Every year, Jasper throws a three-week party in January. It’s the national park town’s premiere festival with both free and ticketed events themed around adventure, food, and arts.
And it’s awesome.
This year, I had the pleasure of doing a whirlwind weekend getaway to Jasper for the Appetites (food-themed, of course!) week of the 27th Annual Jasper in January.
I had so much fun – ate so much food – and experienced so much adventure that I can’t wait to return.
You can read a full recap of what I did at the 2016 Jasper in January here and check out my more condensed list of tips below to help you get the most out of your Jasper in January trip when you plan to go next year! Also enter to win lift passes for 2 to Marmot Basin!)
(Because you really should plan to go next year!)
Here are my 10 Tips to Get The Most Out of Jasper in January
1. Take advantage of the freebies
The beauty of Jasper in January is its mix of programming – free and ticketed. You can certainly have an incredible experience in this scenic mountain town without spending too much money. It doesn’t have to be an expensive trip.
Maximize activities by mapping out your days and checking out the Jasper in January website in advance to plan around as many free activities as possible – snoeshowing, sleigh rides, hiking, afternoon teas, fireworks, street parties, watching a hockey game on the frozen lake, skating, winter bocce, and much more. There’s no shortage of free (and family-friendly) Jasper in January events!
2. ‘Crawl’ around Jasper’s best eateries at Food-a-Palooza
Pick which weekend fits you the most (Adventure, Food, or Art), but if you’re like me, plan to attend the food weekend and spend a night out dining at a number of restaurants for Jasper in January’s ‘Food-a-Palooza’. More than a dozen restaurants in town serve up special food and drink pairings for just $15. It’s like your own little food crawl!
3. Rent a fat bike
We saw these all over Jasper! ‘Fat bikes’ (or ‘PHAT’ bikes if you want to be hip, lol) seem to be all the rage in town now. You can rent them at pretty much any of the outdoor sport rental companies for around $20 a day (we’re told) and just plow through all the snow/trails with such ease. Plus they just look really cool.
4. Attend Wine in Winter
At $30 for unlimited wine samples – you could work the room just once and get more than your money’s worth back – don’t hesitate to double fist it and don’t be embarrassed to return to your favourite booths multiple times! It’s a wonderful way to kick off the wine-filled weekend, and don’t forget to take note of your favourite wines to take home too.
5. Do a tour and tasting at Canada’s first National Park brewery
The craft beer industry in Alberta has never been bigger (in fact, my friend is doing a blog all about Alberta beer) so a stop in Jasper isn’t complete without a stop at the Jasper Brewing Company’s BrewPub & Eatery. Sample the six, signature craft beers brewed right on site, see if you can get in on a brew pub tour (it’s really interesting!) and also order their nachos. Massive and delicious, make sure your bites with jalapeños on top for an extra kick.
6. Hopscotch and Wine it up
Our schedule couldn’t accommodate the renowned Hopscotch and Wine it up event but throughout the weekend, other Jasper in January attendees or just people living in town would ask us if we were going to this festival where your ticket in gives you access to unlimited fine wines, spirits, and local beers with delicious tapas.
It’s apparently the place to be on a Saturday night in Jasper in January and sold out quickly so be sure to get your ticket quick!
7. Pyramid Lake sleigh rides or dog sled, and Maligne Canyon Ice Walk
Okay so trying to narrow things down to just 10 is really hard so I’m kind of combining a bit here. Along with the free activities at Marmot Meadows, be sure to drive or shuttle down to Pyramid Lake where – depending on the weekend, there will be sleigh rides, dog sledding, skating, hockey games, and more. Most of these activities are free too so you get all the Canadian, outdoor winter fun without breaking the bank! (Mike and I went dogsledding a few years ago – check out my recap of that experience here!)
8. Hit the slopes at Marmot Basin
Hit the slopes and chalets at Marmot Basin! If you’re a beginner or interested in learning, I cannot recommend the Snow School private instructor service enough – even just a half day will have you feeling so confident and having so much fun! Even without, there is something so amazing about seeing the Canadian Rockies from atop a mountain.
9. Go on a photo walk ~ talk to people
Again, combining tips to squeeze into this “10” list.
I love taking photos, so a huge part of any vacation for me is just heading to picturesque spots and snapping away. Jasper’s kind of got a picturesque spot everywhere you look, really. Go on a photo walk with your friends and family. Or make your walk to and from your activities a photo walk. Really stop to appreciate your surroundings in this beautiful little town, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with another tourist or a local.
So many people we chatted with said they came from big cities and again and again told us the same thing – they weren’t sure how they’d adjust to life in this small, mountain town, but they quickly fell in love with the views, the outdoor activities, the people, the lifestyle. It’s a lovely little place and it’s really fun hearing how people ended up here, and what their favourite parts of Jasper are.
10. Visit the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
What’s a visit to Jasper without a stop at the beautiful Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge? Hit the lobby, dine at Orso, their new Italian restaurant (the homemade pasta is incredible!) and hike around Lac Beauvert. The lobby chips are also amazing.
11. Visit Wicked Cup (and buy some art)
Okay, so I’m going over the “10” tips a lot but there’s just too much to recommend… Wicked Cup is one of my favourite spots to hang out in Jasper. Just the coolest vibe, a delicious matcha green tea latte (check out all the cool foam art designs for any of the lattes you order!) and loads of art from Asia on display that you can purchase (for really affordable prices). Sip, savour, and check out their art and gift shop.
And here’s ANOTHER tip…
Take an extra day or two and extend your Jasper in January experience!
A whirlwind weekend just isn’t enough time to enjoy everything.
Plus depending on how much you jam-pack into those couple of days, an extra day or two to just stroll town and soak up that brisk mountain air and scenic views may be the perfect way to wrap up your Jasper in January experience.
It’s amazing what beauty and adventure awaits just a few hours away from Edmonton.
Learn more about Jasper in January here, and check out all the things you can do year-round in Jasper here.
Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. Tourism Jasper invited me to experience the Appetites Week of Jasper in January. This has no impact on opinions stated in this post.