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Tourism Jasper to celebrate ‘Lighter Side of Winter’ during Jasper in January

Jason Stockfish | [email protected] Everyone’s favourite local winter festival, Jasper in January, is set to return in the new year with more entertainment and fun-filled activities than ever before. Spanning three weekends from Jan. 13 to Jan.
Tourism Jasper looking festive in celebration of the “Lighter Side of Winter. | J. Stockfish photo

Jason Stockfish | [email protected]

Everyone’s favourite local winter festival, Jasper in January, is set to return in the new year with more entertainment and fun-filled activities than ever before.

Spanning three weekends from Jan. 13 to Jan. 29, the festival will continue with its many signature events that residents and visitors have come to love. That means people can expect ‘Whiskey, Wine & Hops’ at Forest Park Hotel, ‘Vinophilia’ at Evil Dave’s, and the pond hockey tournament on Mildred Lake at Jasper Park Lodge. Of course, the closing weekend street party on Patricia Street will conclude with a bang as fireworks light up the night sky.

This time around, Tourism Jasper wants to make it bigger than ever. It is stepping up its efforts to create a community-wide festival that encourages a “groundswell” of participation and buy-in from businesses and residents. Both are being encouraged to take part in what they’re calling, “The Lighter Side of Winter.”

“All we’re trying to do this year is take it to the next level in terms of finding ways to get the community and the businesses to see themselves in the festival and get them more engaged in terms of what we’re calling animation projects,” explained Tyler Riopel, director of Destination Development at Tourism Jasper.

As part of its efforts to celebrate the “lighter” side, Tourism Jasper has created a multifaceted campaign to capture people’s attentions and imaginations, starting with the festive lights that it has installed at several scenic locations around town. There will be two competitions for businesses to take part in. Tourism Jasper will award ‘Jasper’s Best Poutine’ to the restaurant that comes up with the recipe that wows diners more than its competitors. It will also give awards to businesses and their staff that participate in a ‘Window Decorating Challenge.’

It is also encouraging businesses to allow toques in the workplace as an unofficial uniform that shows Jasperites don’t take themselves too seriously.

Riopel noted that there will be zones for family-friendly activities, street vendors, and wandering performers entertaining festival-goers. The ‘Pyramid Winter Fête’ will include skating with Jasper the Bear and a hot chocolate station, plus a new group in town, Cirque Aurora, will be performing acrobatics to amazed onlookers.

This year’s Jasper in January will also see the return of ‘Mountain Malanka’, a Ukrainian New Year’s celebration featuring an Edmonton group and some local Ukrainians in a rich display of culture at the Multipurpose Hall.

“It’s really a big priority for us that everyone sees themselves as part of the visitor economy and that the programs that we offer benefit residents and visitors equally,” said James Jackson, the president and CEO of Tourism Jasper.

“We really want people to see themselves as beneficiaries and participants in the festival.”

Just a few of the events that will be held throughout the festival are: ‘Wine O’Clock’ at 5:30 p.m. with Jasper Food Tours; ‘Winter Wonderland Photo Tours’ with Jasper Photo Tours; ‘Ladies’ Ski Club’ with Marie Flipo-Bergeron at Marmot Basin; the ‘Festival of Galaxies’ courtesy of Jasper Planetarium; and ‘Ice Climbing 101’ with Rockaboo.

There will be much more to come, including the ‘After Dark Music Series’ featuring live music by local talents and visiting artists at various locations around town, and a new performance by Jasper Theatre Productions will hit the stage during the festival as well.

Jackson explained that as the town’s economy and its people come out of COVID, Tourism Jasper has made it a priority to align and unify the destination as one Jasper, rather than multiple groups, such as Tourism Jasper, the municipality, Parks Canada, the private sector, and residents putting all of their efforts into separate approaches.

“We want to break down some of those barriers and really unify the destination,” he explained.

A seventeen-day-long event like Jasper in January is a big deal for Jasper’s tourism-based economy. In the past, the town has seen a significant boost in visitor numbers during this time.

“The festival has been very effective at driving visitation,” said Jackson.

He noted that people really rally around the festival, with usually three to five thousand people attending the street party on the closing weekend.

“The key to that whole thing is, if we can get more people to find ways for their business to more meaningfully align with this festival, then it just creates that entire experience – not just for visitors, but for residents too, because then the whole town has some vibrancy,” said Riopel.

“(Tourism Jasper) can focus on the big stuff, like a street party or supporting a pond hockey tournament. The key is to find ways for businesses to see themselves as part of the bigger picture and get involved… and then we can work as an amplifier to make sure people know what activities and events are taking place.”

Riopel said they are looking to assist any local business operators wanting to create a forward-facing promotion to drive sales and take advantage of having a captive audience in town.

“It’s a priority for (Tourism Jasper) to bring Jasper’s brand to life, and that means programming and animating festivals throughout the year, but specifically in the key-need periods between November and April, and Jasper in January is core to that,” said Jackson.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing the ‘Lighter Side of Winter’ to everyone. It should be a lot of fun.”

For more details and information about this year’s Jasper in January, visit Jasper in January 2023.

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