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ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Whistler in December

ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Whistler in December

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Whistler is just a couple of hours north of Vancouver in the mountains of British Columbia. It’s a world-renowned ski destination that was made famous during the 2010 Winter Olympics— now it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Canada!

If you’re looking for a winter paradise, Whistler in December is it! With world-class skiing and winter sports along with beautiful sights and nature, your visit to Whistler is sure to be magical during this snowy and festive month.

In this blog, I’ve included everything you need to know if you plan on visiting Whistler in the month of December.

Why Visit Whistler in December

A beautiful lake near Whistler
Whistler is a winter wonderland in December

If you want me to define the beauty of winter in one word, I’ll say “Whistler.” This magical place is a winter wonderland that’s beyond your imagination. It’s home to tall mountain peaks, stunning alpine lakes, old cedar trees, and spectacular wildlife.

And the best part? There are a ton of awesome winter activities in Whistler in December!

It doesn’t matter whether you are a skier or not; there are many fun things you can do in Whistler while enjoying the glory of nature. In fact, the first time I visited Whistler in December I’d never skied before and instead kept myself busy with all of the other winter activities in Whistler.

Aside from all of the awesome winter activities, visiting Whistler in December means you get to experience all of the lovely holiday festivities and events as well!

So if you’re thinking about visiting Whistler in December this year, then look no further. This blog is all about everything you need to know about visiting Whistler in the month of December including the best events, activities, and so much more!

Whistler Events in December

Like I said, one of the best parts about visiting Whistler in December is the holiday events that occur during this time of year! There is no way to visit Whistler around Christmas and not get in the holiday spirit if you check out these events.

Festival of Trees

Outside of the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler in Decemebr
Head to the gorgeous Four Seasons for the Festival of Trees! Photo Credit: The Four Seasons Resort Whistler

Witness the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler as it transforms into a lush, radiant indoor Canadian pine forest. The best part? It’s for a good cause! Festival of Trees benefits BC Children’s Hospital.

The event is free and open to the public (hotel guest or not). Donations can be made to the cause by simply voting for your favorite tree!

Festival of Trees is an annual event that starts at the end of November and goes until early January, it’s easily one of the most popular events in Whistler in December.

Hot Tip: Consider staying at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler for an extra special experience. This place is beautiful, and it’s truly a winter wonderland in the month of December!

Whistler Holiday Experience

This free, indoor family fun event is held at the Whistler Conference Center. They have mini golf, table games, bouncy castles, crafts, and video games! Parents can play alongside, or relax in the lounge area while enjoying some hot cocoa or coffee.

The Whistler Holiday Experience is open from 10 am to 6 pm from the end of December to the beginning of January. It is closed on Christmas Day and is open from noon to 7 pm on New Year’s Eve.

Family Apres

Santa claus
Here comes Santa Claus!

Family Apres at Whistler Olympic Plaza has a variety of fun activities – snow sculpting, ice skating, musical and dancing performances, face painting, and arts and crafts just to name a few. Along with the activities, there are also snacks like popcorn and s’mores, as well as hot chocolate!

Official dates and times for Family Apres have not yet been released for 2021. Stay tuned for updates.

Attend the Whistler Film Festival

The Whistler Film Festival is another annual event that attracts large crowds. It is held the first weekend in December every year and attracts a lot of visitors. This event showcases up to 100 films – most local and indie productions.

There will be 100+ speakers offering interactive sessions. It’s all about tapping into the local filmmaking industry. 

For more great events, head over to Vancouver in December – the city is filled with them!

Things to do in Whistler in December

You are not going to be shy of experiences to be had in Whistler in December! If you are an outdoorsy person, Whistler is most definitely going to be your happy place! If the outdoors aren’t your thing— don’t worry! We have a few suggestions for you too.

1. Hit the slopes 

Whistler Blackcomb Shi Resort chairlift and mountain views
You have to ski Whistler Blackcomb to truly appreciate just how big the ski resort is!

Whistler Blackcomb is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. With over 4,757 acres / 1,925 hectares of skiable terrain, 36 lifts, and over 200 runs, Whistler Blackcomb is suited to the novice skier all the way up to the pro. I love this ski resort and I’m pretty certain you will too!

You can plan your visit to Whistler Blackcomb any day in December (including Christmas Day!) When it comes to lift passes, Whistler Blackcomb is one of the most expensive ski resorts I have visited – which to me was a little off-putting. However, once I was out there skiing you begin to see just how cool this resort is. It’s like visiting Canmore in winter and skiing all the resorts in the area in one day!

Lift passes for adults start at $190 CAD, kids ages 7 to 12 at $95, and teenagers 12 to 18 at $160. These prices do not include any early bird discount so if you know you’re skiing Whistler Blackcomb, book in advance to save money!

If you have kids that are learning to ski, then you can opt for daily group ski/snowboard lessons at Blackcomb at a price of:

  • $279 per day (ski only) for kids (5-6 years old). 
  • $245 per day (ski/snow lessons) for kids (7-14 years old)

Another thing that’s important to remember is that you have to book these lessons online. So make sure you book it three days before visiting Whistler, and if you go ahead with the private lessons, you have to plan it five days before your trip. 

Skiing is a popular winter activity anywhere in Canada, and with Whistler Blackcomb’s, huge mountain to explore, this is easily the most popular thing to do in Whistler in December!

Hot Tip: If you’re coming to Whistler in December for a ski holiday, there are a few hotels in Whistler that have the best location for skiing. Be sure to book them in advance to ensure you don’t miss out!

Related Read: Another popular ski town is Golden, BC – read all about the best things to do in Golden in winter!

2. Go snow tubing 

The snow tube park at Whistler Blackcomb
Although most think this is just for kids, it’s actually really fun for adults too!

If you’re feeling tired after long days skiing then it’s time to have a little fun that doesn’t involve so much effort. I’m talking about snow tubing. Do you know what the best part is? You don’t need to take classes, rent any equipment, or go the extra mile!

This fun activity is one of the best, especially for those who haven’t quite mastered skiing or snowboarding but still want to go down a hill fast!

The Bubly Tube Park is located on Whistler Blackcomb and even has its own magic carpet. You need to buy tickets from the tube park hut, and it’s best to go on weekdays. On weekends, the lineup can be huge and in all honesty, not worth the wait!

Tickets are sold in one-hour passes and a family of 4 can go for around $100 CAD, however, prices change yearly so be sure to check before you go.

There are some requirements for kids. Your child has to be three years old or a height of 36-inch (91 cm). If your child’s height is between 36-inch (91 cm) and 41-inch (103 cm), then only the mini kids’ lane will be open for them.

The Tube Park is on Blackcomb Mountain near parking lot 8, and there is free parking! You can also use the Excalibar Gondola to reach lot 8, but you have to walk if you don’t mind stairs.

Related Read: There is also a snow tube park in Banff. If you’re headed that way, read about all of the other fun things to do in Banff in winter!

3. Hit the backcountry slopes

person skiing in the backcountry in Whistler, BC
Skier on a snowy mountain, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

For those that want to get away from the crowds and explore the backcountry, Whistler in December is the perfect place for you.

One of the most popular places is in the Duffy Lake Area just northeast of Pemberton, BC around 1 hour and 20 minutes from Whistler. There are four main backcountry ski areas called Cerise Creek, Joffre Lakes, Marriott basin/Rohr, and Cayoosh. You can read more about them here but be aware experience is required to use these backcountry ski areas safely!

If you’re going, be sure to pop into the Whistler visitor center where you can find backcountry maps and guides as well as up-to-date avalanche information and tips.

If you’re not a pro but still want to experience something a little more adventurous then be sure to go back join a backcountry skiing and split-boarding tour. On this specific tour, you’ll head out with a professional guide with no lift tickets just your skis and a thirst for adventure. The tour, which lasts for 6 to 8 hours, gives people a great introduction to backcountry skiing as well as a ton of safety information. There’s fresh powder, steep terrain, and no chairlifts or lift lines.

Prices start from $239 and that doesn’t include ski rentals either, however, if you want to get away from the crowd, this tour is best for you!

4. Go snowshoeing 

Snowshoeing in Whistler
It’s so quiet in the forests around Whistler in December!

Immerse yourself in the glory of the winter wonderland that is Whistler by snowshoeing on some of the beautiful trails nearby. The best part is that snowshoeing is a winter activity for all ages, so it will be fun even if you have small kids. I myself love snowshoeing simply because I am an avid hiker and when December comes around, snowshoeing makes winter hiking easier (and in some cases, possible.)

One of the best places to go snowshoeing in Whistler is at Whistler Olympics Park. There are over 30 kilometers of marked trails, 15 of which are dog-friendly (yay for the pups!) You can choose to go self-guided or take a private tour depending on what experience you’re looking for. Rentals are also available for $16 (adults) and $10 (children).

Other places you can snowshoe around Whistler include Lost Lake Park and Ski Callaghan. These areas offer lots of snowshoeing trails to explore but there is an entrance fee at both places (rentals are also available). With that though, comes well-marked trails and even maps.

For more “backcountry” snowshoeing routes head to the Sea to Sky Trail, Train Wreck Trail, and even the Cheakamus Trails. Simply rent your snowshoes and pop into the Whistler Visitor Centre for maps of the trails as well as safety information.

If you still don’t feel comfortable hitting the trails on your own or just want to learn more from an expert guide then join this Medicine Trail snowshoe tour starting at $113. This guided hike lasts for 2.5 hours and will take you on a journey to the mysterious forest through Medicine Trail. See tall cedar trees, explore Trapper’s Cabin and even Totem Pole Lake.

Snowshoeing in Whistler is easily one of the best December activities simply because it’s cheap, suited to most visitors, and the views are spectacular!

5. Cross-country skiing 

Cross country skiing in Whistler, BC
Going down is still my favorite part haha!

Visiting Canada in December, it’s easy to find yourself indoors a lot. That’s why I started to cross country ski. It’s cheap, fun, and you get a great workout!

In Whistler, cross country skiing is very popular and I myself just had to try out the trails at Whistler Olympic Park. The park is home to 90 km of trails marked as easy (green), intermediate (blue), and advanced (hard). Enjoy the breathtaking viewpoints and get a workout while you’re at it.

Rentals are available at Whistler Olympic Park for $32.50 CAD for adults, $18 for youths, and $10 for children and on top of that, you’ll need to pay the entrance fee to use the trails which is $16.50 (subject to changes) for the day.

You can also book lessons if you’re a novice, 7 days a week. Kids private lessons are $50/child per hour. There are even introductory group lessons that you can try. For example, introduction to classic skiing and skate skiing is only $60, but with a rental, you can get it for $75. The minimum age requirement is 13 years old, and you have to take it between 11 am to 12:30 pm.

If you have never cross country skied before and don’t want to do lessons then simply stick to the groomed tracks. These are grooves on the ground that make the sport much easier even for first-timers. I still only use these!

6. Go Snowmobiling 

Snowmobiling in Whistler
I guarantee this will be the highlight of your trip to Whistler in December! Photo credit – Canadian Wilderness Adventures

Snowmobiling is the perfect December activity in Whistler for those who love an adrenaline rush – not to mention you can let the snowmobile do the work!

In Whistler, it’s best to join a snowmobiling tour as it’s very unlikely you’re arriving with you’re own snowmobile (if you are then congrats!) The Callaghan Cruiser Snowmobile Tour is a great option that takes you through the Callaghan Valley and to the abandoned NorthAir gold mine. You’ll also visit an open area known as a play area that’s perfect for seeing just what a snowmobile can do.

In total, the tour is 3 hours long and is filled with interesting information, breathtaking views, and of course a ton of excitement. The best part is that kids as young as 5 can join the tour, however, you need to be 19+ with a full, valid driver’s license to drive the snowmobiles.

7. Go hiking

A train sits in the snow on the Train Wreck Trail, Whistler
In December the trail is uncrowded and really peaceful. On top of that, the trains look really cool in the snow!

Hiking in December can be done in Whistler especially with its well-trodden trails and warmer weather.

If you want to go hiking without snowshoes, Train Wreck Trail is an exciting place to visit. Although also a snowshoeing route, the trail receives a fair amount of traffic so the snow is usually compact enough to do it in a good pair of hiking boots. The Train Wreck Trail visits some abandoned train carriages left there in the 50s. It’s a unique spot and the trail is only 2 kilometers return.

If you don’t mind driving a little out of town on the Sea to Sky Highway you can also visit Brandy Wine Falls. This short 1-kilometer return trail leads to a stunning waterfall that in winter is even more spectacular.

Last is The Valley Trail. This vast network of trails is almost always free from snow due to its elevation and the fact it’s a paved trail. There are 45 kilometers (28 miles) of trails here that wind their way around Whistler town and the lakes in the area.

8. Join a Snowcat tour 

Have you ever wondered what an igloo is like? Well if you join the Blackcomb family apres snowcat tour you’ll be able to find out. This 19 passenger snowcat is heated, comfortable, and takes you out into the snowy mountain to see a real-life igloo. On top of that, you’ll get to enjoy warm beverages in the igloo just to make the experience all the more memorable.

This tour starts at $129 CAD and departs at 4:30 pm in the winter months only.

If that doesn’t sound like enough to you then there’s also a dinner tour. On the same snowcat, you’ll be taken to the crystal hut to enjoy dinner under the stars. This tour was awarded the Canadian Signature Experience and departs at 7:15 pm and starts at $229.

9. Go ziplining 

Ziplining in Whistler with Superfly Ziplines
Ziplining is even cooler in December! Just look at those views! Photo credit – Superfly Ziplines

Did you know that you can go zip lining in Whistler in winter months like December!? Neither did I before I arrived, but after seeing a group get ready in town I was shocked! Needless to say, this really is one of the coolest December activities in Whistler and it’s not even a typical winter activity!

Ziplining tours in Whistler start at $146.59 CAD and this specific tour lasts for 2.5 hours. On the tour, you’ll soar through the sky at speeds of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) an hour and enjoy one of the longest zipline trips in Canada. You’ll also be with an expert guide who will provide you with safety details as this fun activity is a source of adrenaline! 

There are some requirements for the tour such as your weight shouldn’t be more than 113 kg (249 lbs) and less than 27 kg (60 lbs). This activity is for seven years and up. It’s open year-round, so dress accordingly. 

10. Go dog sledding (in Squamish)

Dog sledding in Canada
Off we go!

Would you believe that the activity of dog-sledding is over 4000 years old?! Back then it was a necessary aspect of life in Northern Canada. Nowadays, it is a memorable experience that’s not-to-be-missed when visiting Whistler in December.

Squamish Dog Sledding is a true Canadian experience and your sleds are pulled by either Siberian or Alaskan huskies through incredible mountain scenery. Would you believe you will reach speeds of up to 35 km per hour! The tours are run in the Callaghan Valley (between Squamish and Whistler) and there are free shuttles available from Whistler.

You can choose to sit back and relax in your cozy sled or stand on the back of the sled and drive the dog team!

I myself did dog sledding in the winter in Canmore, Alberta, and loved it. What an adventure that involved lots of time playing with the dogs (my favorite part!)

Related Read: Learn about all of the different things to do in Squamish.

11. Relax at a spa

Scandinave Spa, Whistler in winter
Can you imagine anything more relaxing!? Photo credit -Scandinave Spa

Scandinave Spa is located just a few minute’s drive from Whistler Village in a Nordic-inspired outdoor spa that’s surrounded by native forest. It’s huge at 20,000 square feet and is the best way to relax after a long day of adventuring around Whistler in December.

The outdoor baths are mirrored on old Finnish traditions and have the added benefit of being surrounded by Whistler’s incredible natural beauty. You can also get a traditional Scandinavian massage to truly relax after having all the fun in Whistler.

Whistler’s most unique spa is open from 10 am – 9 pm daily. Access to the baths starts at $75 CAD per adult. 

12. Walk through Whistler Village

Whistler Village in winter
The gorgeous Whistler Village! Photo credit – Mardzpe Depositphotos

Walk through the pedestrianized Whistler Lower Village starting at Mountain Square (next to the Pan Pacific Hotel) and ending at Village Square. The path is wide and paved and cleared regularly of snow.

Stop at the many stores along the way and see apres-ski in full swing at LonghornsBrasserie, and other pubs. Grab a coffee at Purebread, you have to try one of their baked goods too – you won’t be able to resist when you see them all laid out. 

This is a great way to see Whistler and get a real feel for this fun town! At night, Christmas lights are everywhere making it a truly beautiful scene.

Related Read: Check out the top 5 best coffee shops and cafes in Whistler!

13. Try axe throwing

Are throwing in Canada
Give it a try it’s surprisingly fun! I first tried axe throwing on a winter trip in Kelowna, but it’s also very popular in other destinations in Canada including Whistler.

Axe-throwing is sure to get people at home talking – and once you try it you won’t believe how much fun it is! It’s an hour-long session and to be honest, you’ll probably spend most of the hour trying to get the hang of throwing an axe. However, your experienced coach will also encourage you to get involved in some fun axe-throwing games. I actually got the hang of it after 30 minutes and even hit some bullseye!

They sell craft beer as well as other alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) beverages for you to enjoy after your session – I don’t recommend drinking too much while you’re axe-throwing though!

Forged Axe Throwing is located in Function Junction, a 15-minute drive from Whistler Village and you can book your tickets in advance online. The experience costs $45 CAD for an hour-long session.

14. Drink lots of craft beer

At Whistler Brewing drinking a beer
Escape the cold with a craft beer!

Whilst on the topic of alcohol, why not consider a 4-hour brewery crawl through some of Whistler’s best breweries? Whistler’s craft brewery scene is exploding and every year new places are opening up.

On this specific tour, you’ll get to try 16 beer tastings over 4 different breweries over 4 hours all while your local guide shares interesting facts about Whistler and answers any questions you have. You’ll also be given some tasty appetizers along the way.

When the tour is finished you get exclusive access to an after-party because if there’s one thing Whistler knows how to do it’s party!

15. Join a distillery tour

Selection of liquor at Montis Distilling
Craft liquor anyone? Photo credit Montis Distilling

This tour is held in the neighborhood of Function Junction – 15 minutes from Whistler. It’s a 2-hour tour and includes a guided tour of Montis Distilling where you’ll get to taste all of their liquor and get a free charcuterie box by Picnic Whistler. I recommended trying everything but especially the Alpenglow Gin!

Pick up and drop off from Whistler Village is provided and the tour only costs $70 CAD. After, when you get dropped back in Whistler you’ll get exclusive deals at The Raven Room (Whistler’s best cocktail bar!)

Related Read: Want to go on a fun road trip from Whistler? Check out the scenic drive from Whistler to Revelstoke!

Where to Stay in Whistler in December

Pinnacle Hotel, Whistler
A cute but well-priced hotel! Photo credit – Pinnacle Hotel Whistler

As you can imagine, Whistler is a mountain town filled with great hotels. Better yet, the prices in winter months like December are typically cheaper than in summer in Whistler, so you can get yourself some great deals by booking in advance. Still, Whistler is an expensive town so expect to pay a little more.

For budget travelers, Pangea Pod Hotel is a great option. It’s a basic hotel with pod-style rooms with clean, well looked after facilities. The location is also really good and you are within walking distance to the ski lifts in Whistler Upper Village. One thing to note is this is not your typical hotel and it does lack privacy due to the style of rooms. However, for location and price, it’s the best low-cost option.

If you can spend a little more (my typical category) then you can certainly get privacy in a good location. The Pinnacle Hotel Whistler is my personal choice when I visit Whistler (unless there’s a crazy deal somewhere else.) The hotel is located in the heart of Whistler Upper Village, features a fitness center, hot tub, pool, and restaurant. On top of that, it’s only 500 meters from the chairlifts.

For luxury travelers, I obviously love the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, but another option slightly cheaper is the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Its location is perfect for luxury skiers because it’s only 250 meters (820 feet) from the closest gondola. On top of that, it has all the luxury facilities you’d expect such as a heated, outdoor pool and 2 hot tubs with mountain views, a fitness center, a spa and wellness center, as well as an included breakfast. Oh, and all suites have a full kitchen!

Renting a Car in British Columbia

Winter road in British Columbia, Canada
Get out and explore in a rental car. The views from the road are just as amazing as the destination!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between cities and even just getting out to the best attractions within them requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Rental Cars.com all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada and using crown land and campsites you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Before you go…

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie in Jasper National Park
Thanks for reading!

Whistler in December is truly is a winter wonderland and you’re sure to enjoy a holiday there at this time of year. With plenty of festive activities and fun things to do in Whistler in December, it’s going to be a trip to remember!

For more great blogs be sure to browse around this site a little more. Here are a few favorites covering other areas of British Columbia!

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