Presented in partnership with Travel Alberta
For the past eight years, Jasper has been growing a unique festival, and it’s one that celebrates every colour of the rainbow.
Jasper Pride Festival runs from March 9th to 12th, and if you’re feeling like your winter could use a dash of colour, then this is the event for you.
I’ve been to the festival a few different times and one of the reasons that it’s so special is the time of year. Most Pride festivals take place during the summer months, but Jasper has always liked to do things a little differently, so since its inception, Jasper Pride has been fabulously celebrated in the the month of March, which means the festival features winter-friendly events like skiing and ice climbing, while including Pride traditions like a Gala and burlesque shows.
Jasper Pride is more than just a festival, for many, it’s a chance to be themselves. As a gay person myself, it’s sorta hard to describe how peaceful it is to go to a small town and feel like I can be completely at ease. Now, I’ve been to Jasper many times when it wasn’t Pride, and it’s always been great and I’ve always felt safe. But maybe during those visits, I had been a little more cautious, or maybe I’m a little more aware of my surroundings. But events like Jasper Pride allow LGTBQ people and their allies the chance to celebrate culture, music, adventure and really let their worries melt away. That’s why the festival has grown has rapidly as it has, and now welcomes tourists from all over the world. It’s a unique experience and one that I don’t think you’ll soon forget.
What I love about the festival is the variety of activities, from parties, movie screenings to mountain adventures, and a lot of food and free festivities in between, there really is something for everyone. Head to Jasper Pride’s event listing to start planning your itinerary, but here are some of my personal highlights!
One of Jasper’s must-see winter adventures is an ice walk through the frozen bottom Maligne Canyon. On the guided tour, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with stunning frozen waterfalls, ice caves and ice formations. It’s like Frozen, but with way more gay people. The guides will provide you with grips so you don’t slip and fall, but be sure to dress warm and make sure your camera is fully charged, because you’ll be taking a lot of photos. And if you want to climb one of those frozen waterfalls, well you can sign up for that too. And if seeing an ice cave isn’t cool enough for you, the tour finishes with a glass of prosecco to toast your completing the tour. Now that’s my kind of hike.
Friday, March 10th
Jasper Brewing Company
One of my favourite things about Jasper Pride is to see how all the businesses get behind the festival. The stores use their own products to create their own little Pride celebration. So as you walk down the street, you really get a sense that the whole town is behind the Pride festivities.
For the last couple of years, Jasper Brewing Company has created its own Pride Beer and it’s delicious. Talk to the staff and they’ll take you on a tour of how the beer was brewed and the best past? Proceeds from all Pride Beer sales go directly to the Jasper Pride Festival Society. Does it get better than drinking for charity? I’m not sure it does. Be sure to check out all the businesses that are supporting the festival too, there’s always great conversations to be had about how important that Pride is too them as well.
Saturday, March 11th
For me, one of the most fun days at Jasper Pride is the Pride on the Hill. After all, you can’t go to Jasper without going on at least a few runs at Marmot Basin. But this isn’t your typical day skiing. During Jasper Pride, the slopes comes alive with colourful costumes, a pride-coloured Fun Run, a DJ and BBQ at Mid-Chalet. The day is full of activities, but be sure to bring your Pride flags and don’t miss the Pride Ski Run. That’s when everyone heads down the hill together and it’s really quite an experience to be surrounded by the beautiful rocky moutains, while celebrating LGTBQ equality with bright flags and new friends. The Jasper Pride Festival has also arranged special ski-lift rates, so be sure to contact Marmot Basin to get yourself a deal (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Photo via Jasper Pride Festival/Brian Van Tighem
Saturday, March 11th
$30 (advance)/$40 (at the door)
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
This is the signature gala event at Jasper Pride and it’s not to be missed!
This is an event where you can truly just have a really fun time. There’s food, drinks music, dancing, a performance by the Rocky Mountain Gurrrls and so much more. What I love about this event is that it really feels inclusive. You can get dressed up to the nines, or you can dress a little bit more casually. You can really just come however you want, and you will be welcomed! But if you’re a costume kinda person, you better get ready to up your game, because the costumes at the Gala, are truly remarkable.
You can cab or shuttle up to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, or you can stay right at the newly renovated hotel. It’s one of Canada’s most famous hotels and with good reason. It’s surrounded by lakes and mountains and offers you a chance to feel like you can get away from it all, but still be right in the middle of the party. The lodge is offering a special 25% off discount for Pride attendees, so now’s the time to book!
Sunday, March 12th
Did you know that Jasper National Park is the world’s largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve? That makes a guided night hike a perfect opportunity to see all the stars in the sky. Literally. This year’s festival lines up with the full moon, so you’ll be sure to experience a feast for you eyes. Unless it’s cloudy, in which case you’ll still get to enjoy an evening with a guide, who’ll teach you all about the stars, nocturnal animals and “things that go bump in the night.” If you’re good with taking night photos, this is the event for you!