We've been waiting a full year and now the fall festival we call Cornucopia is back.
Cornucopia returns with wine tasting, cocktail events, chef's dinners, parties and seminars.
The festival continues through to Sunday, Nov. 11 offering something for every budget from the Whistler Chef's Challenge today in the Whistler Conference Centre Grand Foyer to the $150 a ticket High Roller event at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler or the $155 Bubbles + Oceans event at Araxi.
The festival this year has grown to a five-day festival from a four-day festival last year.
Jess Smith of Watermark, the company producing the event, says this is significant as event organizers look to pull Cornucopia out to a ten-day event in 2013.
The director of partnerships with Tourism Whistler (TW), Breton Murphy, says we should expect to see more participation from the beer and spirits sector in 2013.
"We think we're going do more of a hops and scotch weekend to start with," says Smith, "and then do more of a wine tasting weekend because it is just too much of an ask to get these wineries to do two weekends."
The vision is to split things up with a beer and liquor weekend, special restaurant dinners during the week and then wrap it up with a wine tasting weekend. Of course, the successful seminars and the events in the foyer of the conference centre will return.
Murphy says festival visitors this year will see hints of where things are going next year. The "drink component" of things has been elevated for this year with new events like Eau de Vie at the Four Seasons and the marTEAni event planned for the Fairmont Chateau Whistler or the Butcher and Brewmaster at the Dubh Linn Gate.
"Cornucopia represents a festival that is really truly indigenous to the resort," says Murphy. "It's a reflection of what we offer in terms of food and wine and the culinary scene. The cocktail scene in the last couple of years here has really exploded. It's quite hot and we've got some fantastic mixologists doing really neat things working with chefs."
He notes that it just makes sense at a time when Whistler has rooms available and while bars and restaurants also have numbers of seats and stools that traditionally sit empty while the resort residents find themselves constantly checking the forecast and watching the snowline when the clouds part long enough to give a glimpse up to the mountain summits.
"It is always about showcasing what's special about Whistler," says Murphy.
What happens this year will really be a glimpse into the expanded fall festival on the horizon for next year.
"This is all what we foresee a year out," says Smith. "We're definitely honing in and we'll work it out as we go along."
We'll put the crystal ball away and focus on now – these next few days.
Here, with help from Smith and Murphy, are the Pique's picks this weekend. These are some of the highlight events to hit.
BEST OF THE VINOS
The best of wine comes to the silver screen in the form of short films about B.C. wine and wineries with an after-party featuring a DJ and an opportunity to chat with the producers and makers of the films.Where: Whistler Conference CentreWhen: Thursday from 8:45 to 11 pmCost: $30Threads: your red carpet Hollywood best
Expert comment: Smith watched a few films and she highly recommends this event for film lovers and producers who are thinking of making a wine movie.
"We're bringing Hollywood to Whistler," says Smith while noting that at a cost of $30 a ticket this party represents an excellent value.
EAU DE VIE: A SPIRITED AFFAIR
This is a new event this year featuring DJ Tyson V serving up the beats while Patron Tequila & Remy Martin Cognac bring the spirit. The bar will be transformed into "a chic haven of liquidity" with gorgeous lighting and décor. It is for those who want a Friday alternative to the gambling themed High Rollers event.Where: Fifty two 80 Bar at the Four SeasonsWhen: Friday from 9:30 pm to 1 amCost: $100Threads: cocktail party sultry chic
Expert comment: Smith says to expect high-end drinks and canapés.
"It is going to be a fantastic typical Whistler Four Seasons event," she guarantees.
Another new event. While the Southside Diner might not be the first place Whistler regulars think of when it comes to fine food, take another look as this promises to be something different with See Ya Later Ranch winery on board for an upscale brunch.Where: Southside DinerWhen: Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2pmCost: $25Threads: just don't arrive in your pajamas
Expert Comment: Smith says this event is designed to help get over the night before.
"Its not a structured time," says Smith. "You book your ticket and you can turn up any time between nine and two."
A tea-infused martini party, a mid-day indulgence in finger sandwiches and warm scones with fresh Devonshire cream.Where: Fairmont Chateau WhistlerWhen: Saturday from 3 to 5pmCost: $45Threads: Sunday best + party hats, fascinators Expert Comment: Murphy says this is a great alternative to the traditional drink scene while Smith calls it a high tea event.
"There's prizes for the most creative head ware," she advises.
There are many to choose from and they all offer a special experience where food and wine come together in a way that can only happen when great chefs work with discerning sommeliers. Most are very social with the chefs and sommeliers explaining through stories and anecdotes the pairings they have presented.Where: a number of fine restaurantsWhen: throughout the festivalCost: variesThreads: Whistler snappy
Expert comment: Murphy calls these great value events that deliver year after year and this year there are more of them than ever.
"We're seeing this continuity of aspects of the festival that deliver year over year," Murphy says of these very popular dinners.
Smith says the dinners are the ultimate experience during Cornucopia.
CORNUCOPIA NIGHT MARKET
The first annual night market will bring an Asian-inspired noodle market from the streets of Shanghai and Shinjuku to Whistler. Sample different drinks with pan-Asian cuisine.Where: Whistler Conference CentreWhen: Sunday from 7 to 10pmCost: $35Threads: Whistler casual
Expert comment: This is a concept organizers have wanted to do for some time and this is the year, says Murphy.
"For only $35 it gets you into the room with a plate, fork and glass," Smith. She adds that next year the night market will feature another region from somewhere around the world.
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