Long weekends mean three glorious days of freedom to get out of town. And with a low Loonie there's even more reason to make a staycation in Canada. Whistler is a world class travel destination year-round, but come Victoria Day long weekend there will be even more reasons to visit. Here are nine reasons I’ll be heading up and why you should too. 


1. GO Fest

Tourism Whistler / Mike CraneTourism Whistler / Mike Crane

From Friday, May 20th through Monday, May 23rd Whistler will host the third annual Great Outdoors Festival (GO Fest). It’s a four-day celebration of all things outdoorsy and it promises to educate and entertain. Come for Whistler’s alpine beauty but stay for a weekend schedule packed with outdoor events and clinics. The best news? Loads of activities will be free or by donation, and others will see local businesses offer special GO Fest pricing. 


2. Free live entertainment all weekend

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All weekend long live music will float through Whistler Village. The outdoor Mainstage will sit centrally in Village Square, set against the most picturesque of backdrops. The talent-packed lineup is as follows: 

Friday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. - DAN MANGAN 
The recipient of two Juno awards, this acoustic troubadour will strum blissed-out beats. Go gently into an action packed weekend while soaking up emotional lyrics and ambient rhythms. 


Tourism Whistler / Mike CraneTourism Whistler / Mike Crane

Saturday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Cuban-born, but currently living Smithers, B.C. Alex Cuba and his music are immediately intriguing. Small town living doesn't mean small town recognition either; in February he earned a Grammy nod for Best Latin Pop. Come Saturday night, the fresh alpine air of Whistler will pulse with groovy upbeat soul.

Sunday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m. - THE MATINEE
The Mainstage livens up Sunday night for the closing of GO Fest. The alt rock signature sound of The Matinee will have heads nodding and toes tapping. Who can resist the music of a Vancouver Island band that has been described as 'urgent, raucous and quirky'? 


3. Monkey around on a treetop obstacle course

If you're like myself, you've been itching to try this one out. Imagine a jungle gym suspended high above the ground, weaving through the canopy; welcome to the Treetop Adventure Course at Superfly Whistler. Dangle up to 60 feet above the forest floor to confront and overcome 70 obstacles. Toe a balance beam while trying not to lose your nerve, then swing from platform to platform. The course takes 2.5 to three hours to complete, making it great value for the $59 price tag.

On Saturday and Sunday Superfly is challenging Go Fest participants to a good ole fashion race. Title of fastest adventurer and a Superfly tour are up for grabs. 


4. Experience summer & winter in a single day

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Some see spring as a shoulder season; we see it as a way to play with a foot in winter and the other planted in summer. May is the perfect month to catch the last of the snow in the morning and then hike, bike, golf or paddle in the afternoon. It doesn't get more B.C. boast-worthy than that. 


5. Try out a new hobby before committing to it

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A variety of clubs and local business are hosting educational clinics. There's everything from introductory courses to skills workshops. Now's your chance to try out a new hobby or pick up some new techniques.

There's a Go Sailing Clinic hosted by the Whistler Sailing Association for those interested in sailing but short on experience. It's also a perfect opportunity to take in scenic Alta Lake. Skippers who have already found their sea legs can compete in the Go Sailing Regatta, taking place on Sunday. 

Whistler Photography will be marrying a nature walk while teaching novices the finer points of digital photography. Click for more details about the Digital Camera Photography Workshop. 

Other clinics include mountain bike maintenance, road bike maintenance, family chipping and putting at Nicklaus North, women-only fly fishing, fly fishing and tying. 

For more information on these activities, visit whistler.com/gofest.


6. Whistler Film Festival Adventure Film Series

: Maury Young Arts Centre at 4335 Blackcomb Way
Dates: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $12 each or $60 for a pass (see nine for the price of five!)
Full schedule & film descriptions: whistler.com/gofest 

Catch some flicks that highlight some seriously adventurous people. Nine films follow intrepid adventurers around the world as they pursue their passions. In the face of danger, risky maneuvers or remote locales, movie-goers will be perched on the edge of their seats. Films focus on a wide breadth of topics, from extreme sport to activism to solo adventure. Some of these athletes may be reckless bordering on the absurd, but you won't be able to deny they are living their authentic lives large


7. You: the artist

Tourism Whistler / Mike CraneTourism Whistler / Mike Crane

Wondering how artistic endeavours fit into an outdoorsy festival? Sure, GO Fest may have participants paddling and peddling, but there's something about being close to nature that inspires creativity. The stillness of the outdoors offers moments of reflection, and inspiration for self expression runs rampant in nature-laden Whistler. Squeeze in an art break while catching your breath between high adrenaline activities:

Picasso Portrait Party -
 create a self portrait in Picasso style with materials and guidance from a gallery artist.
When: Saturday, 3 - 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon - 2 p.m.
Where: Crystal Lodge Art Gallery at 4154 #114 Village Green
Cost: $25 (GO Fest special pricing)
More details: Click HERE

Wine About Art
 - find inspiration to paint while sampling wine, how hard can it be? Materials and canvas are provided; event is lead by a gallery artist. 19+
When: Friday, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Crystal Lodge Art Gallery at 4154 #114 Village Green
Cost: $50 - wine not included
More details: Click HERE

Bear Sculpting
 - learn the fundamentals of sculpting technique and create a memento to take home with you. 
When: Saturday, 11 a.m. - 71p.m.
Where: Crystal Lodge Art Gallery at 4154 #114 Village Green
Cost: $25 (GO Fest special pricing)
More details: Click HERE


8. For family-friendly festival activities

Tourism Whistler / Mike CraneTourism Whistler / Mike Crane

We know vacations - even local staycations - can add up quickly when you have kiddos in tow. A host of family-friendly events and entertainment are an open invitation to parents travelling with kids. 

Pancake Breakfast- put on by the Whistler Rotary Club
When: Saturday, 10 a.m. - noon
Where: Whistler Public Library at 4329 Main Street Whistler
Cost: By donation

Drop In Tennis - coaches on hand to offer tips and facilitate play
Where: Whistler Olympic Plaza under the Pavilion
When: Saturday, noon - 5 p.m.
Cost: Free

Scavenger Hunt Nature Walk - take a walk on the wild side while peeping some of Whistler's most treasured natural features. An expert adventure leader will accompany each group while explaining the significance of biodiversity, forests, waterways and wildlife. Parents: please note participants under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult. 

When: Saturday, departure times TBD
Where: Environmental Expo in Whistler Town Plaza (along the Village Stroll)
Cost: Free

Nicklaus North Family Chipping & Putting Clinic -
swing by the course with the kids to grace the greens. You'll need to come with clubs or rent some (limited available), but the event is completely free. Just drop in for one of the time slots below. Once you're done, stop by the range for a chance to win the longest drive contest. Tips offered by Director of Instruction, Graham Kehoe and his PGA Staff

When: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 45- minute family chipping and putting clinics are offered every hour, starting at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Where: Nicklaus North Practice Facility at 8080 Nicklaus North Blvd
Cost: Free! 

Whistler Street Entertainment - occupy the kids' attention with book readings, live music, Ira Pettle - interactive kids entertainer, meet an owl with Radical Raptors, or tuck into some crafts. Activities run Saturday and Sunday with a varied schedule from noon through 5:30 p.m. Location: Whistler Town Plaza. 


9. A Serious Amount of Free Things to Do

Tourism Whistler / Mike CraneTourism Whistler / Mike Crane

Let's be honest, Whistler is renowned for luxe lodgings, gourmet dining, ace adventure and raucous nightlife. If you're after a staycation on a shoestring budget, keep busy with these completely free activities so you can splurge where really you want to. 

Yoga hosted by lululemon athletica & Forlise
- in a town that lives and breathes the yogi ethos it comes as little surprise GO Fest has secured top-notch instructors: Janet Corvino, Sarah Mastalir and Erin Anderson. Mats are provided. 
When: Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. - 9 a.m.
Where: GO Fest basecamp in Mountain Square at 4151 Village Green

Tiger Ping Pong Tournament
 - who can resist a little competitive table tennis? 
Where: Go Fest Base Camp in Mountain Square
When: Saturday & Sunday, noon - 5 p.m.

Environmental Expo
 - ignite ways to contribute to sustainability through interactive exhibits, vendors and examples of initiatives undertaken in Whistler. 
Where: Whistler Town Plaza along the Village Stroll
When: Saturday, noon - 5 p.m.

All British Car Show
 - you don't have to travel all the way to Havana for old cars
Where: Whistler Olympic Plaza
When: Sunday, 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Whistler Farmers' Market
 - over 80 vendors showcasing goods 100% made, baked or grown in British Columbia. 
Where: Whistler Upper Village
When: Sunday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Hang lakeside at The Point Artist-Run Centre
 - bocce and brunch at Cypress Point Cafe, get sketched by a resident artist or join in for a campfire sing-along.
Where: 5678 Alta Lake Road
When: Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.