Nestled among the mountainous landscape of British Columbia, Whistler has long been a destination for vacationers seeking epic scenery and outdoor adventures. However, there’s far more to Whistler than its surroundings. The town is also one of the best arts and culture hubs in all of Western Canada and beyond. From educational indigenous culture centers to cutting edge contemporary art galleries, Whistler’s wide spread of artistic options has something for everyone’s taste. Today we’re going to list some of the best destinations for arts and culture in Whistler, British Columbia.
A relatively new addition to the Whistler arts and culture scene, the Audain Art Museum has been celebrating British Columbian art since 2016. The building itself is a striking architectural feat thanks to its design by renowned firm Paktau Architects. The collections within are no less impressive. This museum seeks to explore the diverse and rich artistic history of British Columbia. Among the most impressive parts of the collection is a display of nineteenth century Northwest Coast masks. The permanent collection is beautiful, but the rotating temporary exhibitions make this museum a worthy destination for repeat visits.
A short drive from Whistler Village will bring you to Vallea Lumina, another of Whistler’s newest attractions. This colorful and trippy wonderland of lights nestled within a dense forest is a marvel of the senses. The light show combines the natural beauty of Cougar Mountain with a series of light installations, creating an immersive walkthrough experience. Though just outside of Whistler, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a new world. You can drive yourself to the base of Cougar Mountain, but for a small fee, you can also arrange for transport.
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is not easily definable. The first of its kind anywhere in Canada, the centre is located on the traditionally shared territories of the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations. This institution offers both employment opportunities for tribe members and educational opportunities for visitors. The centre provides a multi-media experience, with museum exhibits, musical performances, family-friendly arts and crafts, and educational films. Exhibits are designed to teach visitors about the life and history of these two historic tribes. After spending a few hours exploring, visitors can stop at the Thunderbird café for indigenous-inspired cuisine.
The Whistler museum offers a variety of exhibits that give context to Whistler’s historic rise to prominence in Western Canada. Visitors can take a break from sports and relaxation to learn about skiing history, the city’s natural environment, the history of hippies and squatters, and more. Local guides also set off from the Whistler Museum to give tours of Whistler Village. The village is fun to explore on its own, but the historical tidbits provided by guides make for an enriching experience.
The Maury Young Arts Centre is at once an art museum, a theatre, a youth centre, and itself a remarkable work of art. The galleries display a wide variety of modern and traditional art, with rotating exhibits to keep visitors coming back. The Centre is also known for its annual Anonymous Art Show; a temporary gallery with a DIY aesthetic in which up-and-coming talent can conceal their identity before purchases are made by patrons. No matter when you visit, there’s always something interesting happening.
Tying together the arts and culture scene is Whistler Village, where you’ll find a myriad of shops, restaurants, and art galleries lining the picturesque village stroll. The entire community revolves around Whistler Village, and residents and visitors alike gather here daily all year round. It’s the perfect spot to unwind, wander, and eat delicious food after a long day of skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and taking in the rich arts and culture of British Columbia’s most beautiful destination.
A quick and easy list of the other best galleries to check out:
- The Plaza Galleries – 4314 Main Street, Whistler, BC
- Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery – 4090 Whistler Way, Whistler, BC
- The Crystal Lodge Gallery – 4154 Village Green, Whistler, BC
- Whistler Contemporary Gallery – 4591 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, BC
- Mark Richards Gallery – 4293 Mountain Square Unit 124, Whistler, BC
- Fathom Stone Art Gallery – 4090 Whistler Way, Whistler, BC