By the second week, the Jasper Dark Sky Festival is in full swing. There’s outdoor concerts, rocketry demonstrations, and experts in the fields of science, astronomy, technology and more. From Thursday, October 19 to Sunday, October 22, the schedule is packed. This itinerary will get you to some of the premiere events while also showing you some of Jasper’s top autumn sights.
Friday, Oct. 20
Morning – Wildlife Tour
Did you know that the autumn is an amazing time to see Jasper's famous wildlife in action? The bull elk have grown dramatic antlers and are in a time of year known as 'the rut,' when they fight other males for dominance. Going on a Wildlife Discovery Tour (9am to 12:30pm) will ensure you have the best chance of seeing them in action, while also keeping you safe!
Afternoon – Bioblitz or Geocaching
Grab lunch at one of Jasper's amazing local restaurants, then it's time to let your inner nerd fly! Anyone can participate in the WISEST Scavenger Hunt and Bioblitz, which is free and runs all month. The goal? Using the iNaturalist app, record as many observations of living things in Jasper National Park, from plants, insects, fungi and animals! Alternatively, fire up the GPS unit and go Geocaching!
Evening – Cocktails and Star Sessions
After a day of exploring, get ready for a sophisticated and unique evening. Start at 6pm with a tasty pairing of pizza while learning about the Science of Cocktails; then zip up to the Jasper SkyTram for their later Star Sessions (7:45pm– 10pm). The Twinkling Skies version will include planetarium dome, arrival drinks and telescope experience.
Saturday, Oct. 21
Morning - Science for Brunch with Patrick Pilarski
Start the day right, with the 11am-1pm Science for Brunch with Patrick Pilarski. In this talk, bionic limb researcher and artificial intelligence expert Dr. Patrick Pilarski will walk you through what it means to have robots and other devices tightly coupled to the human body. He’ll discuss examples of how humans work and grow alongside bionic devices, and how we can train them to improve over time using machine learning.
Afternoon – Rockets and Pahkisimon
Head to Commemoration Park for the Blast Off event to examine various levels of model rockets that you can build at home. Depending on the weather, members of the Edmonton Rocketry Club will also be demonstrating some of their larger rockets throughout the afternoon. Then drive to Lake Annette for the always sold-out ᐸᐦᑭᓯᒧᐣ pahkisimon, which showcases Indigenous performers from 5pm-7pm as the sun sets behind the lake. Note that the event is limited by parking space, so if the event shows as sold out but you're able to get a ride, you're still welcome to come.
Evening – Outdoor concert and Drone Light Show
Jay Ingram and the dark sky band are back in Commemoration Park with a new show! Music, images and narration tell the story of our future. Will we be silicon/cytoplasm hybrids? Where will we live? For that matter, will we live forever? Or is it all just a giant game of The Sims? Concert goes from 7:30pm-8:45pm, with the Drone Light Spectacle following immediately after. After that wraps, head to the Jasper Legion for Trivia Night with Alan Nursall from 9:30-11pm.
Sunday, Oct. 22
Morning – Science for Breakfast
8am-9am -Talk Nerdy to Me; Find your people and make new friends at this coffeehouse social. Local experts will be on hand to answer festival questions, or you can just grab a latte and discuss the big astronomical issues of the day with other attendees. Get a free large brewed coffee with the purchase of a pastry (muffin, croissants, scone, or a yogurt parfait) to help kickstart the day!
9am –11am - Science for Breakfast with Erich Karkoschka. Join Planetary Scientist Erich Karkoschka to learn how to observe deep-sky objects in the night sky, whether using the naked eye, binoculars, or a large telescope. Karkoschka will explain observing methods and will describe which objects you can expect to see under the darkest skies and which can be observed from light-polluted towns.
Afternoon - Science for Lunch and shopping
Noon-1pm - Science for Lunch with Matthew Guzdial. In this talk, Matthew Guzdial, an expert on AI in games, will cover how human developers use AI to bring these worlds to life. Oh and don't forget about the lunch buffet.
1pm-4pm Starlight Shop. Looking for a souvenir of your amazing dark sky festival experience? Take a few hours and explore downtown Jasper and its many unique stores. Bonus that that Starlight Shop event is happening all weekend long and is a great opportunity to nab some deals.
Evening – See more of the stars
You can't come to the Jasper Dark Sky Preserve and NOT do the Planetarium and Telescope COMBO. This package deal includes a show in the unique local planetarium dome, followed by stargazing through the Rockies' biggest telescopes. Catch the 4:45-6:15pm time slot so you're ready to head back to town for the 7pm Science of Brewing event at the Jasper Brewing Co. If you've ever wanted to go beyond a regular brewery tour,this in-depth sensory training is for you. Learn to pick out different flavours from your beer, dig into the science behind our quality controls and above all else taste some beers and eat some great food. Ticket includes: all tasting beers, unique food pairings, 4 pack of 473ml tall cans including the festival-exclusive Ursa Major Berry Lemonade Sour, and a 16oz Jasper Branded Logo Glass to take home.
Finally, from 9pm-10pm enjoy a Laser Guided Tour of the Constellations with Brian Catto from Parks Canada. Bring a chair or blanket to Marmot Meadows and soak up the last evening of the second weekend.