Halloween is the Whistler locals’ favourite holiday of the year. October is a beautiful month but the ski hills are not open yet and the golf courses are long closed, so everyone in town has a bit more space and free time to relax the mind and get creative. It’s not uncommon for someone to spend weeks handcrafting the perfect Halloween costume and the bars and clubs of Whistler Village are a monster mash of spooky good times the entire weekend surrounding October 31.
And it’s not just the costumes, Whistler Jack-O’-Lanterns are no joke either. Forget those triangle eye-holes and clunky square teeth, walking the streets of Whistler on Halloween is like strolling through a pumpkin carving art gallery. Josee St Armour is an ex-competitive mogul skier who came Whistler for the mountains and found that her artistic side became just as inspired as her athletic.
“It’s a small community,” she says. “So everyone is influencing and inspiring each other. Artists, painters, fashion, photography…there are so many big events for artists and the Arts Council (Arts Whistler) really helps young artists get established. There are artists here that will change your life’s path. It really is the best.”
Best known for her paintings, Josee began carving highly artistic pumpkins back in the late 1990s and says while there are definitely tips and tricks to her process, the most important thing is to have fun. “Halloween is the most creative holiday so no matter how your pumpkin turns out just try new things and have a good time.”
Here are Josee’s insider tips to help you step up your pumpkin carving game.
- Pick a Pumpkin with Character
“Find the ugliest pumpkin you can, to me that is the prettiest. If it has warts or green patches or is not properly round… what ever is awful is perfect for Halloween.”
- Let the Pumpkin Guide You
“Let it tell you what it wants to be. Sometimes you don’t know what is going to happen until you start and that is what creativity is about. Chip away to reveal the pumpkin’s character. It’s like sculpture.”
- Choose Your Methods
“There are two main ways to carve a pumpkin. The traditional way is to hollow it out, stencil what you want on the shell, cut some holes in it and put a light inside. The other way is to leave the pumpkin whole and carve into it with clay or wood carving tools. This way you can take your time and get way into the carving.”
- The Right Tools
“Clay tools are the best but I didn’t have any special tools for these pumpkins, just a knife and a carrot peeler. I think a Dremel would be great for finishing touches but really, the right tools are whatever tools you have.”
“Carve with the natural grain of the pumpkin. It’s like cutting meat, one way will work better than the other and give you more precision.”
- Have Fun
“Don’t stress, it’s Halloween—the uglier the better. And don’t be afraid to add props or accessories to your work. There are no rules just don’t quit. Take your time and make a night of it. The non-hollowed out pumpkins will last a while so take a few days if you need. See it through.”
Josee, who now lives on Vancouver Island, says her fondest memories of Halloween in Whistler are the parties, the costumes, and how everyone would create just for the sake of it.
“There is real value in putting time and effort into something just for the love of being artistic and sharing it with people. Carving a pumpkin counts too! Happy Halloween.”
Halloween 2016 – What’s On in Whistler
Whistler Haunted House – Family Fun
Family Fun $5 or $20 Group | October 29-31 | 12 PM – 4 PM | Westin Resort and Spa Whistler
The Whistler Haunted house has been running since 2012, with thousands of people attending over the years, forming it into a spectacularly spooky Whistler tradition. This year the house has a brand new, custom-built location right in Whistler Village in the courtyard of the Westin Resort & Spa. A team of talented locals volunteer to create the entire house from scratch, and proceeds from the house go to support local charities and causes. Part of Haunted Heritage Weekend by Arts Whistler and the Whistler Museum.
October 29 and 30 | 12pm-2:30pm | by donation | Whistler Museum (family fun, kid-friendly)
Create your own spooky Halloween creatures at the Whistler Museum. The crew from the Whistler Haunted House will be decorating the Whistler Museum as well for a fantastically spooky experience. Costumes welcome! Part of Haunted Heritage Weekend by Arts Whistler and the Whistler Museum.
Halloween Face Painting Tips and Tricks from Whistler Artist Nina Moore
October 29 | 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM | Fairmont Chateau Whistler
From zombies to fairies, pumpkins to werewolves, learn how to create spellbinding looks for your favourite costume. A professional face painting artist will be on hand to share tips and techniques for achieving that perfect guise.
Whistler Children’s Chorus Concert: Harvest Moon
October 30 | 7:00 | Free | Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church
Halloween costumes encouraged as the kids choir performs their annual harvest moon concert.
Halloween at Tapley’s Farm
October 31 | 5:30 – 7:30 PM | By Donation (non perishable food) | Tapley’s
Tapley’s has been the haunted hub of Whistler for 33 years in a row, with local residents creating a magical, scary atmosphere for trick-or-treating with fireworks at Myrtle Philip Community School afterwards. Shuttles will run from Marketplace from 5:15 to 8: 15 PM. Candy donations will be accepted at local stores and schools to support the night.
Halloween for Big Kids – Nightclubs, Parties and More
Whistler Haunted House – Full Scare
Full Scare $10 | October 27-31 | 6 PM – 10 PM | Mature Audience Suggested! | Westin Resort & Spa Courtyard
The Whistler Haunted House pulls out all the stops for adults during the full scare. Come in a group, come alone if you dare – mature audience suggested! Part proceeds from the house go to support local charities and causes.
October 30 | 6pm | $10 | Whistler Museum (19+ event)
A special edition of the Whistler Museum’s popular Speaker Series where local storytellers share their best Whistler ghost stories – are they real or imaginary? Live music and cash bar. Part of Haunted Heritage Weekend by Arts Whistler and the Whistler Museum.
Haunted Hallway at Buffalo Bill’s
October 26, 28-31 | 9:00 – 12:00 PM | Buffalo Bill’s
Pumpkin Carving Contest
October 27 | Tapley’s Neighbourhood Pub
Jagermeister’s Reach For The Darkness Halloween Party
October 28 | 9:00 PM | Tommy Africa’s Nightclub
Free Frawl Freak Show
October 28 | 9:00 PM | Maxx Fish
Howling Saturday at Tommy Africa’s
October 29 | 9:00 PM | Tommy Africa’s Nightclub
Night Of The Bat
October 29 | 9:00 PM | Maxx Fish
October 29 | $60 | Includes 4 Nightlife Venues, 5 drink tickets, VIP entry and food
Halloween Massive Feat. Mob Tactics
October 30 | 9:00 PM | Tommy Africa’s Nightclub
Devil’s Night Halloween Glow Party
October 30 | Doors 9:30 PM | Moe Joe’s Nightclub
Halloween Local’s Night
October 30 | Longhorn Saloon & Grill
Halloween Karaoke Bash
October 31 | 9:00 PM | Cinnamon Bear Bar & Grille
October 31 | 8:00 PM | Tapley’s Neighbourhood Pub
Day of the Dead Monday & Pumpkin Carving
October 31 | 5:00 PM | The FireRock Lounge
Jägermeister presents: Stranger-GARFS (The Halloween Party)
October 31 | 7:00 PM | Garfinkel’s
The Monsters Ball in association with JACK Daniels!
October 31 | 9:00 PM | Tommy Africa’s Nightclub
The Jagermeister Monday Massacre
October 31 | 9:00 PM | Maxx Fish
DJ dieMetal at Brandy’s
October 31 |10:00 PM | Brandy’s at the Keg
Halloween Hop – Local’s Edition
October 31 | $35 | Includes 4 Nightlife Venues, 5 drink tickets, VIP entry and food