13 Don’t-Miss Ski Season Events in BC

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In BC’s mountain towns, winter is a season to be embraced and celebrated. Locals and visitors alike take part in winter carnivals, food- and drink-focused events, music festivals, and displays of athleticism and skill. The over-18 crowd will find plenty to celebrate, and there are also some fabulous events for families.

Here are 13 BC winter events not to be missed.

1. Winter Kickoff in Nelson and Kootenay Lake

Charming downtown Nelson.

Charming downtown Nelson. Photo: Kari Medig

When: Late November

What: Gear up for winter, Kootenay style. Celebrate with local food and drink, boutique shopping along streets lined with heritage buildings, and with art and cultural offerings by the area’s many talented artists. While you’re here, don’t miss a dip in a nearby hot spring. The perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

2. Big Reds at Big White in Kelowna

When: Early December

What: Rub elbows with some of the Okanagan Valley’s most notable winemakers, and sample their new releases. The valley is known internationally for its exceptional red wines, with popular varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Malbec.

3. Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival near Kamloops

The village at Sun Peaks Resort in the snow.

Ski and sip at the Winter Okanagan Wine Festival. Photo: Ryan Creary

When: mid-January

What: See Sun Peaks transformed into an outdoor wine experience as you stroll from venue to venue, wine glass in hand, along pedestrian-only village streets. Indulge in wine and food pairings, winemaker presentations, and progressive tastings over 10 grape-fueled days. An incredible way to experience an Okanagan winter.

4. Whistler Pride and Ski Festival in Whistler

When: late January

What: One of North America’s biggest gay and lesbian ski weeks, Whistler Pride packs skiing, après ski social events, comedy nights and themed parties into eight days of festival fun. Watch (or join in) as skiers and snowboarders descend, flags waving, into Whistler Village as part of a unique pride march.

5. Rossland Winter Carnival in Rossland

Revelers at the Rossland Winter Carnival.

Revelers at the Rossland Winter Carnival. Photo: Steve Ogle

When: late January

What: Founded in 1898, the Rossland Winter Carnival is one of Canada’s oldest winter celebrations. There are fire spinners, a carnival parade, an ice palace, live music performances, and a bobsled race right down the town’s Spokane Street. The epitome of small mountain town carnivals, it doesn’t get more authentic than this.

6. Vernon Winter Carnival in Vernon

Hot air balloons at the Vernon Winter Carnival.

Look up. Waaaaaaay up. Photo: @LisaMazurekPhoto via Twitter

When: early February

What: This annual event started in 1961, and it adopts a different theme each year. In 2018, the theme will be “Carnival in Wonderland.” Don’t miss 10 days of fun, including a snow sculpture a competition, a parade, and a nighttime lantern Nordic ski. The highlight? Watch the sky come alive during the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

7. Freeride World Tour at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

The stunning terrain around Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

The stunning terrain around Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: Reuben Krabbe

When: early February

What: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will proudly host this five-stop international tour of some of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world. Kicking Horse is the second stop after Hakuba, Japan, and it is the only stop in North America. Come be a spectator, and get in some powder days while you’re here.

8. Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Fest at Whitewater Ski Resort 

A colourful descent during the Coldsmoke Powder Fest.

A colourful descent during the Coldsmoke Powder Fest. Photo: Steve Ogle

When: late February

What: This popular, grass-roots event is a celebration of all things powder. There are off-piste adventures, backcountry clinics, randonee rallies and a film festival. Clinics offer hands-on learning to get you out there, safely enjoying the backcountry powder. All the reason you need to visit this powder mecca.

9. Griz Days at Fernie Alpine Resort 

When: early March

What: The biggest party in Fernie includes hockey tournaments, lumberjack shows, fireworks, parades, and street parties. The Dummy Downhill, held at Fernie Alpine Resort, is the local favourite. Watch competitors build dummies, strap them to skies, and launch them off gigantic ski jumps. That’s some good ol’ Canadian fun.

10. Beer Goggles at RED Mountain Resort 

Warming up by the fire at Beer Goggles.

Warming up by the fire at Beer Goggles. Photo: Steve Ogle

When: mid-March

What: This craft beer festival, held at the base of RED Mountain Resort, kicks off with a welcome party where you can meet the faces behind BC’s breweries and mingle with your fellow aficionados. Beer Goggles is the perfect pairing of BC’s flourishing craft beer scene and one of its most renowned mountain communities.

11. High Notes Festival at Panorama Mountain Resort

When: March 23-28, 2018

What: Check out this alpine music festival, in its second year at Panorama Mountain Resort. The event will feature some of Canada’s best independent artists—last year’s line-up included legendary blues man Jim Byrnes. The festival will kick off a series of spring events at Panorama, so check their calendar for more.

12. Snowbombing at Sun Peaks Resort

When: early April

What: One of Europe’s most popular mountain music festivals will hit Canada again this year as more than 50 artists—ranging from live bands to world-renowned DJs—descend on Sun Peaks Resort. You won’t want to miss an unforgettable four-day, four-night party.

13. World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler

Apres at Whistler Blackcomb

Taking a break to refuel at Whistler Blackcomb. Photo: Leo Zuckerman

When: mid-April

What: Sport and culture collide over 10 days in April, when this legendary mountain community hosts a celebration of skiing, snowboarding, music, photography, art, film, and comedy, all within an atmosphere of general revelry. The energy in the village is electric—you won’t want to miss it.

For information on skiing in BC and ski offers, visit winterwithin.ca.