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Night Skiing Nirvanas

One of the best ways to kick off a ski vacation after a never-ending journey is to jump straight into ski gear and go night skiing under the floodlights with the extra magic of moonlight and starry serenity. All around North America, night skiing is gentrifying with freshly manicured corduroy, better lighting, longer hours, larger areas and fun après activities, attracting tourists and locals looking for post-work relaxation.

The latest and largest lit night skiing is at Bromont where the action continues until 2 am during eight Nuit Blanche Saturday events staged regularly throughout the season. Night skiing is also available daily with 102 trails, 32 glades, six snowparks, and nine lifts open until 10 pm. Averaging 1400 skiers at night, Nuit Blanche Saturdays are the most popular with DJs, bands, and coaching.

Kimberley is the best at this,” avows Powder Matt Mosteller from Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. “At 640metres we’ve got the longest vertical in Western Canada.” The Kootenays resort has weekly social night skiing events and plaza parties. Highlights include the regular Rec Runners, a fun and lively recreational racing league under the stars and the community favourite Night Rail Jam sessions, says Mosteller. Day tickets include the 5:30-8: 30 pm sessions and there are night skiing season passes available. There’s fun après ski in the Stemwinder afterwards or just down the hill at the Old Bauernhaus specializing in traditional Alpine comfort food.

“Just because the sun has gone down, it doesn’t mean your ski day has to end,” says Simon Moffatt, Director of Sales and Marketing at Mt Norquay. The Banff resort is cornering the market in Alberta with free night skiing for SkiBig3 pass holders and night skiing season passes at $75. Starting around mid-December, the runs off Cascade and the Terrain Park are open from 5-9pm Fridays and Saturdays until March 10. The resort closes down between 4 and 5 pm to groom the night trails and provides free shuttles back to Banff. “It’s pretty steady all the way through, but can be a little weather dependent if it’s very cold,” says Moffat. Both locals and visitors join in, especially families who also like to try the 8-lane Tube Park – with a new corkscrew lane – after dark. The Masters Ski Racing Series on Friday nights draws another audience of ex-racers and instructors working on their level 4 exams. “Night skiing is both a good revenue driver for Norquay as well as an added wow factor for guests,” Moffat explains. “It’s also a really nice addition for visitors with Ski Big 3 tri-area lift tickets because it’s unique and it’s included with their pass. The Lone Pine Bar and Restaurant also has a great atmosphere for après during night skiing.”

Testing the water, Castle Mountain tried its first night skiing event during the holiday season. “This winter is our first year dabbling in it,” said Jason Crawford, Sales & Marketing Manager. “We bring in temporary light plants to make it happen.” Castle’s second Night Skiing evening was planned for Alberta Family Day Feb 18.

Panorama’s Slopes Manager Bryan Kroker is a night skiing advocate. “My wife and I come up for night skiing all the time,” says Kroker. “Whenever I have time off I want to be a customer and an observer so I come as often as possible.” He is responsible for getting Show Off ready for regular Saturday night skiing as well as over the holidays. “I introduced the night skiing groom. When I arrived here I looked at the product for night time and said ‘guys we can do better than that’.” He enjoys the building excitement when skiers see the fleet of snowcats manicuring the run while they are waiting at the Mile One lift for night skiing to start. Open 4-8pm, it is free with a full-day lift ticket until March 10.

With the majority of runs night lit since the 80s, Grouse Mountain is a great place to night ski or ride until 10 pm daily. On clear nights, the city of Vancouver sparkles below as skiers do laps on favourite runs including The Cut, Centennial, Peak, Grouse Park, Blazes, and new this year Heaven’s Sake. “Since we are only 30 min from downtown Vancouver we are a popular spot for night skiing and we can see larger numbers at night during the weekdays than during the day,” says Joffrey Koeman, Director of Sales & Marketing.

With 596 metres vertical drop, Big White runs Tuesday through Saturday evenings. At only $10 it’s the best deal you can find on a Friday night, says Big White’s Mason Buettner. Accessed via three lifts, over 5,000 people per hour can be whisked to the top from 3:30-8pm. “Friday nights are always the busiest with upwards of 1,000 people on the mountain,” Buettner adds. “We see all age groups join us throughout the week, but Friday nights are usually university/college students. Many of the private businesses on the mountain join in the fun with $10 food specials and even $10 drop-in yoga classes.” Weeknights locals and holidaymakers make up the majority of participants.

Other Western Canadian resorts that offer night skiing include SilverStar, Winsport, and Cypress Mountain.

Many resorts in the East specialize in night skiing, too. The Night Pass at Blue Mountain, Ontario is a great after work/school workout and stress reliever, with unlimited night skiing from mid-December to mid-March (with a blackout period over Xmas/NYE week). Covering 30 freshly-groomed night trails, night tickets are valid from 3:30pm until 9. “Après in the Village is always popular, with firepits in the Village square, live music in the pubs and restaurants and events throughout the season,” says Public Relations Manager Tara Lovell, recommending the new Bullwheel Pub for its Smart Alec Ale brewed especially for Blue in partnership with Creemore Springs. “Monday nights are the best deal with the Coca-Cola Ski and Dine package, which includes a night lift ticket and base lodge dinner voucher for only $29 plus tax,” says Lovell.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Mount Saint Louis Moonstone launched night skiing in 2014 after a $2 million investment in lighting. Running Wednesday to Sunday, nine lifts serve 31 runs, appealing mainly to local families. At Brimacombe, the Oshawa Ski Club has night skiing from 4-9:30 pm with 11 runs and three terrain park areas accessible from three chairlifts and a magic carpet. Also open seven nights a week for night skiing is Horseshoe Resort, near Barrie. The Night Pass at Mont Sainte Anne also covers Stoneham, and Mont Saint-Sauveur is open until 10 pm for night skiing.

Several resorts also run torchlight descents including Sun Peaks, which has a regular fondue and torchlight ski event, and Lake Louise, which runs a torchlight dinner to celebrate Christmas, New Year, Ice Magic Festival, and Valentine’s Day.

Manufacturers are also getting into the dark arts. For example, LED light kits which attach to snowboards. The kits have 64 multi-coloured lights which illuminate in a variety of patterns. Zeal Portal goggles, with rimless frames for unobstructed peripheral vision, come with spare night skiing lenses (the Optimum Ski Blue Mirror lens) which slide in and attach with magnets. There’s also been a trend recently in night skiing footage on YouTube, including NOCTA Project #1 from Yucca Films based in Chamonix.