If you’re in Vancouver this holiday season, take a few days to get out of the city and see some of the best scenery in British Columbia by spending some time in Whistler—Canada’s famous getaway for adventure-seekers, vacationers, and anyone looking for the perfect escape.
From Dec. 18–Jan. 7, 2013, see the Festival of Lights at Scotia Creek Gallery in Millennium Place—a mix of light sculptures and local art. From Dec. 21–Jan 6, relax in the lounge while the kids play mini-golf, do crafts, and play games at the family-friendly Whistler Holiday Experience at the Conference Centre. You can also see A Christmas Carol be performed with puppets, improv, and music at Millennium Place on Dec. 22.
Watch Whistler’s best skiers and riders jump through rings of fire every Sunday for free (6:30pm, Dec. 16–March 3; 7:30pm March 10–31, 2013) at Whistler Blackcomb‘s Fire and Ice Show, then head to Afterburn, the adults-only after-party.
Whistler has not one but three spots for atmospheric ice-skating in the mountains. You can skate at Whistler Olympic Plaza Skating Rink for free (skate rentals are $5), with the holiday lights and mountains in the background. You can skate on a lake—Alta Lake or Green Lake, that is—which is a more natural setting but a bit riskier (stay close to shore, don’t skate alone, and check the weather before going). Or you could skate indoors on an NHL-sized rink at Meadow Park Sports Centre, which opens for public skating from noon to 3pm every day.
Settle under a blanket and sip hot chocolate—not by the fire, but in a sleigh as it glides overs fresh snow! You can take an old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh ride, complete with sleigh bells and all, through the woods around Green Lake or Blackcomb Mountain.
If you’re there over the holidays but the holidays just aren’t your thing, you’ll still enjoy the world-famous skiing and snowboarding opportunities at Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, both open on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day (weather permitting). However, if you are in fact crazy about Christmas (and you have an extra Santa suit lying around), you can score a free lift ticket if you’re one of the first 75 people to show up at the base of Whistler Mountain in full costume on Dec. 22.