Travel Blog

2 May

Whistler’s Great Outdoors Festival 2015: The Preview

TAG: Amped-Up Adventure, Family Time, Festivals Events

Posted by: Feet Banks

Guest Author: Nick Hewitt

It’s no secret that Whistler is a multi-sport Mecca. Year-round adventurers are drawn here, but spring holds a unique window of opportunity where many of our most popular outdoor activities –bike, ski, paddle, patio— can all be undertaken on the same day.

Cue Whistler’s GO Fest, a celebration of all things outdoors wrapped nicely in festival bundle full of contests, camaraderie and free concerts.

Created in 2014 around the historical-and-amazing Great Snow Earth Water Race, GO Fest returns for four days over Victoria Day Long Weekend , May 15-18,2015.  It’s a final salute to the winter, an anticipatory embrace of the approaching summer and one heck of a good time. But where to start? As happy survivor of last year’s event (who knew tipping a canoe with your co-workers can be so fun?!) Here are couple of my personal fave events.Water, Snow, Earth… The best race of the year.

The Great Snow Earth Water Race

Sunday May 17, 2015
As mentioned, the jewel in the GO Fest crown is undoubtedly the Great Snow Earth Water Race back after a 20+ year hiatus. The 2014 race saw 24 teams of 5-7 people sliding, peddling, treading and floating through the six-stage relay coarse that includes ski touring on Whistler Mountain, downhill skiing/riding to the snowline, Downhill mountain biking to the valley, running, canoeing and XC biking to the finish. Steeped in Whistler-shaped history, this race is approached with an attitude of jovial competitiveness with many donning attire that includes the ridiculous, the aerodynamic and the ridiculously aerodynamic. Register and More info.

Slush Cup

Monday May 18, 2015
What kind of freak would dress up as a dinosaur and attempt to skim a snowboard across an ice-cold pool without so much as a towel in sight? Yep, that’s me in the green suit below (and no I didn’t make it). Built for the brave and/or foolish, the Slush Cup is free to enter and encourages competitors to wear something fun whilst flinging themselves across the icy gauntlet. Prizes are offered for things like style and skill, but it’s the real winners are all those truly dedicated souls who take a freezing dive, sacrificing their core body heat for the entertainment of others. Insider tip is go way faster than your instincts tell you to if you want that triumphant ride-out back onto solid snow. Spectating is almost as much fun but really, you should go for the glory.The authour (right) and the course: Slush Cup is always amazing.

Free Music, Cool Movies and Arts

All Weekend Long
Canadian Rock Hall of Famers April Wine kick off  the (free) GO Fest weekend concert series with a show in Whistler Village Square Friday May 15, 2015. (Pretty good chances there will be at least one green laser beam on stage too). Other confirmed acts include Victoria, BC roots act Current Swell, North Vancouver alt-country duo Dustin Bentall and Kendel Carson as well as local Pemberton rockers Dakota Pearl. Born and raised Whister songbird Willa will close out the weekend with a more youthful electro pop performance on Monday May 18, 2015 at 4 PM. Check out the full music schedule.LEFT: April Wine guitarist (since 1977) Brian Greenway. RIGHT: Rocking the Village Square at GOFest 2014
Artfully and environmentally minded GO Festers should also check out local and First Nations artwork at the Sacred Headwaters Art Exhibition or get inspired at the GO Green keynote presentation from snowboard/activism group Beyond Boarding co-founder Tamo Campos. There is also an Adventure Film Series hosted by the Whistler Film Festival and a special early season Whistler Farmer’s Market Street Party popping up Sunday afternoon. Farmers are the rock stars of the future.

Training and Demo Sessions

All Weekend Long
Never stop learning right? Whether you’re trying your hand at something new or fine tuning what you already know, the training and demo sessions are an excellent opportunity to get some advice from instructors/manufacturers. The GO Fest schedule is riddled with opportunities for would-be or established paddle boarders, road cyclists and fishing enthusiasts to get involved. Perfect for pre-summer preparations – learn now so you can be awesome later.
LEFT: Wet. RIGHT: Wild.

More Awesome Sporting Activities All Weekend

In addition to the light-hearted shenanigans, GO Fest hosts a range of events for skilled bikers, sailors, runners, kayakers, golfers and disc-golfers. Attracting the well-practiced and highly trained, the weekend also includes GO Enduro bike races, a GO Sail Regatta, The Great Cheakamus River Extreme Kayak Race and more. With cash prizes on the line for some of these contests, the competition standard is high, so if you’re not signing up definitely consider checking out the different displays of athleticism as a spectator. The May Long Weekend is the unofficial start of summer in Whistler, a time to welcome some weather, appreciate the beautiful outdoors, and kickstart that spirit of adventure. Okay….GO.

Whistler’s Great Outdoors Festival runs from May 15 – 18, 2015. For a full events breakdown, information on how to get involved and the best accommodation deals going, hit up

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