From November 7-10, I was invited to the 26th Christmas in November as a Gastropost blogger/tweeter. It was a wonderful experience! Check out a collection of my tweets here, Day 2 Recap + Recipes, Day 3 Recap + Recipes, and Day 4 recaps & recipes!
Brittney (@britl), Pam (@pamelinachang), and I hit the road for our Christmas in November / Jasper adventure on Friday. We made a pit stop in Edson and despite the fact that we’d be feasting at the Christmas in November Welcome Reception that evening, we had to make a point to try Edson’s Coconut Tree Restaurant – which incredibly serves not only Chinese but Vietnamese, Thai, and Western food (very fitting for a small-town Alberta restaurant).
I actually thought their Thai Tom Yum soup was really good and Pam also enjoyed her Chinese Hot and Sour soup but Brittney’s pho and wonton soup were not good. Still, a great spot to have in the little town of Edson!
Back on the road to Jasper, we saw elk and stopped to take artsy mountain shots.
When we arrived at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, it was like stepping into a holiday scene (the only thing missing was the snow!)
Staff were dressed as Santa’s elves, wearing Christmas hats, and handing out roasted chestnuts and hot apple cider. There were carolers and Christmas songs playing in the lobby. We were greeted by twinkly lights (160,000 to be exact!), Christmas trees, and a giant Gingerbread house. Everyone was so nice and it was a great first impression of the hotel!
After we registered (and got swag bags!) we were taken to our cabin (!!!) located just steps away from the lake/dock. Gastropost/Postmedia really went out of their way to make sure our rooms were on point. (Thank you!)
We quickly changed and headed to the VIP Reception where our hosts Micah Dew and Nik Manojlovich greeted presenters and VIP (wait, is that us?). Micah and Nik announced that this was the first year Christmas in November was bringing in local chefs/restaurants as presenters – which is a huge draw for a lot of people (it definitely was for me!) There were a lot of first-time presenters but some who were seasoned veterans (a few have been coming to Christmas in November for 20+ years)!
“From the moment I was welcomed by the staff, I was in awe over the spectacle of what is the Jasper Fairmont Lodge and the area it’s situated in, where we are, how special it is to be here,” Micah said, talking of his own experience coming to Christmas in November as a mixologist presenter.
“Time and time again, there’s something special about this event that encourages someone to come back.”
At the VIP Reception there were festive holiday drinks (scroll down for the recipes!) and I got my fancy schmancy custom Gastropost Christmas in November name tag and then we were off to the Welcome Reception!
At the Welcome Reception, there were six different food stations you could visit for different dishes. PRO TIP: Don’t be like me and get the all-you-can-eat buffet mentality, grabbing too much food at your first food station that will then go to waste (sorry).
We made a point to visit each food station, which included a meat and cheese station, seafood station, dessert station, make-your-own poutine station, taco station, and more.
Other important Welcome Reception tips:
- Scope out the food stations before you dive in.
- Pace yourself. Grab a bit at each and go back for seconds of your favourites.
- There’s wine inside but don’t forget about the fun holiday cocktails in the lobby!
- Don’t be afraid to say hi or approach the presenters! Our friend Vickie is a big fan of Bob Blumer and just said ‘Hi Bob!’ as he walked by. He happily stopped to chat and take a photo.
There’s a short formal presentation where all of the chef/presenters are introduced. There’s so many of them – and they all have such impressive resumes … cookbooks … restaurants … TV shows! Lots of expertise to be shared.
Sandra with the Edmonton Journal/Postmedia made an announcement about Gastropost, before the stage was taken over by really talented musicians. We chatted a bit with the Willows Trio – three talented ladies originally from Edmonton, now residing in Toronto, but were excited to be back in Alberta for Christmas in November.
There were a few big screens projecting Christmas in November tweets and Instagram photos. Guests were encouraged to share #JasperCIN experiences on social media! The social media nerd in me asked the Fairmont’s marketing team what program they used to display the social mentions and they told me they use Postano. Must bring that information back for NAIT events. ;)
Have some fun with the photobooth in lobby, be in awe of the Fairmont’s massive Christmas tree, and pose with the gingerbread house which is made of 6,000 bricks of gingerbread, 160 kg of icing, 80 kg of assorted candies, and 10 litres of melted chocolate. Walking through the gingerbread house smells so good!
As the night wound down we went out onto the deck and claimed a seat on the lounge chairs by the bonfire. It was a chilly night so we went to our rooms to get sweaters and blankets, then chatted a bit more. It was pretty magical, you could say. ;) You should also remember to bring your swimsuit and take a dive in their heated outdoor pool! Whenever we were outside at night we could hear people splashing around in the pool below. All in all it was a long (you can tell from this recap lol) but great first day/kick-off! I was really excited to jump into the jam-packed weekend, and create some of my own unforgettable memories. Now check out (and try) the recipes for festive cocktails below, and be sure to come back to this space for my Day 2, 3, and 4 recaps + recipes!
Linda Follow @lindork