Some events should be on every skier's bucket list. You'll find 9 of them here.
Source: Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival
One thing we at Snowpak appreciate about ski season is that there's always something to celebrate – even if it falls outside of major holiday times. When Christmas and New Year's pass by, and spring break weeks are months away, one wonders where to go and what to do for something "festive" in the mountain towns across North America. We're here to let you know that there are plenty of winter-specific events going on this ski season, and this list will point you to some of the best. Stroll the streets of Park City for the uber-artsy Sundance Film Festival, or head to Jackson Hole for the pinnacle of après ski events with the biggest names in the ski culture industry. There's something for everyone at these major mountain town events this season. Keep reading to find the ones that suit you!
Sundance Film Festival
January 19-29, 2017
Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance Mountain Resort, Utah
The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the U.S. – 2016 brought in over 46,000 attendees and spread across mountain towns in the greater Salt Lake City area. National and international filmmakers submit their latest work, and screenings run throughout the 10 day festival. This is the biggest event of the year for Park City and Sundance, so expect all the stops to be pulled out at hotels, restaurants, and resorts. One thing we love about this festival (from the hardcore skier's perspective) is that the towns are bustling, but the mountains themselves are usually empty! If you'd like to party with the artsy and famous at night and enjoy empty slopes to yourself during the day, this is the event for you. Be sure to book lodging and restaurant reservations in advance.
Telluride Fire Festival
January 20-22, 2017
Source: Telluride Inside
Inspired by the iconic Burning Man festival in Nevada, Telluride decided in 2015 to put on its own celebration of larger-than-life fire art for visitors who might appreciate a slightly mellowed-out and more accessible version of Burning Man. The Telluride Fire Festival features interactive art shows and performances, entertainment, gala, and free workshops in welding and fire dancing. Because Telluride is popular with the arts, much of the festival is supported by donations and sponsorships. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind mountain town experience, and great for artsy adventurers and families alike.
X Games Aspen
January 26-29, 2017
Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen, Colorado
The Winter X Games are now an Aspen mainstay, and feature four mind-blowing days of actions sports and festivities – all of which are free and open to the spectating public. Package deals for VIP viewing options are available: some cater to those most stoked on the concerts, and others to those who want the best viewing and after-party options. Even if you just decide to watch an event for the afternoon, a trip to Aspen during this time is not one to miss. The town is alive with the best extreme snow sports athletes in the world. It's mostly popular with college students and 20- and 30-somethings excited to get in on the party atmosphere as well, but kids will get huge thrills from watching these athletes soar in the superpipe and park.
Banked Slalom Mt. Baker
February 10-12, 2017
Mt. Baker, Washington
This event – so rad it's called the Legendary Banked Slalom (LBS) – has been running for over 30 years. Snowboarders from all areas come out of the woodworks for a chance to throw down big runs down a course that includes jumps, bumps, rollers, and road gaps along a natural drainage ditch on Mt. Baker. It's known as the inspiration for the boardercross events that debuted later in the X Games, and winners of this legendary race get big bragging rights in the snowboard community (as well as a duct tape trophy and embroidered jacket). The weekend itself is pure fun for spectators, who can stand along the edges of the course to see big airs and sometimes big wrecks as athletes go all-out for the glory of a possible win.
Dates TBA for 2017
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Source: JH News & Guide
This list would not be complete without the ultimate après ski event of North America's ski season. Designed by a group of skiing and beer enthusiasts in Jackson Hole a few decades ago, gelande quaffing involves throwing a full beer (traditionally PBR) across a slippery table, your teammate catching it mid-air and drinking it as fast as they can, and repeating. In the World Gelande Quaffing Championships held annually at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, teams compete through several single-elimination rounds for the win while hundreds of spectators gather to watch the debauchery. This is the party side of ski culture at its finest, and not-to-be-missed by any big time après enthusiasts.
Audi FIS World Cup Squaw Valley
March 9-12, 2017
Squaw Valley, California
For the first time in 19 years, the FIS World Cup returns to Squaw Valley with a Women's Slalom and Giant Slalom taking place on the same run skied in the 1960 Winter Olympics. This will be a favourite for American competitors like Julia Mancuso and Mikaela Shiffrin, as well as a favourite for an American crowd. There is free standing room viewing at the finish area, and undoubtedly live streaming from favourite town bars. Some VIP viewing tickets may still be available – these also include dining and early morning lift access. This is an historic event that celebrates old and new ski culture of Squaw Valley and ski racing – we recommend it for all!
Breckenridge Spring Fever
April 1-23, 2017
Perhaps the longest-in-duration spring mountain town festival, Breckenridge's 3 week extravaganza of concerts, competitions, and parties brings the best of mountain town lifestyle to the masses. Free outdoor concerts from big name bands (TBA) and on-mountain challenges like the Mtn Dew Spring Open make for free fun for all. Downtown you'll find chilli cook-offs, beer tastings, merchant discounts and end-of-season celebrations spilling out onto sunny decks and historic streets. Note that because Breck' is so close to Denver, it's a huge destination for college spring break-ers: the town will be bustling with parties at night. We also love it for families who want quality daytime activities for kids, though.
Dates TBA for 2017
Source: Mt. Mansfield Ski Club
Music, costumes, and on-hill barbecues are all integral parts of the Sugar Slalom, a ski race for all ages that takes place annually at the beginning of April in Stowe, Vermont. The event celebrates the end of ski season and the start of spring (tapping of the maple trees in this part of New England), and brings in big names in ski racing history, as well as kids from all over the region looking for some late season competition thrills. Silly costumes are encouraged in this 2-day race, which sometimes brings in 1,000 competitors that race in a panelled slalom style. Local Vermont businesses often come to showcase their products, and yes, there is always plenty of maple syrup.
World Ski and Snowboard Festival
April 7-16, 2017
Whistler, British Columbia
Only Whistler could pull off naming this the World Ski and Snowboard Festival: they throw down an absolutely stunning week of major concerts and events at this not-to-miss spring blowout festival. Free daily concerts, comedy showdown, film screenings, art shows, silent disco and more make up the packed schedule taking place in Whistler and Blackcomb Villages. Meanwhile, because of Whistler's high elevation and proclivity to get huge snowstorms, skiing stays better than decent all the way through May. You'll have plenty of fun with sun-shiney days and mid-winter type coverage. Those looking for vibrant nightlife with a touch of artsy culture, head to Whistler this April.