The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge throws one heck of a holiday party. Christmas in November, its annual 10-day festival of food and wine, celebrates the best of the season. It’s an Instagram hotspot that promises to push your sense of child-like seasonal wonder into overdrive. The bonus? No next-day dishes. Here are my five favourite things about the event:
The merriment begins with most elaborate silly sweater party you’ll ever attend. Think live music, atrocious sweaters (or suits), and tables piled with bite-sized deliciousness. Oh, and wine. A lot of wine. So much so that your silly sweater will no longer feel silly. And the party continues, with impromptu gatherings in the Man Cabin (women welcome too, of course), Christmas dinner, and casual acapella concerts. On the final evening, be sure to don your holiday best for photos with Santa during the cocktail hour at the grand gala.
Christmas in November is like walking into a snow globe. Consider the life-sized walk-through gingerbread house that connects the reception area with the Emerald Lounge. Or the soaring Christmas tree draped with hundreds of ornaments and lights. There are wreathes, boughs, bows and bells decking almost every hall. So ditch décor-envy and enrol in one of the holiday-how-to sessions. The lodge’s head-gardener offers tips on decorating with festive plants and flowers. And designer guru Cory Christopher is returning in 2017 to share his holiday inspired creations.
Two words: elastic waistband. Pack a pair of expandable paints because you’ll be moving from holiday brunch to happy hour to turkey dinner, with plenty to munch in between. The Fairmont culinary team puts on an amazing spread, from sprawling ballroom-sized buffets with ice sculptures, fresh seafood and countless carving stations, to elegantly plated four-course meals. First timer tip: Go easy at breakfast because you need to pace your eating. And watch out for the self-serve hot chocolate and candy stations. They are a slippery slope.
Christmas in November always draws some culinary heavy hitters. Many are Food Network TV celebrities, and most return year after year. You’ll have the chance to make flawless flakey pastry with Anna Olson, and barbeque like a boss with her husband Michael Olson. Join Chef Ned Bell for a lesson on preparing sustainable seafood. Hang out with Vikram Vij, for spicy Indian dishes and equally spicy stories.
Shake it like a pro at a cocktail class. Award-winning mixologist Micah Dew is back again for 2017, sharing his classic and holiday recipes. It’s an interactive class, which means you’ll get a taste of every concoction. Micah is also the mastermind behind Christmas in November ‘s signature holiday cocktails, which are served – in abundance – before the evening events. Favour wine? Enrol in Charton Hobbs’ grape-to-glass workshop. This year, Christmas in November celebrates Canada 150 with a 90-minute tasting of western Canada’s best, paired with local cheeses. First timer tip: Schedule your cocktail class and wine tasting on different days.