Every spring for the past 20 years, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival (WSSF) has celebrated the sports that have made Whistler special.
And each year, art, performance and music have played a prominent role, too.
"The World Ski and Snowboard Festival celebrates mountain culture in its entirety, so sports is a huge part of that, but there is a huge creative element to the mountain community as well," says Lauren Everest of Whistler Blackcomb.
WSSF takes place this year from Friday, April 10 to Sunday, April 19. The arts and entertainment component is both free and ticketed and covers the entire 10-day festival like a blanket.
There are the popular longstanding events such as the free outdoor concert series with 21 acts performing, there's the Skullcandy State of the ART exhibit that runs the length of the festival, and there are the annual one-night competitions — the 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown, the Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown and Intersection.
The festival opens with In the Beginning, a new event for 2015. Monster Energy and the Bearfoot Bistro are hosting a night of dance music by Smalltown DJs, DJ Pump and DJ Illo at the bistro on Saturday, April 11, from 9 p.m. Tickets are $35 and 19-plus.
"The whole concept there is to have a big party, first weekend, let's start the festival off right," says Everest.
And there are three other new events this year:
The Gibbons Plazapalooza — a free night of music, dancing and fire spinning, with DJ Mat the Alien. There is also a big-screen rebroadcast of the Gibbons Big Air show. It takes place on Saturday, April 11, on the mainstage at Skier's Plaza at 8 p.m.
Girls Getting' It Done movie night — celebrating women in film and sport with The Little Things by Darcy Turenne and Marie-France Roy, and Pretty Faces: The Story of a Skier Girl by Unicorn Picnic Productions. The filmmakers and featured athletes will be there to answer questions. It takes place on Monday, April 13, at the Rainbow Theatre, 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.
The Whistler Comedy Showdown finals — a competition over three weeks, with amateur stand-ups getting five minutes to show off their comedy chops. The top three plus a wildcard go through to the final for a chance to win $1,000. The showdown takes place at Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, 19-plus.
Asked why there are so many new events this year, Everest says the festival is always trying to keep it fresh.
"We try to evolve the festival every year. New events keep it interesting for everyone but we keep the signature events that everyone loves," she says.
When it comes to the favs, there are a lot to choose from.
The free Outdoor Concert Series on the mainstage of Skier's Plaza sees live music being performed every day. The Outdoor Concert Series performers for the first week are: Skiitour (Friday, April 10, 7 p.m.), The Sociables (Saturday, April 11, 3:30 p.m.), Neph (Saturday, April 11, 5:30 p.m.), Swollen Members (Saturday, April 11, 6 p.m.), The Railtown Prophets (Sunday, April 12, 2:30 p.m.), Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party (Sunday, April 12, 4 p.m.), Case of the Mondays (Monday, April 13, 2 p.m.), Longwalkshortdock (Saturday, April 13, 4 p.m.), Humans (Tuesday, April 14, 4 p.m.), and Longstride (Wednesday, April 15, 4 p.m.).
Many of the performers are also playing at bars around Whistler during the festival. Check Pique music listings for venues and acts.
The favourite signature events are also back, including world-class competitions and big prizes.
Multiplicity is a night of mountain culture stories, headlined by climber Will Gadd. With Kirby Brown, Suz Graham, Chris Winter, Tim Emmett, David McColm, Darcy Turenne and Julie Angus. It takes place at the Whistler Conference Centre on Sunday, April 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.
The Olympus 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown sees dozens of film teams making the best five-minute movie they can from Friday, April 10 to early Monday, April 13. The Best in Show will compete for a $10,000 first prize at a gala night on Wednesday, April 15, at the Whistler Conference Centre at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.
The Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown takes place on Thursday, April 16, at the Whistler Conference Centre at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30.
Intersection competition for sports filmmakers takes place on Friday, April 17, at the Whistler Conference Centre at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.
Along with these, says Everest, is State of the ART, with artworks by dozens of painters, photographers and more going on show at the Whistler Conference Centre.
Artwork can also be purchased on the festival's website (www.wssf.com).
For more on the last weekend of the festival, pick up the next issue of Pique Newsmagazine or visit www.wssf.com. Tickets can also be purchased on the website.