Ask anyone who goes on regular skiing holidays to name the best thing about them and, apart from the snow, they’d probably say the après. And they’d be right.
For those of you aren’t ski bunnies, après is French for ‘after’ and refers to the food and drinks you grab with your mates once your day on the slopes is over. Or, if you’re hardcore, or, well, British, you don’t save it for after the slopes and hit the bars throughout the day!
I had my fair share of après while I was living in Whistler, Canada. After two years of it, I think it’s safe to say my diet was in drastic need of change. Beer, nachos and wings make for a bloody great treat in between runs but it ain’t so good for the waistline…or heart.
But what the hell, do it anyway.
In Europe, après ski is wild. Think dancing on the tables, champagne flowing, special guests, world-renowned DJ’s and competitions. In places like Val d’Isère – the liveliest of the French resorts – you’ll find on-mountain parties at La Folie Douce which houses DJ’s, live music and cabaret entertainment on an open terrace all afternoon. Sounds great, right!?
In Whistler, it’s a little different. Après is huge every day of the week and there’s something for everyone but because it’s in North America, rules and regulations mean it tends to be a little tamer.
But, you can always count on certain days and weeks of the year for things to get out of control like Australia Day when the Aussies go rogue, Martin Luther King Weekend when American students cross the border to legally drink and Gay Pride Ski Festival when everything is outrageous.
I’ve picked my top 5 hangouts for après in Whistler to make your next visit a wild one 😉
- Dubh Linn Gate – This Irish bar is the closest thing you’ll get to a proper pub in Whistler and does great food. Guinness and Magners cider on tap, plus darts and a live Irish band most afternoons and evenings, make it my absolute favourite spot. It also has outdoor fire pits to keep you warm on cold nights.
- Beacon Pub – A more chilled, much smaller pub, Beacon is popular with locals. It has some good happy hours, a good range of drinks and free pool. What’s not to love!?
- Longhorns – Always busy, this one sits at the bottom of Whistler mountain in the village. It has a large outdoor patio with fire pits at some tables, outdoor TVs showing sports and is known for its lively atmosphere thanks to DJs on the roof outside in the midst of Winter. I challenge anyone to walk past without wanting to go in.
- Crystal Bar and Lounge is somewhat of a secret locals hangout, so you’re welcome. It’s tucked away so is overlooked by a lot of tourists but this means it has a good vibe because it’s not packed to the brim with out-of-towners like the majority of place in Whistler. Happy hour is always varied and $35c wings mean everyone has a good time. Tuesday is karaoke day. Love it or hate it, it can bloody funny to watch or take part!
- Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC) – another Whistler village hangout, GLC has just expanded its outdoor patio area to include fire pits and lots more seating. There’s also a DJ booth outside so is always pretty lively. Look out for DJ duo SkiiTour, who spin the tunes on the patio once a month. Best. Night. Ever.
Other spots to check out: Dusty’s in Creekside village, Fitzsimmons Pub in Upper Village, Brandy’s Sports Bar and Brickworks pub. Each week there’s also a huge Swedish Party at Cinnamon Bear Bar and Grill (affectionately known as ‘Cinnie Bear’ to the locals) with a band, DJ and great happy hour prices. There’s also Coast Mountain Brewery and Whistler Brewery located in Function Junction.
And remember, it isn’t apres-ski without a ski shot!