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Written BY: Sabrina Doyle

12 amazing events coming to the 2020 dark sky festival

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  • Location

    Jasper, Alberta, Canada

Each October for the past decade, the Jasper Dark Sky Festival has brought star-studded line-ups and legions of amateur astronomers to the mountains.  

This year – our tenth anniversary – the festival will look a little different. Due to Covid-19, there will be some changes to prioritize safety for all involved, as well as lots of new opportunities to learn and see the stars. But the awe we feel when looking up at the stars is universal, and we look forward to showcasing the world’s second largest dark sky preserve in a new way. 

Check out some of the plans we have in store, below. Note that advance booking is almost always required.  


When: Twice daily from Oct. 16 – 25, 10:30am to 12pm and 12:30pm to 2pm 

Attention navigation nerds and GPS groupies! There are over 3 million geocaches scattered across this globe, and we can’t wait to find all of Jasper’s hidden treasures through this outdoor recreational activity that’s fun for the whole family.  

Fireside Chat

When: Oct. 16, 17, 23, 24 from 7pm to 10pm 

Hear the Indigenous stories of the land, feel the heartbeat of the drum and spend time with a local Indigenous Knowledge Keeper with this truly unique and personal experience. The Fireside Chat with Warrior Women features drumming, singing and interactive story tellingMasks will be required for all audience members. 

Science for breakfast

When: Oct. 17, 18, 24, 25, 9am to 10am 

This audience-fav event from last year’s Dark Sky Festival is coming back in a new way. With reduced capacity (but more event dates), book ahead to secure a spot at these tasty, fascinating starts to the day. Freelance scientist and CBC radio personality Torah Kachur will present on the first two dates. She’ll explore what it might mean to send our microbiomes to Mars. 

Shawna Pandya is physician, speaker, martial artist, citizen-scientist astronaut candidate, and will be taking the stage for the second two dates. Her topic will cover the medical and health challenges we face as we send more humans to space.  

Star Sessions at The Jasper SkyTram

When: Oct. 17, 24 from 6:15 to 10:30pm 

Get closer to the stars on any of the Saturdays of September and October. Join astronomy experts from The Jasper Planetarium for an exclusive dining and stargazing experience atop the Jasper Skytram at the summit of Whistler’s Mountain.  

Peak-Nic Under the Stars

When: Oct. 22 from 7pm to 10pm 

Get a backcountry cooking demo, a meal under the stars and a dark sky presentation by staff from the Jasper Planetarium all in one! This unique event reimagines a favourite outdoor experience and also includes a short, steep hike to a stunning lookout.  

Trivia Night

When: Oct. 23, 24 from 9pm to 11pm 

Test your space and science trivia prowess at the Downstream Lounge. Gather a team of two or four of your brightest friends and get ready for a fun and entertaining mental battle. Hosted by Canadian television personality Alan Nursall. 

Blast off with Edmonton Rocketry Club 

When: Oct. 24 from 1pm to 5pm 

See some mid and high-powered rockets and talk with members of the Edmonton Rocketry Club, a group interested in building and safely flying model rockets of all sizes and power classesAfternoon weather permitting, they will launch some rockets at Centennial Field! 

Lecture from Robert Thirsk and Nicole Stott 

When: Oct. 24 from 4pm to 6pm 

There may not be a big festival tent this year, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a fascinating keynote talk to look forward to! Former astronauts Robert Thirsk and Nicole Stott will be presenting virtually, meaning anyone anywhere can tune in and take part in the Jasper Dark Sky Festival.  

Evening with Rob Meyerson and Adam Stelzner 

When: Oct. 24 from 8pm to 10pm 

Since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon in 1969, humanity has looked to Mars as the logical next step for human space exploration. Is living on Mars in our future? What will it take to get there and what will it take to stay there? Should we stop at the Moon on the way, or go straight for Mars? Join Adam Steltzner and Rob Meyerson for a conversation about space exploration, the red planet and the human need to explore. 

Animals of the night hike 

When: Oct. 18, 25 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm 

Take the family on a guided night hike up Pyramid Bench to learn all about Jasper’s nocturnal wildlife from Jasper Hikes & Tours’ experienced interpretive guides. Along the 4km route catch great views of the Dark Sky Preserve as well as the town lit up at night.   

Dinner in the Dark

When: Oct. 17 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm 

Less light, more taste. Go on a culinary adventure that’s out of this world. By taking the sense of sight out of the equation, your sense of touch, smell and taste will be intensified. Savor the aromas, the sounds, the textures and flavors. Tickets include a five course dinner, four sample pairings and gratuities

Planetarium experiences 

When: October 1 to 25, multiple times daily 

The Jasper Planetarium runs daily experiences year round, but from October 1-25 they’re really taking it to the next level. Catch one of their fun, informative and interactive shows in the planetarium dome located on the grounds of the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and/or inspect the night sky through their telescopes (the largest in the Rockies!).