By Keili Bartlett
Winter is well underway, but the fun is just getting started! January weather in the Canadian Rockies creates the perfect conditions for winter festivals. Here’s a round-up of all the snow-packed fun at Jasper in January, Jan 12-29 and Banff’s SnowDays, Jan 13 – Feb 5.
Jasper in January
It’s January in Jasper and you won’t catch us migrating south for the winter. The town’s 28th annual festival is brings back old favourites and includes new additions. The three themes of the festival are Adventure, Appetites and Arts, and they certainly deliver on their promise!
Between dog sledding, taking a tour through a frozen Maligne Canyon, and jingling all the way in a horse-drawn sleigh, Jasper is not just going to whet your appetite for adventure, it will fulfill it. Frosty’s Fat Bike Race & Summit has chosen Jasper for their first ever Canadian event! Races for experts to beginners takes place Jan 12-14. You can ride or watch. Looking to become a better skier? Sign up for family fun with local greats like Olympian Jennifer Heil. She’ll show the whole family the tips and trick of the sport while you ski the slopes alongside her, then pick her brain over a buffet lunch. Make sure you also take full advantage of Parks Canada’s “Learn to” classes like snowshoeing, winter camping and wildlife photography. After all, it’s time to follow through on your “new year, new you” mantra.
Admire the Art and Eat your Heart out
With live music, artist receptions, and dark sky stories, you’ll enjoy learning about local culture while being immersed in it. Between excursions, dine and drink from Jasper’s finest culinary menus. Brewery tours and classes like Mixology 101 will come in handy when you want to recreate your trip at home, and you’re longing to return to the chill of the mountains.
No Fun like Snow Fun
Banff’s annual SnowDays brings the party to the park with fantastic frosty events on top of the region’s classic skiing, skating and snowshoeing.
You haven’t been to a street party like this! The Kick-off Street Party on January 13 has everything short of sugarplums dancing around your head. The elements mingle at the ice fire pit, with a nearby ice carving demonstration starting at 6:30pm, ice playground and skating. Grab a drink from the ice bar or the beer garden, or dig into some street treats from local food vendors. Live music starts at 6pm.
The Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise is 10 days of cool creations that will inspire awe in all. This year’s theme for competing ice carvers is ‘Canada – True North’. In such an iconic setting, it’s easy to see where the inspiration comes from. Watch the carvers in action Jan 19-22, or check out their impressive designs after the fact and enjoy a skate on one of Canada’s most famous lakes.
Banff’s Big Taste
By now, you’ve worked up an appetite as big as your sense of adventure. Before you get hangry, let Banff’s top 15 restaurants, breweries and distilleries tempt your tastebuds. For five flavourful days, Jan 18-22, chefs present two food samples paired with local craft beer, spirits or wine. Check out what Banff’s Big Taste has on the menu and events. We’re drooling.
After a day on the hill or resting before a powder day, check out the pros at Big Bear. Next to the Train Station, packed snow ramps are specially made for a pop-up competition. Grab a drink from the beer tent, cozy up next to the fire, and listen to some music while you watch professional skiers and snowboarders pull tricks feet from where you stand. You can even win tickets to the Official After Party to wrap up the festival.
>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.