By Nicole Fitzgerald
Attendance was up both by patrons and international media, package tickets sales were up 45 percent, more than 2,700 tickets were sold, Crush! broke yet another early sell-out record, more restaurants jumped on board the winemaker dinner program and the quality of events was ramped up to bubbly blowing proportions.
There was a lot to celebrate, especially with Ullr in attendance.
The biggest surprise of the festival was ARTrageous this year. The Whistler Arts Council’s annual artist extravaganza gave other higher-ticketed events a serious run for their money in the entertainment-wow factor.
The playful event was one big creative explosion as patrons were led into the psyche of artists’ passionate minds. Artists couldn’t keep paint on the walls as Chili Thom and a friend painted each other’s suits, as well as a large canvas artwork. Live detailed body painting transformed the otherwise ordinary into a living Chinese doll. Patrons got into the fun by creating their own masks on site, posing for televised pictures and dancing to the non-stop grooves of Five Alarm Funk.
And all this downstairs at Dusty’s with another upstairs floor to go. The upstairs gallery exhibit was awe-inspiring. Artists’ individuality glowed through in works from contemporary acrylics to cutting-edge photography. I only hope next year the food and wine will match the calibre of talent showcased in the living artist exhibit.
The most improved accolade goes to the Bearfoot Bistro’s Masquerave party this year. The Moulin Rouge theme drew sensual yet tasteful costumes; everything from corseted can-can dancing girls to ruffled tuxedo shirts and top hats. Often over-sexed in year’s past, this party elevated itself from streetwalker to high-end call girl, focusing more on the tease than the reveal, leaving the imagination to roam in sensual shadows.
While the “painted ladies” were out in full force, the true stars of the evening were the guest executive chefs and kitchen staff hosting tasting teasers that packed the food area almost as tightly as ABBA Cadabra did the dance floor. Sparkling wine flowed generously well into the morning hours and thanks to a change of evenings — which meant people didn’t come from Crush! already sauced up — Masquerave wasn’t the drunken chaos of years past, letting the true celebration shine through.