The party started 27 years ago at Marmot Basin’s 25th-anniversary celebration, and it’s been going strong ever since: Marmot wanted to celebrate, and the community joined in. Perhaps January doesn’t seem like the ideal time for merry-making—the freezing temperatures, the dark—but, in fact, it was in the cold heart of winter where the passion for this much-loved festival ignited.
“Twenty-seven years ago it was a massive success,” says Brian Rode, vice-president of marketing and sales for Marmot Basin. “Marmot rallied together with the community to offer guests great hotel rates and extracurricular activities around Jasper. People came out in droves.”
And so the following year, Jasper in January was born. This winter festival reminds people that it’s fun to come out of hibernation. Last year over
23 000 skiers visited Marmot Basin during the festival, and it’s become a way for locals and travellers to connect in the great outdoors.
Skiing and snowboarding at Marmot are a major draw (lift tickets are discounted 25 percent), and when the chair lifts grind to a halt and the sun drops behind the peaks, the nighttime festivities kick into full gear.
If you’re not into riding, there’s still lots to do: go for a nature walk, dogsledding, cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking or relax at one of Jasper’s cozy coffee shops or bakeries. We’ve compiled a roundup of some of the many reasons to check it out.
On the mountain
Marmot Basin is hosting a number of events on top of the mountain to celebrate Jasper in January. Guests can try the latest ski and snowboard technologies for free during Demo Day on January 30, a family scavenger hunt on January 30, and the Rail Jam on January 31 where kids can show off in the mini rail park.
Jennifer Heil wants you to go
Former Olympian freestyle mogul skier Jennifer Heil wants people to experience this winter festival and the frozen beauty of Jasper in January. She’s given her official endorsement to the event. In a press release she says, “I always anticipated the month of January as a kid. It meant the annual family road trip to ski the slopes of Marmot Basin by day, followed by evenings of food, music and entertainment. I will always return to the mountain I grew up on.”
The tradition continues with three themed weekends
This year’s festival has three themed weekends—adventure, appetites and art.
“There’s something for everyone,” says Nancy Gordy, media and public relations specialist for Tourism Jasper.
Week one took care of the adventure portion, but now you can lick your lips and get ready for week two. Join the culinary crawl to experience Jasper’s local flavours. “People may not associate Jasper with food, but we have a lot to offer,” Gordy explains. Play bartender and learn to mix stellar drinks during Mixology 101 at Evil Dave’s Grill, or enter the chili cook-off for a local experience. On January 22, join Mountain Park Lodge’s chef for Wine in Winter at Chateau Jasper where wine from around the globe will be showcased. Yes, you get to sample, along with tasting specialty cheeses and appetizers. And finally, there’s art. Arts on Ice kicks off on January 29 at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge with Just for Laughs comedian Jeremy Hotz.
“It’s a good way to warm up with some laughter,” Gordy says.
Those who want to get their hands-on fix can carve a soapstone bear with artist Allan Waidman or take an acrylics portrait class with artist-in-residence John Webster. Both events will be held at Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Relax with the Lole Wellness Weekend
Yogis will be flexing and opening at the Fairmont for the Lole Wellness Weekend on January 30 and 31. Participants get to experience three different styles of yoga, raw chocolate and mountain bliss.
Every weekend live music will fill the air at the Whistle Stop Pub and Athabasca Hotel. Just pull on your toque and go explore.
“I love being outside and seeing locals come together,” Gordy says. “People from all over come to Jasper and interact. You get to experience Jasper in a whole different way. It’s a small town and during Jasper in January, everyone gets outside to embrace winter.”
Until Sun, Jan 31