The Best Time to Visit Whistler – Ask a Local!
One of the things we most often get asked at Forged is: when is the best time to visit Whistler? But depending on which charming axe-throwing host you ask, you might get very different answers.
The powderhounds will tell you to come in deep winter when every morning is full of fresh powder and giant grins. Those crazy mountain bikers will tell you August is the best month of the year, as international bike festival Crankworx rolls into town. The sun worshippers will rave about lazy days floating on the lakes in June and July. And the long-time locals will let you in on their secret: the shoulder seasons of September and October hold some hidden gems.
What we’re basically saying is there’s no bad time to visit Whistler.
The best time to visit will depend on what you’re looking for: world-class skiing, gnarly downhill biking, stunning alpine hikes or heaps of family fun? So, to help you decide, we’ve pulled together Forged’s definitive guide to the best times to visit Whistler.
The Best Time to Ski in Whistler
Despite the endless choice of adventures available in Whistler now, skiing and snowboarding remain firm favourites with locals and visitors alike. Luckily, there’s skiing available for over six months of the year here, so you have plenty of choice for your Whistler ski trip. The season starts in mid-November and lasts until late May.
- Early season
In November and December, the snow is falling thick and fast. While the snow at the very start of the season can be changeable, you’re guaranteed short lift lines, cheap accommodation, and often amazing powder days, kept all to yourself.
Christmas is an amazing time to be in Whistler: it’s a true winter wonderland. With tons of activities for kids and families and festive menus in all the best restaurants in town, Christmas in Whistler is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Dog-sledding in the wilderness? Yes please!
- Mid-Season (January-February)
Late-January and February bring some of the best snow, and coldest temperatures of the year. With lift lines a little quieter than the holidays, this can be a great time to make the most of the slopes. The village is quieter too – except for during Spring Break – so you can take advantage of quiet slopes and great snow.
- Late Season (March-May)
The snow just keeps coming, and March and April can be amazing months for skiing too. The temperatures get warmer, evenings get longer and the potential for apres beers in the sun increases quickly. Outside of Easter, these are quieter months, and the longer days make for more time to play outside and explore everything Whistler has to offer.
The Best Time to Bike in Whistler
Mountain-biking has long-since been Whistler’s second favourite sport, and the world is catching up! The highlight of the bike season is Crankworx, the 10-day international mountain bike festival that takes over the village in August. Expect to mingle with professional bikers, watch some seriously scary bike races and enjoy the festival vibes throughout the whole village.
But the bike season lasts much longer than that. As soon as the snow starts to melt in May, the bikes are out. You’ll often hear locals planning their evening bike ride as they ride up the chairlift on their skis. In the early season, you can explore cross-country trails around Lost Lake, or head further afield to Squamish or Pemberton for world-famous bike routes.
- Whistler Mountain Bike Park
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park opens in May and stays open until October. For the hardcore, this is the place to test yourself against some of the world’s very best trails. The weather is best in June and July, with a mixture of rain and sun keeping the trails in great condition. Late season (September to October) can be great too, with cheaper tickets and quieter trails.
The Best Times to Visit Whistler: Season by Season
There’s plenty more than skiing and biking on offer in Whistler. Think camping, hiking, snowmobiling, fishing, dog-sledding, yoga, paddleboarding…. the list goes on. In the above clip –Noahvde a vlogger shows us just how versatile Whistler is!
But don’t forget about the incredible food, drinks, parties and festivals. Choosing the right time to make the most of your stay is crucial. There are four very distinct seasons in Whistler, each perfect in their own way. Here’s what we think are the best bits of each Whistler season.
Whistler in Winter – December to March
Why It’s Awesome: Winter in Whistler means one thing: snow, and lots of it. Winter is what we’re famous for, and we do it rather well, combining world-class skiing with high-class dining, family-friendly activities and some of the best views in the world.
Must-Do Activities: Grab a snowmobile and a backcountry guide and learn the ropes as you shred through pristine wilderness. Or if you like your adventures a little less motorized, snowshoeing is another popular activity that shows you the more serene side to Whistler. Or for the ultimate unforgettable experience, book a dogsled tour and fly through the forests and lakes with your very own team of hardworking huskies. For more ideas, check out our full list of the best winter activities in Whistler.
Best Deals: Keep an eye out for early booking deals. And don’t forget there are lots of free or cheap ways to have fun in the snow too: ice-skating on the frozen lakes, taking a walk around the valley trail, or renting snowshoes and taking off on your own adventure!
Don’t Miss: After all that outdoor adventure in the cold, a trip to the Scandinave Spa is the quintessential Whistler experience. Soak your aching muscles and warm your soul in their outdoor hot pools as the snow falls around you. And take the cold plunge, if you dare!
Prepare for the Weather: Generally, Whistler is warmer than other resorts like Banff and Jasper, because it’s so close to the ocean. Expect temperatures of between -10 and +5°C, and a mixture of colder sunny days and warmer snowy ones.
Whistler in Spring – April to May
Why It’s Awesome: By the time that April rolls around, everyone is Whistler is getting ready for some sun! The spring brings a lot of excitement to town, as the days get longer, and the options for an action-packed day open up. While there may still be great skiing in the alpine, in the valley it’s time for mountain biking, camping and exploring some of the best local hikes.
Must-Do Activities: This is the perfect season to explore Whistler valley. Hike to some of the nearby waterfalls and experience them at their very best. Or how about making the most of the snowmelt with a whitewater rafting trip? Whistler’s five pristine lakes also start to thaw in spring, so it’s a great time to spend a day fishing, paddleboarding or kayaking – or if you’re feeling brave, taking a dip!
Best Deals: Spring is the time when prices drop, last-minute deals can be found, and loads of local restaurants take part in It’s a Spring Thing. These deals give you the chance to sample the best local cuisine at a fraction of the normal price.
Don’t Miss: It’s festival season in Whistler, with the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in April, and GO Fest in May. Both involve getting outdoors, trying new things and meeting awesome like-minded people. Keep an eye out for the Saudan Couloir Race and the Slush Cup – both equally crazy in their own ways.
Prepare for the Weather: The best word to describe the Spring weather in Whistler is “changeable”. You might have 25°C days and baking sunshine, or you might get caught in a classic Pacific Northwest rain shower. So pack your raincoat and your bikini and you’ll be guaranteed a great stay.
Whistler in Summer – June to August
Why It’s Awesome: The long, hot summer days leave plenty of time for adventure and relaxation in Whistler. Laze by the lake all day, plan an overnight hike to a remote backcountry campsite, or explore the world-class bike trails with friends. You’ll be amazed at what you cram into just one day in Whistler in summer, let alone a week!
Must-Do Activities: Summer is the time to try the biggest zipline in North America, the Sasquatch, which flies through the air at over 100km/h between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Our local resident bears also like to make an appearance during the summer months. The best way to see them is on a guided bear tour with an expert, who will keep you and them safe, and teach you about their lives and habitats.
Best Deals: Book ahead and explore your options beforehand to get the best summer deals There are tons of affordable ways to explore Whistler in summer – whether on bike, foot or paddleboard – especially if you do your research beforehand. Save on accommodation by camping in one of the local, comfortable campsites. If you don’t fancy shelling out for dinner, why not finish the day with a BBQ by the lake?
Don’t Miss: With the snow melting in the alpine, beautiful alpine trails like the High Note Trail are only accessible for a short time, from late July – early September. The views are just as good as they are in winter, as you wind your way through meadows of wildflowers, looking down at secret alpine lakes and the endless coastal rainforest.
Prepare for the Weather: Things start to heat up in June, with temperatures often soaring to above 30°C for days on end during July and August. This is the perfect time to jump in those lakes for a refreshing dip after a long hike. Bring swimwear, sunscreen and plenty of water everywhere you go!
Whistler in Fall – September to November
Why It’s Awesome: People don’t seem to have quite caught on to Whistler in fall. And that means a quiet village, great discounts on activities and accommodation, and the sense that you’re in on a locals’ secret. Plus, there’s still tons of things to do inside and out, and some of the best festivals and events of the year.
Must-Do Activities: Fall is the time to embrace the weather and get muddy! Explore the backcountry on an off-road ATV or RZR adventure – best enjoyed when the puddles splash over your head! It’s also a great time to enjoy the last of the bike trails, as the park gets quieter and the trails get muddy again. If you like your activities a bit warmer and drier, then head inside to Forged Axe Throwing for the best indoor adventure you can have in Whistler.
Best Deals: Those shoulder season deals are back – so check out your favourite restaurants and see what they have to offer. There are also some amazing deals on accommodation in fall, so why not treat yourself to a night of luxury in one of the fanciest hotels in town, like the Fairmont Chateau or Nita Lake Lodge?
Don’t Miss: There are plenty of awesome events in fall in Whistler too. If you’re a foodie, then Cornucopia – an indulgent food and wine festival – is a must. For the creative types, don’t miss the Whistler Film Festival, which brings some of the best cinema of the year to Whistler. And of course, September brings hop-lovers from miles around for Whistler Village Beer Festival
Prepare for the Weather: While the sight of snow on the mountain brings a lot of excitement, unfortunately, that does mean there’s often rain in the valley. But we also get plenty of stunning, crisp autumn days, where the fall colours of the trees stand out against the bright blue skies, and you forget it ever rained at all. Expect temperatures between 0 and 15°C. and come prepared for everything from sun to snow!
The Best Time to Visit Whistler? You Choose
Whenever you choose to visit us, you can’t go that wrong. With so much to do year-round, and such diverse seasons, you might just have to come back again soon!