Picture it: making gooey smores over an outdoor fire, strapping on snowshoes surrounded by majestic mountains, throwing snowballs inside a pub while sipping a pint of beer, even sporting a Speedo while leaping into an icy lake.
Scott, who has Type 1 diabetes, says the charity swim raises thousands of dollars each year for diabetes research. And it’s also just plain fun. Some of the 40 people who do the dip each year at Patricia Lake even show up in costume. Scott admits that one time he pulled on a ballet tutu and rabbit ears before diving in.
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Jasper is about a 3 ½-hour drive west of Edmonton. To many, it’s considered Banff’s little sister. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While Banff is crowded and commercial, Jasper is more quiet and laid-back.
The addition of hotels, spas and five-star restaurants hasn’t dampened its cosy and comfortable feel. And Jasper in January captures that allure, right from ice skating on a frozen pond to noshing on some homemade chili.
In fact, the chili cook-off this Friday night is the only event that has carried on each year since the festival started 24 years ago. Would-be chefs team up and mix pots of chili at the local activity centre, creating more than a dozen flavours that anyone can buy and sample.
Darling says the street party this Saturday is also one of the festival’s most popular events. The town’s main road is closed to traffic so vendors can sell food, such as burgers and pizza. There will also be street performers, Aboriginal drummers and other live music.
For the first time, liquor will be served from an ice bar along the way. And for those who need a different kind of warmup, there will be several fire pits going. People can roast marshmallows and settle around the fire with guitars to strum some tunes.
The night caps off with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. — early enough for the kiddies.
“It’s really magical to be out in the winter and just renewing your energy about what you can do.”
JUST THE FACTS
Jasper in January runs through Jan. 27. Most hotels are offering hot deals during the festival and Marmot Basin is also giving discounts on its ski lift tickets. For more information, including a full calendar of events, check out jasperinjanuary.com or jasper.travel.