Thursday, Oct. 12
Early bird catches the astronaut! Although technically the festival doesn’t start until the next day, those who arrive a day early have the chance to meet the first Canadian to go to space.
An Intimate Evening with Marc Garneau
You might know him best as being Canada’s first astronaut (as well holding the record for most trips to space by any Canadian). But Garneau’s resume has plenty of other impressive gems, including military officer, engineer, politician, and at this event, guest speaker. Presented by the Rotary Club of Jasper, this exclusive event includes a delectable 3-course plated dinner, silent auction of high-quality items, and of course Garneau’s talk. Every dollar raised will go toward supporting the Rotary’s local charitable service activities. The event goes from 6pm to 11pm.
Friday, Oct. 13
Morning – Geocaching or lakeside breakfast
Wake up and fill your lungs with that fresh mountain air! If you’re eager to get moving and grooving, fire up your GPS unit (or smartphone) and get Geocaching! This daily, self-guided activity is free and is a great way to discover hidden treasures around Jasper. Just snag an account at geocaching.com, pick a cache and, like a bloodhound on the scent, track your way there. There are more than 20 geocaches in the townsite and at least 100 around the national park. Some are EarthCaches: unique geological features that teach us about Earth’s past!
Or, if you’re looking for something a little quieter, head ten minutes out of town to Pyramid Lake. There, new restaurant Aalto awaits with stunning views of Pyramid Mountain and an exquisite menu. Dig into brioche French toast with marzipan custard, or seek savory with their double duck omelette. Breakfast is offered from 8am to 11am.
Afternoon – Sightseeing and guided tours
Time to see more of Jasper! While you could totally just head out and explore on your own, a tour can help you effortlessly see the top sights while learning from entertaining local guides about Jasper’s history, wildlife, geology and more along the way. Also, this is the last weekend before many of the summer tours shut down for the season (both options below close after Oct. 15).
Jasper Motorcycle Tours
Harley Davidson fans will drool over this hair-whipping good time, which Destination called a Signature Experience. Even if the weather’s a little nippy, you’ll be snug and comfortable in your heated vest and roughrider leathers. Tours last one, two, or three hours and depart multiple times through the morning and afternoon.
Wildlife and Waterfalls Tour
Dive headfirst into the natural wonderland that is Jasper National Park with this 5.5 hour tour from Maligne Adventures. Board a 24-seat minibus and head up the wildlife-rich Maligne Valley, hitting beautiful hotspots along the way like Medicine Lake, Maligne Lake, and Maligne Canyon, where you’ll stop for a half hour interpretive nature walk and a quick lunch at the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen. Stay sharp for moose and bear sightings! Tour goes from 9:30am to 3pm.
Evening – Star Sessions
Get even closer to the stars with the Jasper SkyTram’s Star Sessions. Zoom up Whistlers Mountain to the tram’s upper station. Have dinner in the restaurant (if that was the ticket option you chose) and inspect the heavens through some of the largest telescopes in the Rockies. Departures start at 5pm, with returns down the mountain around 10pm.
Alternatively, you could attend the Solar telescopes at 5pm then head to either the free Fireside Chat with an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper at 7pm OR the Aurora Chasers Welcome Reception (with Alberta Aurora Chaser founder Chris Ratzlaff and astro photographer Mike Gere) at 8pm.
Saturday, Oct. 14
Morning – Spa or Hike
The thing about dark sky festivals is that many events take place after the sun has set. So sometimes it’s nice to take it easy in the mornings. At Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the Spa has almost any wellness treatment you could want, from massages to body treatments to eucalyptus steams. Or you could head to the outdoor hot tub and softly wake up with a leisurely soak.
If you’ve got a bit more energy, you could hit the trails for a bit of forest bathing. Multiple routes leave straight from town, or you could go on a guided hike of Maligne Canyon. Jasper Hikes & Tours has an excursion that goes from 8am to 11am, though you should contact in advance availability.
Afternoon – Science for lunch with Jeanine Holowatuik
From noon to 2pm it’s time to feed the belly AND the mind. Join Jeanine Holowatuik , avid aurora chaser, astro-photographer and guide to hear about her aurora chasing adventures, the importance of dark sky awareness and the magical beauty of the night sky. Lunch is included in the $40 ticket.
Evening – Symphony Under the Stars
Get ready for one of the Jasper Dark Sky Festival’s most mesmerizing flagship events. Cozy up with a blanket and witness the magic of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Strings. Listen as the melodies fill the open air, amplified by Lac Beauvert beside you and the mountain amphitheater surrounding you. Located at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, ticket buyers have the choice of concert only, or arriving early for dinner at the luxurious Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge beforehand. There are also packages available that include two nights accommodation at Fairmont plus a Friday night welcome reception. Doors open for the dinner option at 5pm.
Catch Bettymaya Foott from the International Dark-Sky Association discuss the importance of preserving dark skies and empower you with tools and inspiration. The event is from 6pm to 8pm and includes dinner. Then at 9pm, convene at the Jasper Planetarium for an interactive exploration of Jasper’s skies and stories, and a stargazing session with the largest telescopes in the Rockies.
Sunday, Oct. 15
Morning – Science for Brunch with Marlos Machado
From 10am to noon, dig into some brunch while Dr. Machado digs into artificial intelligence. In this talk, we’ll be looking at how an AI algorithm is helping guide super pressure balloons through the stratosphere. Although the stratosphere is similar to space, but it’s got its own tangle of factors. So how can a balloon get up there for weather monitoring, aerial photography, telecommunications, and technology validation for long-duration space missions – all without engines or fuel? Attend to find out.
Afternoon – Shopping
Whether you're getting ahead of holiday shopping or just in search of a good deal, the Moonlight Market during the Jasper Dark Sky Festival is the can't-miss shopping opportunity of the season. Before leaving town, head over to some of Jasper's great local retailers for a token of your cosmic memories, or just grab some adventure-ready gear!