While most Canadians are cheering the end of a long, harsh winter, others are genuinely sad to see the cold, snowy days go – but snow sports lovers can celebrate the season that was and get a last big blast of winter at Whistler's World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
"Spring skiing is a lot of people's favourite because you're out there in a light jacket if not a T-shirt, you're wearing your sunglasses, the snow is slushy and soft, and then the après takes it to a whole other level because everyone is sitting outside on the patio," says WSSF spokesperson Lauren Everest. "So the energy really goes up in the springtime and everybody looks forward to it."
The fest draws some of the biggest names in skiing and boarding, among them Olympians and world champions who complete in events such as Slopestyle and the hugely popular Big Air, which sees top pros doing huge jumps and flips at the base of Whistler Mountain.
The 10-day event also features a host of other activities, from late-night dance parties to filmmaker and photographer showdowns to Whistler Dogfest, which comes with retrieving competitions, dog demos and the hilarious Walk of Shame Dog Parade, where both owners and their dogs wear signs admitting to their indiscretions, and along the way raise funds for the Victoria Humane Society.
Another favourite is the Silent Disco, where people pick up a set of headphones on their way in, tune in to one of three live DJs, then hit the dance floor – but the venue itself remains completely silent.
Those who want a little brain food can also take in Mountain Multiplicity Show – an evening of speakers that includes famed anthropologist Wade Davis and Mountain Life Publisher Todd Lawson, whose holiday in the Philippines turned into a relief mission after typhoon Yolanda swept through.
But one of the biggest draws is the outdoor concert series, which this year includes famed L.A. electronic music trio the Glitch Mob, groundbreaking hip-hop outfit De La Soul, American DJ and producer Cut Chemist and many more, ending with the Wailers, the band that backed reggae icon Bob Marley and is associated with hot sun – not snowy climes.
"The temperatures are really mild in the village right now, so it's not like you're standing out there freezing and chattering your teeth," says Ms. Everest with a laugh. "And you're right at the bottom of Whistler Mountain, so the sound is awesome, the village is buzzing, and the music is the soundtrack to the whole end of the ski day. And if the sun comes out then it's the ultimate."
The World Ski and Snowboard Festival is in Whistler April 11-20 (wssf.com).