04/16/2014 01:02 EDT | Updated 06/16/2014 05:59 EDT

Whistler's World Ski & Snowboard Festival Celebrates Mountain Culture

Johannes Kroemer via Getty Images
STOWE, VT - JANUARY 16: Jake Burton snowboarding during a photo on January 16, 2007 on Stowe Mountain, Stowe,Vermont. (Photo by Johannes Kroemer/Getty Images)

Party in April. Sleep in May. Every spring in Whistler the World Ski & Snowboard Festival's motto comes to life as thousands of fans descend on this iconic mountain resort two hours drive north of Vancouver to partake in North America's largest annual snow sports, music, and mountain culture celebration.


Featuring a non-stop series of free outdoor concerts, innovative pro fashion, photography and film competitions and industry parties, WSSF takes Whistler by storm each April. And after sampling the opening weekend of this year's edition, which runs until April 21, I can safely say that this 10-day party is well worth attending -- even if you don't know a half pipe from a drain pipe. Here are a few reasons why.

Free tunes

With Canada's largest annual free outdoor concert series featuring hot young DJs and bands running daily on the Main Stage in Skier's Plaza, plus headliners like EDM heavy hitters Glitch Mob and neo-psychedelic hip-hop icons De La Soul, the festival soundtrack rarely skips a beat.


Edgy art

At the opening night Scullcandy State of the Art party plenty of creativity was on display. From the work of young, up-and-coming Whistler artists and an interactive 3-D art installation to a digital graffiti competition, this temporary art gallery in the Whistler conference Centre features cutting edge artists from all over the world showcasing their mountain culture inspired work.


Powerful pictures

With everything from ski and snowboard photography, to surfing, biking, skateboarding, and lifestyle filmmaker competitions, WSSF is a feast for the eyes. One of the most prestigious action sports photography competitions in the world, the Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown showcases the work of industry legends. And the Intersection action sports film competition requires six top crews to shoot, edit, and produce a short ski and/or snowboard film in just a week. The winner gets instant classic bragging rights.


Flurries of snow shows

With big-bucks pro competitions that challenge the best skiers and snowboarders in the world to step up their game, WSSF provides enough big air, shredding and slopestyle action to keep audiences of up to 10,000 enthralled. Mere mortals also have a wide selection of demos to choose from. And with piles of spring snow still to be skied, hitting the slopes of North America's #1 mountain resort is always a tempting option.


If You Go

Whistler's World Ski and Snowboard Festival runs until April 20. Tickets and info.

Where to stay

Located in the heart of Whistler Village but just far enough away from the midnight mayhem to guarantee a good night's sleep, Summit Lodge is a convenient option. Rates start at $99 during the week, and $129 at the weekends.


After a hard day on the hill, head for the tranquil Scandinave Spa on the northern edge of Whistler for a soothing eucalyptus steam bath, Nordic waterfall, Finnish sauna and hot-cold-relax hydrotherapy.