Heading to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (JPL) to experience Christmas in November (CIN) has become my favourite event of the year. Who wouldn’t love escaping to the mountains to spend your days in interactive culinary sessions with local and celebrity chefs, getting your Christmas decor and craft on, and indulging in decadent meals and a few adult beverages. The hardest part is deciding which session to go to and when to fit in a dip in the heated pool.
The first Jasper CIN I attended was five years ago for their 25th anniversary, and I can tell you they like to celebrate anniversaries. This year, the Fairmont JPL team is going all out to put on the best Christmas in November yet! The event is already close to a sell out, so if you want to rub elbows with Food Network Canada culinary stars, learn tips and tricks on how to DIY (do it yourself) your holiday decor, and get all the recipes you need to host the perfect holiday dinner, you better book quickly.
In honour of the Fairmont JPL’s Christmas In November 30th anniversary, here are 30 reasons you won’t want to miss Canada’s finest Christmasy food & wine festival:
1. The Chuck & Danny show is coming to Jasper
Hot of the heels of last year’s headlining gig, celebrity chef Chuck Hughes is coming back for another year of Christmas in November. This time, he is bringing co-star of Food Network’s Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip, and Chef de Cuisine of Chuck Hughes restaurant Le Bremner in Montreal, Danny Smiles.
2. Get your Tailgate on with Michael & Anna Olson
It happens just one time per three-day package, and you won’t want to miss this BBQ class. Chef Michael Olson will have every grill and smoker he can get his hands on for this year’s Ultimate Outdoor Tailgating session, supported by Alberta Pork. Featuring Anna Olson, who brings some sweetness to the meat fest, the tailgate party is going to be must-taste session again this year.
3. Wine tasting with Charton Hobbs
Who doesn’t want a glass of wine during their weekend in the mountains? I’ve learned loads at these sessions in past years, including how to saber a bottle of champagne. This year Charton Hobbs will be featuring the best of British Columbian wines.
4. Silly Sweater Party
There are some seriously creative CINers out there and I swear they must start planning their outfits in the summer. I’ve seen everything from hilarious holiday sweaters, to groups in adult-sized Christmas onesies, to a woman who dressed like the female Grinch. The silly sweater party is the best way to get you in the holiday spirit and kick your CIN off with some glitter and giggles.
5. Learn how healthy food can taste delicious with a Looneyspoons creator
Author of five best-selling cook books and a Food Network Canada alumni, Greta Podleski is attending CIN for her 1st time. Learn about Greta’s self-publishing success story as she shares simple, delicious and healthy recipes to mix up the traditional a calorie-heavy holiday season.
6. Get your Christmas craft on
Chris Standring’s craft class is one of the most popular at CIN. You get to go home with a holiday craft that is ready to go on your table or door. Each year is a different craft and registration fills up quickly.
7. Learn baking secrets from Edmonton’s most popular bakery
There is a reason that Giselle Courteau is back presenting for her 4th year at CIN – its because people can’t get enough of her tips, tricks, and recipes from the Duchess Bakery.
8. Shaken & Stirred with Micah Dew
In addition to co-hosting CIN, Micah will be sharing his flair bar-tending tips to ensure the bar at your holiday party is well stocked to deliver some seasonably satisfying holiday beverages.
9. Get cooking with Corbin Tomaszeski
Before he was on such Food Network shows including Restaurant Makeover, Dinner Party Wars, and The Incredible Food Race, Corbin Tomaszeski was an Alberta boy growing up on a farm outside of Edmonton. Eager to share his philosophy that making good food can be fun for the whole family, you’re sure to walk away with easy-to-follow recipes from this Food Network star.
10. Photos with Santa!
When the Spaniard first came to CIN with me a few years ago he confessed that it was the first time he was sitting on Santa’s lap. (Apparently you get your photo with one of the three wise men in Spain). No waiting in line at the mall and feeling awkward because you are an adult at the JPL. Getting my photo with Santa is something I look forward to at CIN each year. (Chef Michael Olson won bonus points last year for creativity).
11. Get inspired in Cory Christopher’s Decor Cabin
Designer Cory Christopher is bursting with not only holiday spirit, but ideas, tips and tricks on how to style your home for the holiday season. The Fairmont JPL let him and his design team take over one of the signature cabins at the lodge and go crazy with bows, bells, and boughs.
12. Let some of Alberta’s top chefs share their love of local ingredients
The Jasper CIN local line up of chefs is incredible this year! CIN alumni chef Paul Rogalski, Culinary Director & Co-Owner, Rouge Restaurant, Calgary, and chef Blair Lebsack, who with partner and General Manager Caitlin Fulton founded RGE RD in Edmonton, are both back for another year.
13. Visit the JPL Greenhouse for a DIY decor lesson
Marna Praill, Grounds Superintendent and Head Gardener at the JPL, partners up with Stevie Massie to deliver a very unique CIN experience. With just a short ride to the greenhouse, CIN guests are transported into a magic space where you’ll learn simple and inspiring ways to incorporate live foliage and flowers to your home for the holidays. Every year I have returned from their class to make a DIY holiday project with friends.
14. Enjoy the view from the Fairmont JPL hot tub
No better view of the Jasper National Park than from the outdoor hot tub at the Fairmont JPL.
15. Receive the VIP experience with a celebrity chef hosted kitchen party
Ok, so this experience is limited to those who opt for the VIP CIN package, but it is an incredible experience to get up close and personal with some of the celebrity chefs for an exclusive culinary experience. Last year it was Vikram Vij who spiced things up at the kitchen party – you’ll have to opt for the upgrade to see who is taking over the kitchen for the 30th anniversary celebration.
16. You can bring your clan, or your man
Jasper CIN is reason to celebrate. I’ve seen groups of ladies making the trip, three generations of women in the same family, and in recent years, more men! Young and old couple alike are increasing and with events like scotch tasting, the tailgate party and beer tastings, there is something for everyone.
17. Learn the lowdown on how to recreate a weekend at the cottage
CIN co-host and creator of Weekend at the Cottage Nik Manojlovich is back for another year at the Fairmont JPL. Learn comfort classic recipes as he regales you with stories from his time on the television series Savoir Faire. (Be sure to ask him about that time he bumped into Bette Middler).
18. Learn a lesson on Canadian culinary history with Elizabeth Baird
I absolutely love Elizabeth Baird and Emily Richard’s culinary sessions. Elizabeth, who was awarded the Order of Canada – one of the nation’s highest honour’s for her contributions to the promotion of Canada’s diverse food heritage, is the former food editor for Canadian Living Magazine. Joining her is Emily, returning for her 19th CIN. Emily is the author and co-author of numerous cookbooks, she’s a professional home economist, and worked in Canadian Living’s Test Kitchen. In past sessions I have learned that butter tarts are a Canadian invention and also busted a gut laughing with Elizabeth’s zippy one liners and constant teasing of Emily.
19. A reason to get gussied up
You know that dress or gown in your closet you’ve been waiting to wear at a special occasion, you can wear it at Jasper CIN! I love vintage clothes, so all year I am on the hunt for special pieces I can bust out for the gala evening at CIN. Furs, diamonds, you name it! Christmas in November is the perfect place to dress up for the holidays.
20. The food – beautiful & delicious
There is absolutely no chance of going hungry during Jasper CIN. Between the samples dished out during the culinary sessions the culinary team at the Fairmont JPL is busy serving up beautifully plated dishes at lunch and dinner. Some of the desserts are so beautiful you don’t want to eat them… almost.
21. Learn how to better support Alberta farmers at a fireside chat
Taste Alberta rounds up some of the local chefs and members/farmers of their seven partnering commodity groups: Alberta Canola, Egg Farmers of Alberta, Alberta Milk, Alberta Pulse Growers, Alberta Chicken Producers, Alberta Turkey Producers, and Alberta Pork to help you learn how your purchasing power can better support local farmers and producers.
22. Dance! Dance! Dance! at CIN After Dark
A new addition to the CIN line up this year will be CIN after dark with Edmonton’s Girls Club (DJs Suzy & Jacqueline). You’re sure to burn some calories out on the dance floor so JPL will be sure to keep you hydrated with signature cocktails and some memorable culinary experiences from their lineup of celebrity chefs.
23. Be one with nature
While the bears are most likely hibernating by the first week in November, the elk are often fattening for winter throughout the Fairmont JPL grounds. Last year as I was walking to the main lodge for breakfast I saw an elk with a full rack walking along the waters edge. It almost looked too perfect – but that is just a typical day at the JPL.
24. Learn insider tips from the Fairmont JPL pastry kitchen
New to the Fairmont JPL CIN line up this year is Stephanie Greenslade, the JPL’s new pastry chef. You have to love a chef with a motto of ‘when one indulges in dessert ensure it is the best tasting item they have eaten today.’
25. Get in the Christmas spirit with The Willows
Most likely your arrival to CIN at the Fairmont JPL will coincide with the beautiful sounds of The Willows. It’s hard not to get into the Christmas spirit with the harmonious sounds from this beautiful trio of singers.
26. Get a head start on your holiday gift giving (or just treat yourself)
Indulge at this year’s Expanded Christmas Market Shopping Experience – featuring a wide array of products from Cory Christopher, Duchess Bakery, Jaqueline Jacek, and many other Alberta retailers.
27. Relax and recharge at the Fairmont JPL Spa
You wouldn’t want to get stressed out running from one interactive session to the next during CIN. There is still time to book in for a massage, pedicure and much more. The Spa at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge ensures an experience unlike any other—one that gives you the time and space you need to breathe, dream and reflect on the natural abundance that surrounds you.
28. Signature Cocktails
I can get dry in the mountains, so it is important to stay hydrated. Thankfully there are plenty of signature cocktails to try during CIN that are bursting with holiday flavour. When in doubt, the JPL caesar is sure to please.
29. Get your photo with the biggest gingerbread house you’ve ever seen!
Every year the culinary team at the Fairmont JPL builds a life sized gingerbread house in time for CIN. Every time I have walked by it or through it I’ve noticed something else to be impressed with, inspired by, or even tempted by.
30. Three nights at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Even without the celebrity chefs, all the incredible food, or the holiday decor, three nights at the Fairmont Jasper Park lodge is incredible. The accommodation is amazing and the staff are there to help make your CIN the most magical experience you’ve ever had in the mountains.
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s 30th anniversary of Christmas in November is sure to sell out. Registration for sessions is now open – so book now if you want to experience Canada’s best Christmas culinary adventure!