The Jasper Dark Sky Festival Returns This Fall — Here's How to Plan the Perfect Trip

This year, the 10-day festival takes place in mid-October.

Dark sky night with stars at Jasper National Park
Photo: Jack Fusco/Courtesy of Travel Alberta

Jasper National Park stretches over 4,000 square miles across the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. It's home to pastoral landscapes speckled with wildflowers, glittering lakes inviting visitors in for a dip, and wild animals like caribou, elk, and moose. At night, the park is at its most spectacular because of the stargazing opportunities, and one of the best ways to get a taste of the magic is at the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival.

In 2011, the park was officially designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada because of its limited light pollution, creating pristine conditions for dark sky viewing. Each year, it celebrates the stars above with the Jasper Dark Sky Festival and invites visitors, experts, and locals alike to bask in the nighttime glow and maybe even catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

"As people start looking for more unique travel experiences that are further afield, there's no adventure more otherworldly than the night sky," Myriam Bolduc, director of marketing and tourism for Jasper, Alberta, told Travel + Leisure. "This year's festival will be incredible: The drone light show is back, as well as tons of speakers who will tackle the hottest topics in space and science."

Here's what you need to know about the festival, and how to plan a perfect trip to Jasper, Alberta, for the spectacle.

Sky tram at night with the stars at Jasper Dark Sky Festival
Courtesy of Travel Alberta

What is the Jasper Dark Sky Festival?

The annual festival is held in Jasper, Alberta, with events at various locations throughout Jasper National Park. It's a 10-day stargazing celebration for all ages. This year's festival will take place from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23. The festival has offerings like hiking tours, guided talks, food-and-beverage activations, and yoga under the stars. There are even a few luxe events, like a 30-minute Big Dipper helicopter tour for two for $349 per seat (held Oct. 15-23).

What events can I expect?

Nighttime events at this year's festival include the free Fireside Chat series with Warrior Women from the Cree Nation (held Oct. 14, 15, 21), an engaged conversation about Indigenous culture with stories, drumming, and songs.

Jasper Skytram Star Sessions is an exclusive dining and stargazing event with astronomy experts from the Jasper Planetarium; it costs $154.36 for adults and $103.78 for kids and is held Oct. 14, 15, 21, 22. Guests will have access to the most powerful telescopes in the Canadian Rockies. The Symphony Under the Stars is an outdoor show by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Strings, with tickets starting at $119 per person (held on the evening of Oct. 15).

Another popular event is the ceremonial Tipi Raising known as Pahkisimon (held Oct. 22), which involves teachings, hand-drumming, and songs by Warrior Women.

Visitors can check out all the event listings here and book all experiences through this page.

Warrior women with drums at Jasper Dark Sky Festival
Courtesy of Travel Alberta

What is the weather like during the festival?

The average temperature within Jasper National Park fluctuates in October, but highs hover around 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), and the lows around -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the festival's FAQ section.

Where can I stay near the festival?

There are a handful of hotels in town, but a few of our favorites include Pyramid Lake Resort, which comes with chalet-style rooms, each with fireplaces to keep things cozy. At the suite-style Whistler's Inn, visitors can enjoy the Whistle Stop Pub which serves food, drink, and is family-friendly until 9 p.m. For guests looking for more than just a hotel room, Pine Bungalows offers visitors private cabins with full bathrooms, heated floors, gas fireplaces, and kitchens. The Pine Bungalows also have traditional hotel rooms on-site.

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