There are many things to enjoy during this special time of year: an abundance of food, friends, family and, maybe if you’re lucky, a little time off work.
But another stalwart of the season I look forward to on an annual basis are the year-end lists that pop up around this time. I figured, hey, why can't I have one?
So here’s my list of the best and brightest from Whistler and Pemberton’s cultural sectors in 2013.
Best Cultural Event: The Whistler Film FestivalM
With the number of festivals that run in the resort every year this is a tough category, but there’s no denying the burgeoning reputation of the Whistler Film Festival and its impact on the community’s cultural sector in its 13th year.
With 84 screenings — more than any other year — and appearances by Oscar winners Richard Dreyfuss and Melissa Leo, plus Canadian heartthrob Jason Priestley (who should be applauded for his willingness to snap photos with what seemed like every woman in Whistler over the age of 30), and a slew of filmmaker-friendly industry events, WFF rivals some of the world’s top cinematic festivals while still maintaining its small-town charm.
And things will only get better for the fest in its 14th year with long-awaited renovations to its flagship screening house, the Rainbow Theatre, set to start in the New Year.
Best Concert of the Year: Nas
It’s not very often a town of 10,000 can host one of hip-hop’s most iconic figures, but when you’ve got one of the world’s largest ski and snowboard festivals on the calendar, the talent usually follows.
One of the most beloved voices in rap music since he debuted the timeless 1994 album, Illmatic, Brooklyn’s own Nas graced the Skier’s Plaza stage to kick off the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in April.
Running through his extensive catalogue, thousands braved the snow and cold weather to hear Nas’ timeless flow. He was the highlight of one of the festival’s most eclectic line-ups yet.
Best Local Singer or Musical Group: Kalan Wi
Mount Currie had a lot of reasons to be proud of Lil’wat roots fusion band Kalan Wi in 2013.
Not only did they earn widespread recognition for their genre-bending album Celebrate, including two nominations and a win at the Native American Music Awards in New York, but they’ve worked hard to preserve the language and musical traditions of their nation, blending Lil’wat chants with reggae-inspired rhythms.
Best Local Visual Artist: Vanessa Stark
By now, 38-year-old visual artist Vanessa Stark’s boldly coloured mountain paintings are as ubiquitous in Whistler as ski boots and Aussies. At any point of the year, you’re likely to find her work hanging at a number of coffee shops and galleries, or gracing the decks of snowboards and skis.
The prolific Pembertonian enjoyed another successful year, with her works displayed at several exhibits at Millennium Place, her design chosen to grace Prior’s 2013 line of skis, as well as creating a limited-edition topsheet for Whistler Blackcomb.
She also took home top prize at this summer’s annual Paint-Off competition, earning the most votes for her landscape piece of a couple paddling across a lake under a vivid orange sky. She also had her work featured on Pemberton’s official village banners.
Oh, Stark also somehow finds time to raise her toddler and snowboard. She’s planning to launch a clothing line featuring screen prints of her art this summer, called Nes.
Best Local Author: Stella Leventoyannis Harvey
Stella Leventoyannis Harvey is as much a talented writer in her own right as she is a pillar of Whistler’s literary scene.
Beyond the long list of individual accomplishments she enjoyed in 2013 — her debut novel Nicolai’s Daughters brought her on a second Canada-wide book tour and was commissioned for a Greek translation, while her story Step 5 was a finalist for CBC’s Short Story Prize — she continued in her essential role as director of the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival.
With a star-studded lineup of acclaimed writers and media figures in its 12th year, the fest has blossomed into a must-attend event for West Coast’s literary scene under Harvey’s guidance.
Favourite Interview: BC/DC
This prestigious honour goes to Nelson’s favourite AC/DC tribute band, BC/DC, and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t even close.
Lead guitarist/cow suit enthusiast Angus Madcow had plenty of knee-slapping soundbites during our chat, but his advice on getting dirty deeds done dirt cheap was probably the highlight: “Our road manager, Ike, he currently has a sale going. Fifty-per-cent off general bodily harm, so if you’re looking for some dirty deeds, he actually does them dirt-cheap. With the economic climate these days, everyone’s fighting for the same dollars, so our man Ike will crack heads for less.”