In the context of skiing and snowboarding, spring is truly a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s sad to watch all of our precious snow melt; on the other, who can argue with warm temperatures, soft snow, and a little goggle tan? But in addition to favorable temps, spring also signals the start of another important season in skiing and riding: Party Season. From late March through April, skiers and riders don costumes, skim across massive puddles, and enjoy a frosty brew or four as a way to celebrate another successful year on the hill. While most resorts have a party to end their year, there are a few that have taken the shenanigans to the next level. Here are five end-of-year ski parties you need to experience to believe.
Bud Light Reggae Festival
Where: Sugarloaf, Maine
When: April 10–13
I’m not sure how reggae, skiing, and snowboarding became so intertwined, but frankly, I don’t hate it. If you’re looking for the best of all three this spring, Sugarloaf Resort in Maine is your best bet. For more than 25 years the resort has hosted one of the biggest spring parties on the East Coast, with soft snow and a reggae band lineup that makes most summer festival bills blush. Good vibes and good turns all around.
World Ski and Snowboard Festival
Where: Whistler, British Columbia
When: April 11–20
Whistler’s end-of-year bash highlights some of the best and brightest in skiing in one of the biggest party environments on the planet. Think big air and slopestyle competitions mixed with art shows and late-night concerts, with plenty of libations to keep the crowds loose. The WSSF is where the freeskiing and snowboarding crowd go to throw down one more time before they dig out their mountain bikes and surfboards. It is definitely worth the price of admission.
Highlands Closing Party
Where: Aspen, Colorado
When: April 12–13
Aspen has long been the party capital of Colorado, and its closing-weekend celebration is no exception. Chock full of costumes, live music, pond skimming, and outrageous party antics, closing weekend in Aspen has grown to mythical status. Generally the vacation crowd has long since packed it in, leaving a whole bunch of rambunctious locals on what can only be described as Party Mountain.
Where: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
When: Pretty much every weekend this spring
Why wait for a special date when you can get after it every weekend? That seems to be the policy at A-Basin’s Beach, a parking lot tailgate that pushes the limits every spring. Though there is very little organization on this thin strip of parking lot near the base-area lifts, The Beach still manages to put together a few organized parties, like Drinko-de-Mayo and the ever-popular Thrift Store Ski Day. Occasionally bands will show up and plug into generators, and rumor has it there have been several marriage proposals on the strip. Needless to say, you never quite know what you’re going to get in the parking lots of A-Basin.
Where: Thompson Pass, Alaska
When: March 28–April 6
This is a bit different from the rest of the parties on this list, but make no mistake: Tailgate Alaska is a party nonetheless. Meant for the backcountry ski and snowboard crowd, Tailgate Alaska is a 10-day festival held in the parking lot at the base of Alaska’s legendary Chugach Mountains. Part backcountry clinic, part tailgate party, Tailgate Alaska offers backcountry-safety classes and guided tours of iconic alpine zones, then caps off each evening with parties and games. Now in its seventh year, the festival draws a unique crowd of big-mountain enthusiasts who like their party on the wild side.
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