Whistler After Dark: A Nightlife Guide

Whistler nightlife
Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane
Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane

It might be a toss-up, but nightlife ranks only a close second behind the world-class skiing and snowboarding in Whistler. In British Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb is one of North America’s largest ski resorts. And the European-inspired, pedestrian-only alpine village at the base is made for fun.

 

Friendly and boisterous, Whistler’s nightlife is casual and fun loving. There’s no need to dress up — you won’t be alone if you show up in your ski pants and boots — and everything is walkable. Revelers start early, go hard, and then head home to the hot tub.

For the most part, each venue claims its own night, with the party shifting from place to place depending on the day. Buffalo Bills big dance floor, for example, is optimal on Wednesdays, Industry Night. Check Whistler Club Crawl to see what’s on when.

 

Do you want to catch up with friends over cocktails or dance til dawn? Whatever the mood, here are the top hot spots.

Dance

Mondays are for 80s retro night with DJ Ryder at local institution Tommy Africa’s — approachable and high-energy — and prizes go to those with the best 80s getup. This nightclub on the main Village Square with go go dancers and DJs from near and far, always has a full dance floor, whether  hip hop, funk, or top 40 are playing. Sundays are also good here. Saturdays mean raucous DJ Dance Party night at Buffalo Bills Bar & Grill across from the Whistler Gondola. Bills also has live music, pool, big-screen TVs, and comedy shows. Stay up late with the locals on Thursdays at trendy hangout Garfinkel’s (“Garfs”) on the biggest dance floor in town, play pool, or skateboard on a mini ramp in the bar. Hipsters like mid-village Moe Joe’s Nightclub, billed as Whistler’s “wildest.” Go for crowds, drink specials, great music, and long nights of dancing to bands or internationally-known DJ. Fog, lights, and dance poles add to the atmosphere, plus events like techno nights and Sunday Glow parties, where everyone wears glow-in-the-dark necklaces and body paint, are a bonus.

People-watch on the patio

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With its rustic cabin motif and rowdy vibe, Merlin’s Bar and Grill in the Upper Village is the hands-down “it” spot. Aprés afternoons are ideal on the huge patio over drink specials and nachos. Then after 9, the place changes its scene with music, DJs, and dancing. Overlooking the mountain base, Longhorn Saloon & Grill with its outdoor gas fire pit and packed patio is another standby for microbrew, snacks, and good vibes. Wherever you go, a patio night somewhere in the village is a must. Heated outdoor spaces and umbrellas mean you can enjoy an al fresco brew even when snow is falling.

Chill

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If relaxing over a pint is your thing, pull up a seat at the high-ceiling, exposed-beam Brewhouse, the town’s first craft master. This spacious bar-restaurant with a sprawling patio is ideal for recounting the day’s adventures, playing pool, and sampling five craft ales and lagers over BBQ and brick-oven pizza. There are usually seasonal suds on offer, too. If you want something more intimate, cozy into a leather chair by the fireplace in the Westin’s handsome upscale wood-and-stone FireRock Lounge for a quiet aperitif or to catch the hockey game on the big screen.

Toast the night

Traditional-style Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub & Restaurant is a favorite watering hole. It’s everything you want: Mellow lighting, lots of mahogany, 60 whiskies plus stouts and 20 draught beers, and Irish comfort food like Guinness Pie. Something more highbrow? Taste flights of BC red or white wine on inviting patio sofas of Basalt over house-made salami and charcuterie. If you’re looking for the best selfie opp, sipping chilled vodka in Bearfoot Bistro’s sub-zero Ice Room is a Whistler rite of passage. You’ll be surprisingly toasty in the fluffy goose-down parka and gloves provided.

Listen to music

You don’t have to go far to hear music in Whistler. Most places have some kind of entertainment going on every night of the week, whether it’s a band, thumping sound system, DJ, or guest singer. Near the  gondolas, mellow, softly lit Black’s Pub and Restaurant (and patio) is great on Wednesdays, open mic night, and Saturdays for live music and the occasional jam session.  Order some bison ribs and yam fries, and take in the tunes. Go to the Westin’s FireRock Lounge on Tuesdays for Locals Live, showcasing acoustic music.

Dine out

If eating well is your idea of a night well spent, Whistler’s got 100 dining options from haute cuisine — Araxi Restaurant + Oyster Bar and Bearfoot Bistro — to casual — Caramba! Restaurante, Mongolie Grill, and 21 Steps Kitchen + Bar. The dining scene is creative, contemporary, and seasonal as well as farm-to-table centered. Get a good overview on one of Whistler Tasting Tours culinary adventures.

Join the festival

Visit during one of Whistler’s many festivals for a village-wide party. There’s April’s Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival, August’s Crankworx — gravity-fueled racing, demos, and events — and the November-to-December film festival. Try the creations of some 60 breweries at September’s Beer Festival, and splurge in November at the popular food and wine celebration called Cornucopia.

 

The day after, take your time exploring the village, perfect for strolling, shopping, and caffeinating at a bustling café. Just get your map and get started.

Find out what’s on in Whistler at the Tourism Whistler website.

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