I love rhyming!
A few weeks ago, I attended my first full gay pride weekend in Jasper National Park. I have seen many gay pride events in my lifetime – including the likes of a wild parade on the canals of Amsterdam – but this was the first time I’ve ever attended a full festival. It’s also the first gay pride event I’ve attended where it’s actually too cold to remove all your clothes.
If you’re attending next year’s event, here are a few tips for making the most of the Canada’s most adventurous gay pride weekend.
Jasper Pride Weekend is growing in popularity each year. Things book up quickly, and so it’s a good idea to reserve hotel rooms and tickets in advance.
And if you’re going to book, it just makes sense to reserve a LGBT-friendly room, even if you’re an ally. After all, most of these places support pride weekend, so why not support them back? I stayed at the Whistler’s Inn – a mainstay in the centre of town. It was a SUPER handy spot to be, considering I don’t drive.
But if you’d rather drop some dolla bills and splurge a little, the Fairmont Park Lodge is EXCEPTIONAL. I mean there’s never been a Fairmont I didn’t love, but this one sits on Lac Beauvert overlooking the mountains, and it’s not uncommon to see moose or elk wandering around your accommodations at any time. The Fairmont Park Lodge also hosts a lot of the pride weekend events, so when you need to crash after a busy night of partying, it makes for a great spot to stumble home to. BUT it’s also located quite far from town, so a rental car is your best bet here.
Jasper Pride Weekend has a whole list of LGBT-friendly hotels, actually. Check ‘em out.
Plan Your Activities
If you’re planning on being adventurous, map out everything you’d like to do. Jasper Pride Weekend teams up with various local operators to give folks some options for getting out there and enjoying the Rocky Mountains.
You can participate in the dress-up ski runs in Marmot Basin, which tends to be a ridiculous amount of fun. At least that’s where I hear, because I don’t ski and I probably never will. But I saw the photos, man. It looked like a riot.
What I DID do: an ice-walk through Maligne Canyon, and then a snowshoe trek across Maligne Lake. I LOVED both these activities. The canyon was especially fun, since going down into the bottom of the riverbed is an activity only available during the winter months when the river is frozen.
The Jasper Pride Weekend website will help you reserve tickets on their calendar page, BUT you should definitely reserve your spot in advance. Things sell out quick, quick, quick!
Come Prepared to Party
I wish I had prepared a little better for the Wicked White Gala event that tops off the pride weekend. The festival organizers did an unbelievably awesome job decorating the venue at the Fairmont Park Lodge, and people went ALL OUT with their outfits. Attendees wore everything from Speedos to elaborate white costumes that must have taken AGES to put together. Colour me impressed.
There were various other party events happening around town as well, including a drag queen karaoke, a burlesque show, and some live acoustic music. Plan accordingly. The burlesque show was RAD.
Where Should I Eat?
For such a tiny town, Jasper has an abundance of awesome dining options. I ate my way through Jasper Pride Weekend like it was the apocalypse or something. SO GOOD.
For quick Italian-style pizza: Fomoso’s is fab. AND affordable.
Then there’s Evil Dave’s, which I can’t help but love because of its bizarre name and “sinful” dishes, like the Malevolent Meatloaf and the Typhoon Noodles. They have some seriously delicious cocktails too. I ordered the Fiendish Falafel, because the patties were stuffed with goat cheese and topped with green onion aioli. I mean YES.
My other favourite meal was at the Jasper Brewing Company, probably because I love beer so darn much, and this brewpub does it well. Their blueberry vanilla ale is just awesome, and they brewed a special Wicked White ale for the festival.I ended up buying $50 worth to bring back to my friend’s place in Edmonton.
Their food is awesome too! I love a place with a diverse menu, and this place has it all. I ordered the schnitzel. It was divine.
Prepare For All Temperatures
It was unusually warm during my visit to Jasper, but I’m told that it’s often quite a bit colder. Naturally, you’ll be doing a lot of outdoor activities, so bringing your snow gear is a must-do.
But since it was so warm, I often wished I had brought a lighter jacket with me as well. Instead I had to lug around a 300-lb winter coat that nearly suffocated me every time I put it on.
Jasper Pride Weekend was hella fun. I adored how the community came together to celebrate, and the local enthusiasm was catching. It doesn’t matter if your gay, straight, trans, or somewhere in between, you’re more than welcome in Jasper.
And it’s wonderful.