Jasper Pride Festival: Gay Ski Week in Alberta | Canada
The colorful story of our Highlights Jasper Pride Festival Rainbow Parade Marmot Basin 2017 in Alberta, Canada – One of our biggest destination dreams came true: Canada! We traveled to the province of Alberta to attend the 8th edition of the unique Jasper Pride Festival 2017 with a very special highlight: the gay pride parade on the ski hill of the Canadian Ski Resort Marmot Basin. It was amazing to be part of four fantastic, rainbow-colored days in the middle of Jasper National Park with an unbelievable supportive (not only) LGBTQ community. We fell in love with the family-like atmosphere of Jasper during the great events all over town center and at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge with the magnificent Rocky Mountains as the perfect backdrop.
It was time to stand together despite origin, gender and sexual orientation for one main goal: to be proud and free. The Jasper Pride Festival in Alberta exceeded our expectations by far. We felt very privileged to experience the heartwarming kindness, respect and equality and not a single homophobic moment during the Pride celebration at the municipality of Jasper within the Athabasca River valley in Canada. The town with it’s official ca. 4.500 citizens succeeded to become, not only for the short Gay Ski Week, one of the most open-minded and gay-friendly places in Alberta, Canada, North America and even worldwide. Enjoy our gay travel photo story of Jasper Pride Festival 2017 and see the Canadian town north from Banff and Lake Louise through a couple of men’s eyes!
The date for 2020: April 23rd to 26th 2020 for the 24th Edition
Road Trip Calgary to Jasper Pride Festival
It all began for us with our Winter Road Trip up North from Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway 1 and the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) through an incredible mountain scenery, heavy snowfall, and a white winter wonderland with chilly minus 20 degrees Celcius. With the Canadian Rocky Mountains of Alberta as the perfect backdrop for our drive, we had one goal within one’s grasp: the mountain town of Jasper. Once we arrived, we were overwhelmed by the feeling of being welcome and part of one strong community. All over town we faced countless rainbow flags and beautifully decorated window displays and encountered Jasper Pride Festival programs pinned on the doors of cafés and restaurants. Additional to that, we got involved in conversations with locals, who were so heartwarming helpful and proud to be part of the Jasper life, that we had to interrupt talks out of time reasons. It was sometimes difficult to remember, that the LGBTQ friendly community we are talking about, is located in a small mountain town all the way up north at least 290 km away from the next bigger city Edmonton.
Jasper Pride Festival begins with raising the Rainbow Flag
It was chilly that morning when a group of hardcore fans, guests from all over Canada and us were gathering in front of the Jasper Emergency Services building to raise the rainbow flag for the official opening of the long Jasper Pride Festival Weekend 2017. After a heartwarming welcome from the board of the Jasper Pride and speeches from the Major and politicians of Canada, the rainbow flag was raised into the blue minus 20 degrees Celsius sky and bath the Mountain town of Jasper into a colorful rainbow light. It was time to explore the Pride capital of the Rocky Mountains!
Exploring the Window Deco Competition in Jasper
It is amazing what such a small town and municipality in the middle of the Rocky Mountains can achieve, seriously. Since it felt like we were entering a dreamlike rainbow town. But it all made sense in the end, of course. The annually Window Decoration Competition of the Shops, Bars, Cafés and Restaurants of Jasper are competing to become the best, most inspiring, and creative Pride Window Deco during Jasper Pride Festival. There were only a view localities left without anything rainbowish since everyone tried its best to succeed in turning Jasper even more into the Pride Capital of the Canadian Rockies. Here are some of our favorites:
But there can only be one winner! This year’s champion of the annually Jasper Pride Festival Window Decoration Challenge is the popular and super gay-friendly (vegetarian and vegan friendly) Coco’s Café. Additional to an amazing coffee and delicious fresh made meals, Coco’s created a window to remember. Curious why?
The time and the weather has been perfect for the Ice Pride Walk into the Maligne Canyon. With minus 20 degrees and loads of fresh powder snow we hiked the frozen Maligne River together with our tour guide from SunDog Tours passing by stunning frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and the incredibly beautiful nature of Jasper National Park.
Opening Night Pride Shows at Sawridge Inn Jasper
The Jasper Pride Festival started with two extraordinary Burlesque acts from Edmonton. It seemed like everyone from Jasper Town joined the show evening at Sawridge Inn where we met locals, Canadian guests, and the artists themselves. And with what could we make a better “cheers” then with a Canadian Kokanee beer (although it is from British Columbia, and not from Alberta) in front of a Canadian Ice Hockey shirt. Enjoy our best shots of the opening event:
Show Act 1: “Send in the Girls Burlesque”
The girls from Edmonton’s “Send in the Girls Burlesque” truly understand how to get an excited audience into a motivated participating crowd. Messages like “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit” or “Pussy crabs back” made some things very clear: equality, respect, and tolerance are no matter of gender or sexual orientation nor of the size of a community. It simply is about your mindset. Thank you, girls, for the fantastic show with naked powerful body language!
Show Act 2: “MAN UP!”
Although we really enjoyed the show of the girls, we couldn’t wait to see the boys. The extraordinary men from Edmonton’s “Man Up!” have been amazingly handsome, sexy and a little nasty. Exactly the right mixture to cheer up the Pride mood of the straight and LGBT audience. Great costumes, solo parts, and a group dance choreography performance made our evening. We hope to see you guys again very soon, maybe in Edmonton?
Party Night at Jasper Pride Festival
The shows were perfect to start Jasper’s Pride Night. Excited to meet all the people participating the Jasper Pride Festival, we headed towards the town center of Jasper for some drinks before dancing the night away.
Bearded Bears with Beers at “Lum-BEAR-Jack Party”
Already an institution during Jasper Pride, the Whistle Stop Pub was our first stop of the night for the legendary “Lum-Bear-Jack Party” with Beard Contest. Together with local bears and handsome men (straight and gay) we enjoyed ourselves with some local beers and loads of laughter. The atmosphere could not have been better and so we were able to get in contact with the LGBTQ communities from Calgary, Edmonton and all the smaller towns in between celebrating the Pride event together. But be aware, Canadians know how to drink and talk. If you wanna dance, you should not miss our stop number two of the night! Special thanks to Steven Bereznai for his photos of the evening.
(Not only) Lesbian Party “Girls Night Out”
It was time for us to dance the night away. After getting into the right mood at the Lum-Bear-Jack Party, we continued the night at the Lesbian Party “Girls Night Out”. We loved the proud and free atmosphere between gays, lesbians and straight folks celebrating their night out with very much danceable music. The night could not have ended better and with a couple of new friends, we headed back to our accommodation, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
A legend, without any doubt. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, a 5 minutes car ride from Jasper Town, is one of the most famous Mountain Lodges in Alberta and was our home for a long weekend during Jasper Pride Festival. Surrounded by incredibly beautiful nature and a spectacular mountain scenery, the Fairmont JPL hosted the big closing event of Jasper Pride.
Gay Pride Parade on Marmot Basin Ski Hills
Absolutely our highlight of the weekend: the Gay Pride Parade on the Ski Hills of the Canadian Ski Resort Marmot Basin. Dressed in our tiger and bear outfits and equipped with rainbow flags, we skied and snowboarded downhill accompanied by a colored, proud, and free bunch of people who were standing (and sliding) together with one common goal: equality, freedom, and peace. It was simply beautiful to see the rainbow colors in contrast to the white winter wonderland of the Canadian Rockies. Seriously, one of the most beautiful pride moments we ever experienced. Special thanks to Steven Bereznai for his photos 1, 2 and 5. Enjoy some of our favorite shots of the day and the short video of the gigantic rainbow flag flying over the ski hills of Marmot Basin:
“Jasper Proud & Free Gala” at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
No Jasper Pride Festival would be perfect without the signature pride gala event, the popular “Proud & Free Party”! Hosted by the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the Pride Event is the annual climax of the Jasper Pride Festival. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s grand Beauvert Ballroom welcomed its guest from all over Jasper to celebrate together with the show acts ‘Send in the Girls’ with their Backstreet Boys tribute,‘Man Up!’ with their Spice Girls Tribute and the ‘Rocky Mountain Gurrrls’ Drag Queens and their Pride performances. This year’s theme: Jasper celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary so we got dressed as much “Canadian” as we could. Enjoy some of our best shots with happy people throughout the whole evening:
Dragalicious Rocky Mountain Gurrrls
The performances of the ‘Rocky Mountain Gurrrls’ – Drag Queens was a show full of passion and pride. We were thrilled by the amazing performances and the fantastic atmosphere at the Pride Gala Night. Time flew by (a little slower due to 17 drag numbers) but the people just enjoyed themselves celebrating the 8th Jasper Gay Pride Festival.
Highlight of the Night: Accomplishing a Rainbow Crosswalk
One of the most emotional pride moments we ever witnessed. Town favorite drag superstar and organizer of OutJasper organized a benefit auction to make a rainbow crosswalk in the town center of Jasper possible. This crosswalk costs approximately 5000,- Canadian Dollars. The moment it was clear the collected amount was not enough, LGBTQ people of the audience raised their arms to donate smaller and bigger amounts of money to make the pride project still possible. Everyone was speechless and overwhelmed of the energy flooding the gala. And the moment everything was almost archived, Mister Al”Bear”ta and the owner of the Coco’s Café Jasper donate the missing amount to accomplish the amount for the Rainbow Crosswalk in Jasper. WOW!
The best Gala-Pride-Evening Photos in our Slideshow Gallery:
Our Highlights Jasper Pride Festival at Marmot Basin in Alberta
It truly was a very special occasion that brought us all the way over the Atlantic Ocean to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Alberta. And it was worth every effort, cold feet, and scary moments driving through the meter high powder snow. The strong connected, diverse and open-minded community of Jasper is a great example how even the smallest mountain town can be a place of peace for gay men, lesbian women, trans-, intersex and simply all kind of queer people. Equality and Freedom are no questions of size. It is a question of courage, respect, and acceptance that every single one of us is different and that this individuality makes us strong individually and together. Thank you, Jasper Pride Festival for a fantastic, unforgettable, and extraordinary colorful Pride Event! We hope we will be able to come back to Canada as soon as possible!
Karl & Daan
Thank you, Travel Alberta, Tourism Jasper, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and Jasper Pride Festival and the wonderful locals of Jasper, Alberta, and Canada for making this incredible trip possible. Nevertheless, our opinion, our writings, and our pictures are our own, as always.