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Best Whistler Nightlife

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Once upon a time Whistler residents and visitors congregated early evenings in legendary pubs where the drinks were cheap, the ambiance laid-back and the culture populist—the Boot Pub, most famously. Those days are gone, along with the budget lodgings and greasy spoons that accompanied them. Things are much higher-octane today: Whistler nightclubs boast “VIP” tables, a concept that would have earned scorn at the Boot. Two key factors flavor the nightlife scene in Whistler. First of all, things start heating up at slopeside spots such as Dubh Linn Gate at 4PM or so, the end of day for skiing. After that, the nightclubs start pumping around 9:30PM and wind down after 1AM, sometimes closer to dawn. Secondly, there are no truly big live performance venues that bring in big-name acts—except during the resort’s major festivals, chiefly the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival in April, and Crankworx Mountain Bike Festival in August, when outdoor stages spring up with free live acts. P.S.: Dress code for clubs? In Whistler? Are you kidding?
Dubh Linn Gate, The Garibaldi Lift Co., The Longhorn Saloon

Dubh Linn Gate, The Garibaldi Lift Co., The Longhorn Saloon

Neighborhood: Whistler Village

Three of Whistler’s best-known and most conspicuous apres-ski spots face each other around Skiers Plaza. The Irish pub in the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside serves up pints and stew, with live Celtic music every night; Longhorn’s patio is famed as a sun-soaking spot as it faces south, toward the lower slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb; GLC has live music on weekends and DJs weekdays.

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Dubh Linn Gate, The Garibaldi Lift Co., The Longhorn Saloon  
FireRock Lounge

FireRock Lounge

Neighborhood: Whistler Village
If gaggles of apres-ski goombies from Australia boasting about their cornice-chopping adventures do not appeal to you, this quiet, adult retreat in the Westin Whistler is the place. The ambiance is set by the two features in its name—a warming fire set in a large rock fireplace. It’s still close to the Whistler lift base, about a 5-minute walk. The lounge music is cosmopolitan, but quiet enough for conversation.

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FireRock Lounge  
Tommy Africa's Bar

Tommy Africa's Bar

Neighborhood: Whistler Village
Go-go dancers, light balls, ’80s retro nights—TA’s been going at it since 1988; it’s one of the prime spots for club-hoppers in town. Despite the retro late ’70s atmosphere (when did you last see live go-go dancers?) TA draws a fairly young crowd of time-trippers. Innumerable mirrors magnify the sensory buzz, and some customers kvetch about too-numerous niggling costs, such as $3 for the coat-check.

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Maxx Fish Lounge and Bar

Maxx Fish Lounge and Bar

Neighborhood: Whistler Village
Whistler capital for the DJ scene, the Fish is widely considered to have the best hip-hop, house and funk nights in town, and thus draws the youngest (legal) bar crowd. It’s famous for legendary DJ Mat the Alien, who mashes hip-hop and electro-metal. The scene includes bar-crazy abandon (real adults really still get up on the bar and gyrate?), and customers often grouse about weak drinks. Well, Canada is a beer nation anyhow.

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Garfinkel's Night Club

Garfinkel's Night Club

Neighborhood: Whistler Village
As the largest stage around, Garfinkel’s is the place in Whistler most likely to bring name acts to town, such as Paul Oakenfold; Loud, Fast & Out of Control; and Tall Paul. The nightclub offers five VIP tables, though anyone can book one—hey, this is Canada. But, make reservations, eh, it’s popular.

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Garfinkel's Night Club »
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