Whistler Presents concert series deemed a success 

Free concerts at Whistler Olympic Plaza draw crowds, boost business

The good vibrations from Whistler's free concert series are reaching right into the cash registers of surrounding businesses.

"It certainly has helped bring a lot of people down to this neck of the village that normally wouldn't have come," said Escape Route's Larry Falcon who believes the series has been fantastic for the town.

Sandra Perrone from Blenz Coffee agreed. "It's been very busy on concert nights," she said. A steady stream of people pour in after the concerts to warm up with coffee, she said, adding that extended hours on concert nights helped them deal with the influx.

It is wonderful to have a gathering spot for families to frolic in, said Natalia Kawatski from The Oracle at Whistler, but she pointed out one downside to the close proximity to the stage. "The volume of the music can be a bit troublesome," she said. "It can be hard to hear customers standing a few feet away when the concert is on."

Some residents in surrounding neighbourhoods have also voiced concerns about the noise levels, particularly when the sound checks take place.

According to Breton Murphy, senior manager of communications for Tourism Whistler, there's no doubt that the Whistler Presents concert series is adding to the visitor experience.

"If we just look at this summer to date, we've been having a very strong summer and that's in spite of some really challenging weather in the spring and early summer," he said.

"Right now we're pacing to be a few percentage points ahead of last summer but that would still put us in the top three summers ever. And definitely a full calendar of events has a positive impact on that."

Murphy said at this stage it's difficult to zero in on how one specific event has impacted visitation because there are many factors that contribute to a visitor's decision to travel, however, information gathered through Tourism Whistler visitor surveys will reveal trends. "At the end of the summer season after we've had a chance to review the data, we'll have a better sense of the influence of events on visitation as well as overall visitor experience," he said.

Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed said Whistler Olympic Plaza is simply the beginning of the vision to take advantage of the legacy from the Olympics. "It's a pleasure to watch the transformation of the (Plaza)," he said.

"It's dynamite having this right here!" belted out Jay Romany, lead vocalist for the Whistler-based band Brother Twang, as he gestured toward the open green space of the Whistler Olympic Plaza and the surrounding tapestry of mountains and shops in Whistler Village.

Brother Twang opened up for the Barenaked Ladies at the sixth free concert in the Whistler Presents concert series on Sunday (Aug.21), funded by the Resort Municipality of Whistler through the Province of British Columbia's Resort Municipality Initiative grant.

Thousands of fans erupted into wild applause when shortly thereafter the Barenaked Ladies stepped upon the stage and proceeded to rock the park, and spectators were overwhelmingly impressed with the show.

"It's the best thing to ever happen here," said spectator Santy Gascha of the series, who travelled from Vancouver specifically to attend the Barenaked Ladies concert and was seated comfortably in one of the colourful wooden deck chairs placed at the Plaza.

The official opening celebrations for WOP will be held on Saturday, Aug. 27. The evening will include entertainers such as the Juno Award-winning Sam Roberts Band and Canadian alt-country star Kathleen Edwards.



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