Left: Some would argue spring is the best time for riding and skiing. Right: Local DJ duo SkiiTour will be spinning at the fest.
Sure, sure. The term FOMO (fear of missing out) has been around long enough now that it's probably not even cool to say it anymore. But just because it's not "trending in the interweb" doesn't mean the concept doesn't still exist, especially at an all-out, all-in, bonkers 10-day hootenanny like Whistler's World Ski & Snowboard Festival, which runs April 8-17, 2016.
"You literally can't do it all, unless you are a legend," claims Chelsea Moen, WSSF media wizard and no stranger to trying to navigate the ins and outs of the biggest party on snow. "It's almost impossible to send it for ten straight days and at some point you will literally have to be in two or three places at once to take everything in. The fear of missing out is very real, and anytime it is your first year attending something as wild and wonderful as the Festival, it can be overwhelming."
But fear not. With Chelsea's help The Insider has created a checklist of wisdom and must-hit events for festival first-timers and veterans alike. The only thing to fear is fear itself, so strap in, hold on and enjoy the ride.
Big music acts bring out big crowds to Skier's Plaza during WSSF.
1. Accept the Inevitable
The first important trick to navigating WSSF is accepting the fact that you will almost undoubtedly miss something awesome and that is utterly OK because, if you follow this guide, you will most likely be doing something else equally awesome. And if not, there's always tomorrow: it's a 10-day festival.
2. Make a Plan
"How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose" - Bill Gates said that. And while we're not sure if he was talking about the WSSF, how to be a gazillionaire, or just life in general, it is wise to commit the WSSF events schedule to memory before you arrive. Then, check out the local bar and nightclub listings once you get to town. Life happens fast in the mountains, plan accordingly.
Left: Getting silly with the slush. Right: Be prepared for the official and unofficial parties that pop-up in venues all over Whistler.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Ditch Your Plan
At the same time, something amazing always comes out of nowhere. It could be an unannounced DJ set at a tucked-away lounge you would totally disregard otherwise, or there might be a super-secret industry party you heard a waiter talking about. In any case, part of the magic of the Festival is that good times can and do pop up unexpectedly and when they do you have to be willing to make them a new top priority.
4. BUY TICKETS NOW
Not tomorrow and not a few days before you get here. NOW. Marquis events like Intersection presented by Bromely Baseboards, the 72-hour Filmmaker Showdown, the Pro Photographer Showdown have sold out weeks in advance for over ten years so don't expect this year to suddenly be any different. Buy tickets now.
The Filmmaker Showdown is a festival favourite, tickets sell-out fast!
5. It's a Big Year for Music
Cellular provider Fido stepped in and heroically sponsored the outdoor concert series this year so there will be some truly top notch acts performing for free every single day on the main stage at the base of both mountains. The outdoor dance-party potential is huge but the extra fun part is that most acts will also throw in a club show as well. Big acts in small venues is part of what makes the WSSF so legendary. Be prepared to stay up late.
Hot off the Press: The lineup for The End presented by Electrostub (Saturday April 16) has just been released, and it's a cracker. Case of the Mondays, Mat the Alien and Neon Steve will play before DJ duo Pendulum Set & Verse headline with their winning mix of drum and bass, break beat, even hardcore metal and punk. See tip # 4.
6. Go Up The Mountains
No matter when you go to bed there is no better way to beat back the next morning's inevitable hangover than with a bit of fresh mountain air (Chelsea also recommends some coconut water). And the truth is skiing and riding in April is still pretty damn amazing, especially on big snow years like this one. Ullr the snow god almost always dumps a good pow day or two during the WSSF too which means fresh turns up top, sunny patios in the Village. Even if you don't ride, head up the PEAK 2 PEAK and see what all the fuss is about. April 17 is the last day to ski Whistler Mountain for the year and go sightseeing on the PEAK 2 PEAK before they give it a pre-summer tune up - don't miss out!
Bonus Tip: The Monster Boarderstyle contest on Blackcomb is always fun to watch (finals are April 16) and Monster Energy has a DJ booth set up at the Glacier Creek Lodge on Blackcomb and you can bet there will be great music pumping up there from time to time. (And probably some awesome surprise event too… keep your ear to the snow.)
7. The New Events
Be sure to check out newer events like the Stand Up Comedy Showdown at Buffalo Bills or the Multiplicity Show, which brings world class adventurers to town for an evening of stories and images. It's kinda like a TED talk with three extra doses of adrenaline (Full Disclosure: I am the host of that event and it's a fundraiser for a wicked local cause. Don't miss it.)
There's nothing like fresh mountain air and a caesar on a sunny patio to bring you back to life from the night before.
Whistler is a town built to host a party and there's no such thing as too much fun but no matter how you navigate it, the WSSF will wear you down and spit you out if you don't keep hydrated and at least attempt to pace yourself. Spending time on the ski hills definitely helps and if you do need to take a night off and rest up don't stress about it too much, the Best of the Fest event happens on the last night and recaps all the major highlights of the previous 9 days and nights. Good luck!
Check out the WSSF schedule, get your tickets and sort out your festival accommodation nice and early (there’s free apres deals around if you book before March 21). Avoid FOMO, YOLO!