I love festivals. From working at T in the Park in Scotland to volunteering at Bear Creek Folk Festival in my own hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta, there's something about live music that ignites my soul.
I also love snowboarding. I've raced down hills in Norway, France, South Korea and the Rocky Mountains. The feeling of strapping into my board surges me with adrenalin, akin to the feeling of hearing a really good tune for the first time.
Still, I can’t say I’ve ever thought of combining the two into an epic winter festival. I’m glad someone did, though, because it brought us Snowbombing Canada.
For four days in early April, Sun Peaks, a massive ski hill just outside Kamloops, B.C., was ransacked with partying, music-loving snow bunnies in neon goggles and furry onesies. I survived a long weekend of wild activities and am excited to report back on my findings.
Is Snowbombing Canada for you?
There's no doubt about it—this was a rowdy weekend. Party-goers and rave music filled the resort. However, parents still walked around with young children, participants were polite and friendly, and a respectful cleanliness was maintained. If you want a quiet weekend away, you might prefer to visit Sun Peaks on a different weekend. But if you're looking for the ultimate apres-ski party in Canada, you've found it.
After touching down in dry, brown, hilly Kamloops, we hop on the shuttle and drive for an hour to Sun Peaks Resort.
With 4,270 acres of skiable terrain, Sun Peaks boasts the second largest ski area in Canada. There are 135 runs that cater to a range of abilities: 10 per cent novice (green circle), 58 per cent intermediate (blue square) and 32 per cent advanced and expert (black diamond and double-black diamond). The 2,000-some hours of sunshine the hill receives each year might have a little something to do with its namesake.
However, when we arrive, it’s snowing. (Which is a good thing—early April skiing in beautiful BC can often mean rain.) The thick icicles that hang over our window at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel are slowly melting. We dine at Mantles, the on-site restaurant, and tour the Village, which has been converted into an impeccably organized party.
There are several venues opening throughout the day (and night). We start at Coors Light Basecamp, dancing to Goldfish, two DJs who spin disks and simultaneously play the bass and saxophone. Ample medical staff and security watch the tipsy crowd attentively.
That evening, we venture into Morrissey’s, an Irish pub-turned-club for quiz night and a dance off. The Crystal Cave is located in the hotel’s ballroom right below our room (so yes, it is loud, until about 2:00 a.m.). But my favourite venue is the Underground: a DJ booth, chill-out lounge chairs and dance floor in a literal underground parking lot.
We fall asleep to heavy bass, dreaming about what the next few days will bring.
Piping-hot breakfast sandwiches from Tod Mountain Café are devoured quickly before we hit the hill. Tom and I take the Sunburst Express bubble lift up to the Crystal Chair. On the top of the mountain, we are shrouded in cloud. We ski and snowboard in low visibility, occasionally spotting festival participants sporting hot pink dinosaur onesies and helmets sprouting colourful wigs. But otherwise, the hill is empty. It's refreshing to have it more-or-less to ourselves.
The entertainment for the evening kicks off with the Sunset Carnival, where everyone is encouraged to dress as outrageously as possible. Tom and I give in, donning our giraffe suits. With the assortment of costumes around, we blend in better than those who wear regular clothes.
After dancing to Skiitour, we retire to the Grand to soak in one of three outdoor hot tubs on the terrace. Drinks are allowed in plastic cups, and the surrounding partiers are take full advantage.
It's going to be another wild night.
When we wake up, snow is falling in thick, wet flakes. We head up the Sundance lift to take advantage of the fresh pow.
The mountain is blanketed in heavy, wet snow. At the top, it’s soft and smooth. Near the bottom, it gets wet and sticky. My jacket and snow pants are quickly soaked through, along with my hair. I look like I've been swimming, not snowboarding.
But swimming is on the schedule, too: at the Slush Cup. A huge, freezing-cold pool awaits brave skiers and snowboarders in ridiculous outfits. They race down the hill, one at a time, launching into the icy waters. The sticky snow slows down their advances, so few riders make it far into the pool.
Afterwards, participants are invited to heat up in the hot tub right next to the snowy Slush Cup.
That evening, the Forest Stage opens. A short but muddy walk from the main village, we trek over to watch Daniel Caeser and Goldlink perform.
Our legs are sore from skiing and snowboarding, so after a quick appearance in the Crystal Cave and the Underground, we tuck into bed.
Yoga has been a growing trend in North America, with spin-offs like Beer Yoga and Goat Yoga drawing large crowds. It seems appropriate that Snowbombing offer its own version: Snowga.
Outside in the sun, yogis line up on yoga mats on top of slushie snow. They flow through sun salutations, stretching to the clear blue sky as skiers and snowboarders race past on their way to the lifts.
We follow the riders, branching off to take the T-bar up to the Morrisey Lift on the other side of the mountain. We wear our matching giraffe onesies and receive compliments from the lifties.
Around 2 p.m., we stop at the Sundance Terrace on top of the mountain to dance outside to DJs with other skiers and snowboarders still wearing helmets, boots and goggles. This is what I'd imagined when I was invited to Snowbombing: a group of snow-lovers dancing, drinking, laughing and having fun right on the hill.
On our final descent of the day, we ski straight into Coors Light Basecamp, where participants are playing giant beer pong and warming up by fire pits.
Despite being extremely tired, we join the party as Odesza takes the stage. Snowbombing is a wild weekend, for sure, but for young skiers and snowboarders, it’s a one-of-a-kind Canadian slope-style party not to be missed next year.
Learn more about Sun Peaks Resort
If you're looking for powder, try:
Gils Ski Area & Mt. Morrisey
If you're looking for tree runs, try:
If you're looking for steep drops, try:
Burfield and Crystal chairs
Places to Eat at Sun Peaks Resort:
Breakfast: Tod Mountain Cafe
Lunch: Mountain High Pizza
Dinner: Oya Japanese Restaurant
Learn More about Snowbombing Canada
Number of Participants in 2018: 4,000
Number of Venues: 9
Disclaimer: This article was provided as part of a press trip to Snowbombing Canada. All opinions are my own.