The Whistler Pride and Ski Festival is an annual LGBTQ-themed event at Whistler in January. It features a week of winter sports and fun events.
Not your typical Pride festival, the event has been running for around three decades and offers a welcoming atmosphere for all. It’s a Pride festival with parties and a parade, but it’s also a skiing and snowboarding festival with lots of snow sports activities.
The festival’s dates in 2022 were January 23rd to 30th. In 2023 it runs from January 22nd until the 29th.
Whistler’s Pride Festival
Beginning in 1992, Whistler Pride has grown into an annual festival that attracts thousands of participants. It’s actually the biggest event of its kind in Canada (i.e., the largest Pride-themed winter ski festival). During the event there are plenty of great ski and snowboard opportunities on Whistler-Blackcomb along with shows, parties and all sorts of other celebrations of LGBTQ+ life and culture.
Whistler is known for its beautiful ski resort and mountains with plenty of fresh snow in winter. Whistler Pride takes advantage of this by scheduling its festival during what is often the peak of snow season.
The festival usually runs for a week and one and a half weekends in late January. In 2022 it ran from January 23rd to 30th. Those of all genders and sexualities are welcome. Tickets for this past year’s event went on sale December 15th in 2021.
Festival Passes and Accommodations
The 2022 festival had a change from previous years. There was no general festival pass to be bought (or at least not to our knowledge). In past years, festival passes have cost between around $100 and $200. In 2022 you just had to buy tickets for each of the paid individual events.
Each year festival-goers have access to a free guided ski and/or snowboard group. There are options available for those of all skill levels so everyone is welcome to take part. These groups take on both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and are led by experienced guides. You just have to make sure to reserve your spot in advance.
One thing that’s not included are lift tickets which must be purchased through the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort. For those who want to take part in the skiing and snowboarding, it’s recommended that you book a spot in advance on the Whistler Pride website. There are also plenty of other events to take part in at the festival which are described in more detail below.
Attendees who are from outside the Lower Mainland or who want to stay at the resort overnight need a place to stay. Aava Whistler Hotel was the official host of Whistler Pride 2022 and is close to where much of the action at the festival takes place. There is of course a number of other hotels in the area that can also be used. (See the WhatToDoInWhistler.ca website for a list of accommodation options.)
Whistler Pride Events
Below are some of the main events that took place in 2022. There are other events besides the ones we list, but these are just some of the biggest.
Daily Ski and Après Sessions
As mentioned above, there are guided ski and snowboard sessions available daily during the festival. In the afternoon and early evening, whether you ski yourself or not, you can take part in one of the après sessions.
These are casual hangout events that provide a relaxed way to meet other attendees before taking part in other activities later in the evening. The après sessions usually take place at the Aava Whistler Hotel.
Annual Pride Parade
Given the emphasis on winter sports at the festival, it’s only fitting that the pride parade itself takes place on skis and snowboards, or at least it does at the start. Beginning on the Olympic Run, participants slide their way down before transitioning to marching on foot all the way to the Olympic Plaza at the north end of the village.
In the parade there are plenty of rainbow flags, colorful outfits and people having fun. After the parade itself there are often further celebrations at the Whistler Conference Centre or elsewhere in town.
The date for the parade in 2022 was Friday, January 28th. Ski participants met part way up the hill at 3:00 pm. A hundred or so people skied and snowboarded down to the village. Many carried Pride flags and banners. A few dressed in fun and provocative costumes.
The procession of skiers arrived at the bottom of the hill, by the gondolas, at around 3:30. There they were greeted by a friendly crowd and an official Indigenous welcome. After that (and after lots of photo taking), the pedestrian part of the parade began. It involved well over 100 people marching through the street.
The parade went from one end of Village Stroll to the other, from the base of the gondolas to the Olympic Rings in the North Village. Upon reaching the Olympic Plaza, the parade ended and participants headed off to other activities.
Whistler Pride Festival Video
To give you a really good idea of what to expect at the Whistler Pride Parade, check out the following video. It shows what the pedestrian part of the parade looked like in 2022.
In addition to scenes of the parade, at the end of the video, there is a scene of Jimbo saying “Hi From Whistler Pride.” Jimbo was the headlining entertainer for the festival in 2022.
To see a video of the parade that includes participants skiing down the hill at the beginning of the event see the WhatToDoInWhistler.ca website.
SPA-lash! A Private Event at Scandinave Spa
Scandinave is a popular Whistler spa. It’s also a long-running sponsor of the Whistler Pride Festival.
On January 27th, 2022, the spa was going to host its annual private Pride event. Because of COVID-19, however, the SPA-lash! event was cancelled. Many attendees of the festival still went to the spa, but during regular hours as regular (silent and non-partying) guests.
Normally, on a typical day, last entry to the spa’s bathing area is 6:00 pm. The venue is also a silent spa where people aren’t allowed to talk. During the Pride Festival, however, in years without COVID, for one night there is usually a DJ playing outside in the bathing area. There are also drinks to enjoy and lots of talking. Hopefully this event can take place again in 2023.
The spa does not allow phones, and there is usually a silence policy in place during regular hours. That is not the case for the SPA-lash! event as it’s one for socializing while guests enjoy the steam rooms and hot tubs.
SPA-lash! was going to take place from 9:30 to 11:30 pm in 2022, with a free shuttle running from the Aava Whistler Hotel to the venue. The date, times and other details for 2023 are to be confirmed.
Snowball Closing Party
This is not a snowball fight; rather it’s a blowout party to end off the festival. In 2020 the Whistler Conference Centre was turned into a nightclub that attendees could party in until 4:00 am. There were lights, music and other effects in the building along with a DJ and plenty of dancing.
In 2022 the event has been altered and is now Snow Belles – Alpine Eleganza. It’s a ball for everyone to enjoy, with drag race stars from around the continent performing. Participants could book a private table for up to six people, or buy single tickets in the general admission area. This event took place on January 29th, 2022, from 9:00 pm to midnight.
Other Whistler Activities
Whistler has a number of great activities to enjoy outside of the festival. There are snowmobile tours, gondola rides, ziplining, and plenty of other fun things available on the mountains and in the village itself.
A lot of those and other activities aren’t included with the purchase of a festival pass, but if you’re in the area they are worth checking out.
For a list of things to do check out Whistler’s Top Attractions.
For more information visit the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort
- Vancouver Pride Festival
- Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival
- Whistler Go Fest