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Whistler's winter programming kicks off today

Skating at Olympic Plaza, Family Après, holiday season events on tap

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IT'S BEGINNING to look a lot like... early October?

Natural snow in the valley or not, Whistler's winter programming kicks off today with the opening of the skating rink at Olympic Plaza.

"Come to Whistler Village for a range of activities for every age. There is outdoor skating, family entertainment, festive lights and more to choose from. Whistler is renowned for the incredible winter activities on offer," said Mayor Jack Crompton in a release.

Skating at Olympic Plaza—open as of 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29—is free if you bring your own skates, while skates can be rented for $7.

The rink is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (though it's closed for daily maintenance between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m.).

Strollers are welcome and helmets and skate aids are available for free.

Find more info at whistler.ca/skating or by calling 604-935-PLAY (press 3).

Snow guns are also working overtime to prep the Snow Zone at Whistler Olympic Plaza, which will soon be open to the public for free tobogganing and sliding.

Other holiday events include:

-Family Après at Olympic Plaza (Mondays and Thursdays in December, starting Dec. 9, from 3 to 6 p.m.): Sip a hot beverage and enjoy ever-changing entertainment that includes live music, dancing, face painting, hula hooping, characters in costume, balloon twisting animals, arts and crafts, popcorn, cookies, doughnuts, juggling and games.

-Festive lighting: Up to 350,000 bulbs in total, with about 7,000 bulbs on each tree, transform Whistler Village into a winter wonderland each holiday season. The lights are put up gradually, so you will notice new lights in the early weeks of the season.

-Nordic skiing and snowshoeing: The Lost Lake Nordic Trails are being prepared, but require snow accumulation and consistent cold temperatures before they will open for the season.

Once operational, the trails will offer more than 25 kilometres of groomed and track set trails for cross-country skiing with majestic views of iconic Lost Lake as well as Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There will be 15 kilometres of snowshoe trails for exploration and four kilometres of lit trails for night skiing.

-Whistler Holiday Experience: From Saturday, Dec. 21 to Sunday, Jan. 5, the Whistler Holiday Experience offers a fun, free range of indoor activities at Whistler Conference Centre. Kids can enjoy mini putt golf, table games, bouncy castles, crafts and video games, while parents can relax in the lounge area and enjoy coffee or cocoa while the kids play. The Whistler Holiday Experience is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; it is closed on Dec. 25 and open from 12 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 31. Santa is attending Dec. 21 and 22 from 12 to 3 p.m.

-Whistler's New Year's Eve Celebrations: The festivities start early at Whistler Olympic Plaza, with an expanded Family Après from noon to 5 p.m. where everyone can experience a taste of Canadian outdoor fun. Or come in from the cold and discover a variety of activities at the Whistler Conference Centre from noon until 7 p.m. This will be followed by the High-Flying Snow Show at 7:30 p.m. and an early countdown and fireworks show at 8 p.m. Later there's a Special Edition Fire & Ice Show at Skiers Plaza from 11:30 p.m. with a colourful, grand finale fireworks show at midnight. Find more details at www.whistler.ca/events/celebrate-new-years-eve-whistler-village.

Whistler's holiday programming is supported by the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative and Municipal and Regional District Hotel Tax.

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