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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.

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here are my top 5 favorite things to do in Whistler in December!

  1. Hit the slopes at Whistler Blackcomb
  2. Go Snowmobiling in the backcountry
  3. Relax at Scandinave Spa
  4. Go ziplining above snow-covered trees
  5. Try snowshoeing along Medicine Trail

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.

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 

People ski at Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
Whistler Blackcomb is a fun ski resort!

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 anytime between December and March. However, in January and February, the powder is at its best! 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, I began 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 (13- 99) start at $123 CAD, and for kids ages 7 to 12 at $63 CAD if purchased during pre-season (until Dec 3rd 2023.)

Regular season day passes will cost a whopping $299 CAD during the peak of the season if you purchase them at the resort on the day. That price does not include any early bird or pre order 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:

  • $299 for one day (ski only) for kids (3 – 12 years old). 
  • $299 for one day (ski/snow lessons) for kids (13-18 years old)
  • $319 for one day (ski/snow lessons) for adults

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. 

You can also pre-book your ski rentals or snowboard rentals here.

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 winter!

Hot Tip: There are some great ski-in ski-out hotels in Whistler. When choosing where to stay in Whistler for skiing, be sure to pick a hotel close to the chairlifts!

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

Backcountry skiing at Whistler
Backcountry skiing at Whistler

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

One of the most popular places the backcountry ski 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 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 $649 CAD 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 winter 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 $18.75 (adults) and $10.50 (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. 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. The tour costs $125 CAD but includes an expert guide, snowshoe rental, snacks, and transportation.

Snowshoeing in Whistler is easily one of the best winter 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 CAD for adults, $17.75 for youths, and $10 for children. On top of that, you’ll need to pay the entrance fee to use the trails, which is $30 for adults (subject to changes) for the day.

You can also book lessons if you’re a novice, seven days a week. Kids’ private lessons are $88/child per hour (it’s cheaper the more people you have.) Adult lessons start at $125 for one person.

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 

a group of smowmobilers in whistler, canada
One of the best winter adventure activities!

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, costs $282 CAD, and is filled with interesting information, breathtaking views, and of course, a ton of excitement – I loved it! The best part is that kids as young as five can join the tour. However, you need to be 19+ with a full, valid driver’s license to drive the snowmobile. You can book this snowmobile tour here.

If you’d prefer something a little more adventurous, then this Whistler Wilderness Run Snowmobile Tour is the best option. It also visits the Callaghan Valley but has the option to include a typical Yukon breakfast cooked on a wood stove. Mmmm, I can smell eggs and waffles now…

The tour is also 3 hours long and costs the same without the optional breakfast, which is an upgrade. You can book this snowmobile tour here.

This fun and exciting activity is a must-do at least once in your life and Whistler is one of the best places to do it!

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 

BLACKCOMB FAMILY APRES SNOWCAT
Snowcat tours!

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 

Ziptrek Ecotours winter ziplining
Photo credit: Ziptrek Ecotours

Did you know that you can go ziplining 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!

The best ziplining tour to do in Whistler in winter is this Zipline Adventure with Ziptrek Ecotours.

On this tour, we soared through the sky above the beautiful forests of Whistler Blackcomb, crossed suspension bridges, checked out treetop observation platforms, and walked ground-based trails. You’ll also be with an expert guide who will provide you with safety details, as this fun activity is a source of adrenaline! 

Be aware this is a cold tour, so you NEED to dress appropriately. The best thing to do is wear your ski or snowboard gear – that’s what we did. If you don’t have any, warm clothes and boots will suffice.

Related Read: For more fun activities in all seasons, check out the best tours in Whistler!

10. Go dog sledding

Bailey with one of the dogs on our dog sledding tour in Canada
This was the best part!
Bailey dog sledding in Canmore
Mush!

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 the winter months.

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 are run by Blackcomb Dog Sledding.

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 personally loved getting to know the dogs, and the tour from start to finish was really cool.

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 $110 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. You’ll also be able to eat at some of the best restaurants in Whistler!

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!

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 brewery crawl through some of Whistler’s best breweries? Whistler’s craft brewery scene is exploding and every year, new places are opening up.

The best breweries in Whistler to visit include Whistler Brewing Company, High Mountain Brewing Co., and Coast Mountain Brewing!

My favorite of the three is Whistler Brewing Company. They serve great beer and even better food. Try the nachos – you won’t regret it!

15. Join a distillery tour

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

Not a beer fan? That’s okay because Whistler has its very own local distillery!

Montis Distilling is a boutique distillery focused on creating spirits inspired by nature. That’s why you’ll find lots of interesting flavors, such as my favorite, Berries, and Basil (pictured above.)

You can just pop in and pick up some bottles to take home. However, I highly suggest doing this distillery tour and tasting experience.

This tour is held at the distiliery in 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 $88 CAD. After, when you get dropped back in Whistler you’ll get exclusive deals at The Raven Room (Whistler’s best cocktail bar!)

Where to Stay in Whistler in December

The room at the Adara in Whistler, BC
Our room had a suit below it!
Adara Hotel in 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.

Our go-to hotel in Whistler is the Adara Hotel. For us, it is the perfect mix of luxury and affordability with everything you need for a comfortable stay. They offer underground parking and are only a one-minute walk from the Whistler Stroll, so you can park your car and leave it while you explore Whistler Village. They also have a beautiful outdoor pool and hot tub offering mountain views – perfect for relaxing on a Fall evening. The loft rooms are our favorites and most also offer mountain views from the upstairs patio.

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. You can easily book on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

For luxury travelers, I obviously love the Fairmont Chateau 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 Discover Cars. 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!

Things to do in Vancouver

17 fun activities on Granville Island

Things to do in Vancouver in winter

Guide to Visiting Canmore in December