Some come for the sports, others for the photography, but everyone attending the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival arrives primed for the music.
This year's event will draw the likes of Tokyo Police Club, Spirit of the West, Broken Social Scene, and Gogol Bordello, with a few final additions to be announced at the end of this week. To round things out, organizers have brought on a slew of local DJs to keep the momentum going throughout the event.
"We try to get something new and different every year, a lot of people like to see acts come back again but we found that it's really nice to mix it up and invite new and upcoming bands," says Jess Smith, communications manager for the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival (TWSSF). "It's generally not your super high end, high paying groups. We really go for groups that cover a wide variety of genres, that appeal to everybody that's going to be there because this festival really does have mass appeal and it covers all bases from sports, music, arts so you really have to get bands that are going to appeal to a wide variety of audience."
Though some of the bands fall into the hip and now category, organizers hope the addition of Spirit of the West will bring a little Canadiana nostalgia to the party.
"I think remembering that it's not just the artists of today who have made our musical environment, it's musicians of the past who have really started off for the guys who are successful today as well so it's nice to have them back in a nostalgic throwback to the eighties, it's always a good time," continues Smith.
Vincent Ditrich has been with Spirit of the West since the band's inception almost 30 years ago. Since then they've only had one band member change and have produced 14 albums. Though the east coast of Canada is typically recognized for its happening Celtic music scene, Spirit of the West has held its own to be a relevant name in folk-pop today.
"I think our music hits on a note of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, so to speak," says Ditrich.
"So many people in Canada have Celtic roots and to take all of that West coast stuff and combine it with some of the Celtic stuff has been very effective for us and it's something that is not so much faddish as more of a legacy for this type of presentation.
"We never really have taken this for granted. Even in our senior years we still get out there and kick our own asses as hard as we can to make the show as fun as it can be and to show as much respect for the music and the audience as we possibly can. I think that's one of the things that has kept us together, we've never gotten bored of it, we've never thought that this is boring or passé, we really, really work for it."
New to the TWSSF this year is the ascension of the skiing and snowboarding events to platinum level on the AFP World Tour, which means more points and more incentive for athletes to compete. A new filmmaking event - Intersection - will offer audiences a new cinematic perspective with a sporty edge.
"It fills a niche market that wasn't there before, it's what the Filmmaker Showdown was initially made to be but that's progressed into its own amazing event and this one is geared more towards action sports filmmaking," Smith says. "It's a nice new initiative for the festival because we've already sold out of the Filmmaker Showdown and the Pro Photographer showdown so this opens up another event for people who didn't quite get tickets for those ones."
Tickets for the Pro Photographer Showdown and the Filmmaker Showdown sold out in record time - a little over a week - an enormous feat in a town known for its last minute purchasing habits.
The hype for the 10-day event is the strongest of any event held in Whistler, putting it on the map as a flagship festival during what would normally be the start of a slow season.
"It's a really important event for us, basically because it's during a shoulder season so it's a really good room night driver when we wouldn't necessarily see that traditional ski vacation," says Louise Walker, Tourism Whistler's manager of research. "It's a really important event, it's one of our signature events."
A Tourism Whistler pace of bookings report that compares nights booked for this year's event to last year's festival shows more than a fifty per cent jump.
Though the final data won't be available until after the festival and could vary from the current prediction, Walker believes a strong line-up, good marketing and an improving economy are indicating a stronger showing this time around.
For tickets and a full list of activities, exhibits, shows and events go to www.wssf.com.
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