What is the best season to visit Whistler, BC?
Whistler is known as a four-season resort, with activities for all the family available all year-round. If you are planning a trip, when should you come?
First we must divide this question into two parts. If you are coming for the legendary skiing on Whistler’s 8000+ acres, you have to choose sometime between November and April. Although there is skiing available later than April it is not for serious skiers, due to the combination of marginal snow conditions and limited mechanized uplift. Within this time, you should definitely avoid November, as although occasionally there is good snow, more often than not it is too thin on the ground. So your choice is between the months from December to April. What are the main characteristics of each month?
December is a game of two halves. The early part will find the slopes deserted, great deals on accommodation and restaurants and a lottery with respect to snow. If you have come in a great early snow year, this will be a fabulous time to visit. If not, bring your rock skis and plan to spend some time in Whistler’s great spas. Later in December, and especially over Christmas and New Year, you will pay the steepest prices of the season, have trouble getting a table in any of the good restaurants and stand in some brutal line-ups on the Harmony Chair. However you will experience the rush which goes with peak season in a top resort: the buzzing nightlife, the parades, the fireworks and the thrill of First Night in the Village.
January often has the best snowfalls of the year (Jan 2006 was the snowiest month in Whistler for 25 years). It also offers discounted accommodation (you can safely wait to the last minute to get a great deal on a beautiful chalet or condo), and no lift lines, except on weekend powder days, when the locals will crowd the lifts lines at 8.00 to catch the fresh tracks. But it can be cold, and it gets dark early. January is the best month for hard-core skiers.
February and March are more crowded, but more mellow. Avoid Presidents Week in February and Spring Break in March and you could have the best of all worlds: plenty of time for snowfall accumulation to have built up, plenty of buzz in town but easy access to the best tables.
April is mainly for the British market, who come over in droves during their Easter holidays. The peculiarity of the April snow is that there is more of it at the top of the mountain, but less at the bottom, so don’t bother to pay the premium for a ski-in, ski-out condo as it may not be possible. Last minute Whistler accommodation discounts are widely available in April.
In the non-skiing season you can pretty much write off the autumn: too cold to swim in the lakes and too much rain. May and June can be fabulous weather-wise; perfect conditions for white-water rafting in the snow run-off and great golfing weather. But you will probably have to leave it to July and August if you are looking for warm water in Whistler’s beautiful lakes.