[R493R, Whistler]'s annual TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival is set to hit new heights this spring as a prelude to the Olympic Games. The 10-day and 10-night party, scheduled for Apr. 17-26, may be arguably North America's biggest annual celebration of winter sports, music, arts, and mountain culture.

Sports competitions range from the Orage Masters that mixes a team slopestyle event with a masquerade party to the World Skiing Invitational Big Air event and World Skiing Invitationals Superpipe. The Grenade Games, skate jams, and an ultimate mascot showdown add to the spectator appeal. Even a dogfest brings out the canine-lovers.

Each afternoon bounces with free music with the Zune Concert Series. Evenings fill with outdoor competitions, filmmaker screenings, fashion shows, art and photography exhibits, and all-night parties.

Complete schedules for the festival week, as well as admission rates, free events, and parties are available online. Volunteer applications are also available there.

Whistler is offering several ski and stay packages during the festival. A four-night lodging and three-day lift ticket package costs $74 CAD or $66 USD per person per night. A two-night lodging and two-day lift ticket package runs $82 CAD or $69 USD per person per night. Call 888-767-4732 for details on ski and stay packages for the festival.