On the winter solstice, December 21, I was at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) for the opening of their new exhibit, UNCEDED: S7ulh temíxw / Ti tmicwkálha / Our Land – A Photographic Journey Into Belonging. The Cultural Chief for the Lil’wat Nation, Kúkwpi7 (Chief) Gélpcal reiterated that the word unceded refers to land which has not been given up.

Gélpcal is featured in one of the exhibit’s striking photographs, standing in the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in his regalia, drum in hand. He asked us to imagine a time when seeing an Indigenous person like this wouldn’t feel out of place, and that the way forward is to look at things from a different perspective, a more holistic one, with the goal of connection.

As we enter the new year, I will be thinking about Kúkwpi7 Gelpcal’s words, aiming to keep my mind open to new ways of thinking and feeling, keeping connection at the forefront of my relationships with the people and land around me. If you’re in Whistler this month, I urge you to start 2023 with a visit to the SLCC as a way of being better connected to the people and history of the land we’re honoured to be in.

Talking of belonging. What started out as a small, weekend gathering of gay ski enthusiasts in 1992, has become one of the biggest (and some might say best) gay and lesbian ski weeks in North America. The Whistler Pride & Ski Festival is celebrating its 30th festival with a packed events schedule of skiing, snowboarding and queer-focused, après and social events. It’s friendly, it’s bright, and it’s a proud celebration of diversity.

Here’s what’s happening in Whistler this January.

Outdoor Adventure

You’ll find us:

  • Getting in some cross-country ski laps at Callaghan Country and Whistler Olympic Park. Just south of Whistler in the stunning Callaghan Valley you’ll find snowy trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, including some dog-friendly trails. There are rentals, lessons and clinics available, and you can even try the unique sport of biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.
  • Taking to the skies with Whistler Heli-Skiing. They have access to 432,000 acres of terrain, that’s a lot of places to find powder. It’s also good to know that Whistler Heli-Skiing has been flying carbon-neutral on all its flights since 2019 thanks to its commitment to carbon offsetting. Read more about the heli-ski experience in our 101 Guide.
  • Joining Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures for their fourth Women’s Backcountry Ski and Splitboard Series, which is specifically designed for women looking for a pressure-free environment to progress in the backcountry. Depending on where you’re at in your backcountry journey there are 1-day introductory courses all the way up to a 4-day, guided, adventure along the Spearhead Traverse.

 

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Adventure Lite

You’ll find us:

  • On a guided snowshoe tour. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. However, going with a guide means you get that extra knowledge about the area you’re exploring. There are tours in the Callaghan Valley, on Rainbow Mountain and along the Ancient Cedars trail.
  • Cycling through the rejuvenating heating and cooling program at the Scandinave Spa, Whistler’s outdoor, hydrotherapy bathing experience. Heat up in their saunas, steam rooms and hot pools, and then use the cool plunge pools and showers to invigorate your body and mind. If you need extra TLC book a massage.
  • Sipping on some local suds and utilizing the Brew Bus through Whistler Valley Sightseeing. The Whistler-based tour covers three local breweries, Whistler Brewing Co. and Coast Mountain Brewing in Function Junction, and High Country Brewing in Whistler Village. One of our Insiders scoped out some of the winter beers on offer in Rockin’ Around the Breweries: Whistler Winter Beers.

More ways to get outside.

Family Fun

You’ll find us:

  • Deep in the forest at a magical, multimedia light show. Vallea Lumina is an incredible après ski activity that will wow the whole family. Read more about this experience in Magic in the Mountains: Winter Vallea Lumina.
  • Staring in awe at the ski and snowboard athletes who take part in Whistler Blackcomb’s Fire & Ice Show. Watch as they somersault through firey rings at the base of Whistler Mountain as the tunes pump and the fire dancers spin. This is a free event that happens weekly on Sundays during the winter at 7 PM.
  • Cheering on the athletes taking part in the Luge BC Cup on January 8 as they tackle the fastest track in the world. It’s free to spectate the heats at the Whistler Sliding Centre, and you can catch the Excalibar Gondola up to where it’s located (opposite lot 8).

More family-friendly activities.

Arts & Culture

You’ll find us:

  • Looking at the world through a different lens when we take in the UNCEDED: S7ulh temíxw / Ti tmicwkálha / Our Land – A Photographic Journey Into Belonging exhibit at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. It’s a photographic journey onto the unceded territories of the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Úxwumixw, the Lil’wat7ul and where their territories meet in Whistler, BC. It’s a series of stunning photos featuring Indigenous peoples in locations throughout the Sea to Sky. The images ask the viewer to think about the presence of Indigenous peoples and look at the land from their perspective.
  • Meeting world-renowned photographer, David Yarrow at the Whistler Contemporary Gallery at the Four Seasons Whistler. Yarrow will be talking about what goes on behind the scenes from 4 – 6 PM, while event-goers enjoy a complimentary cocktail. The event is free to attend, but you do need to register.
  • At a paint night at ART POP in Creekside Village. Local, award-winning artist Andrea Mueller opened ART POP last month, which is part shop, gallery, studio and workshop space. Families can buy creative kits to take back home or make onsite, and there are creative events for adults and kids happening every week. Stop in, browse and get creative!
  • Pouring over European prints at The Collector’s Cosmos exhibit at the Audain Art Museum. This new, visiting exhibit opens on January 28 and focuses on Flemish and Dutch prints of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including works by Rembrandt, Hendrick Goltzius and Jacob van Ruisdael.
  • Laughing away with four international comedians at the Snowed In Comedy Tour on January 25, and then again at the Comedy Double-Header on January 28. Both take place at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

 

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Eating, Drinking & Shopping

You’ll find us:

  • Making a poke bowl at Main Street Poke, which is open daily from noon to 8 PM. Poke (pronounced (poh-kay) originates from Hawaii and is typically sliced and cubed raw fish. However, they’ve put a modern spin on it by adding tofu, salmon and chicken as possible bowl options.
  • Getting our caffeine kicks from the new Rockit Coffee Co., which opened last month in Creekside with its retro, rock ‘n’ roll vibes. Although it serves amazing coffee (hand-picked beans by award-winning roasters), it’s also the funky decor, friendly ambiance and delicious food options that will have us coming back time and again. There’s incredible attention to detail, from the 70s and 80s-inspired furniture, lights and accents to the fact that they use New Zealand butter in their croissants, have a specific time that their espresso blend peculates for (28 seconds), they’ve even weaved their rock theme into their menu item names. This isn’t just grabbing your morning coffee, it’s an experience that will set you up for the day.
  • Picking out some vintage threads at The Velvet Underground, which has recently gone through a renovation with an expanded section upstairs. You’ll find ethical clothing, records, jewelry and homewares, some new, most not, but all thoughtfully handpicked by the store owners.
  • Trying not to lose our bread in molten Emmenthal cheese at The Chalet. This winter-only offering by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is the place to go for a decadent, fondue experience. It’s a four-course dinner including a starter, cheese fondue, beef fondue chinoise and chocolate fondue. A romantic, winter dining experience.

 

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More on Village shoppingdining and arts and culture.

Save the Date

World Ski and Snowboard Festival | April 10 – 16

Be a Responsible Traveller: Don’t Love It to Death

  • Help keep Whistler green by choosing tap water over bottled water, avoiding single-use plastics, leaving the car at home, choosing active transportation and sorting garbage properly to reduce your waste.
  • Be AdventureSmart and always practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • Consider our Responsible Travel pillars, Respect Nature, Think Environment, Don’t Love It to Death and Support Local.

Travel Updates

  • All travel restrictions have been removed for US and international visitors entering Canada. Visit whistler.com/covid for the latest COVID-19 information and resources for travellers.

If You’re Driving . . .

  • Winter tires or chains are required on the Sea to Sky Highway from now until March 31. Make sure to check you have these, especially if you’re using a rental car. Read more on our Road Conditions page.
  • Help reduce congestion on the highway by travelling during non-peak times. Peak travel times on the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler include Friday afternoons and evenings, weekends and holidays. To avoid this busy time, plan to visit Whistler midweek when the highway and the resort are typically quieter. Extend your weekend – plan to arrive on Thursday night and leave on Monday morning to avoid the weekend traffic. If you’re visiting Whistler only for the day, plan on staying for dinner to avoid the rush of day traffic leaving the resort after the mountain closes.
  • Always check DriveBC for current road conditions before getting on the road. Follow @DriveBC on Twitter and listen to MountainFM for the latest updates.
  • Paid parking is in effect in all the Day Lots (complimentary parking from 5 PM to 3 AM). There is no parking in Day Lots 1 to 5 between 3 AM to 6 AM from November 1 to March 31. Please check the RMOW website for more information on parking.
  • Winter parking regulations are in effect. No even side parking on streets Mon to Fri, 9 AM to 5 PM. No parking on the odd side of streets year-round.
  • Marketplace parking has new tariffs; $1 first 30 min and $2 first hour (15-minute, storefront parking remains free). For shopping at Fresh St. Market, register your license plate in the machine prior to shopping and they will reimburse you for 1 hour with a minimum $25 purchase.
If this post has you dreaming of Whistler, enter our Go Big This Winter Contest for a chance to win a trip.

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Author

You can often find Dee exploring all Whistler has to offer with her three-kid tribe in tow. Originally from the UK, Dee enjoys balancing out high-thrills adventures with down-time basking in the beauty of the wonderful place she now calls home.