit www.whistler.com.