Banff is always waiting to welcome you for a getaway, but what better time to go than the Snow Days festival – a favourite of locals and tourists alike. Taking place throughout the Banff townsite and surrounding areas from January 15 to 26, this festival has everything you could want for winter adventure. But that’s not all there is to do. Check out just some of the experiences that await.
1. See blocks of ice turn into epic masterpieces during Ice Magic Festival
The ice on Lake Louise won’t be the only thing catching your eye – the Ice Magic International Carving Competition lives up to the “magic” in the name. With an open theme in 2020, carvers from around the world gather to create sculptures to capture the imagination. Swing by mid-week for less crowds and to meet the carvers or after dark to see them aglow.
2. The Spirit of Celebration with best craft distilleries from Alberta and British Columbia.
Get into the spirit of Snow Days with the Tribute Craft Spirits Celebration – a celebration of Alberta and BC craft distilleries, showcasing the local cocktail scene and food venues. The event runs through Snow Days and culminates January 24-25 for a two-day open air tasting event on Bear Street. Bundle up and get ready to taste!
3. Watch Snow Sculpture Competition
It’s an outdoor art gallery like no other. Six teams of snow carvers will compete for the People’s Choice by transforming downtown Banff into a snow art gallery with the Snow Sculpture Competition during Snow Days. Catch the carvers in action and cast your vote for the most impressive. There’s also live music on weekends with cozy seating areas to take it all in.
4. Festival Fun for All (Barbegazi )
5. Warm up at the Hot Springs
Visitors have been coming for hundreds of years to “take the waters” at Banff Upper Hot Springs. They obviously know what they’re doing. Soak in the steamy mineral water and relax at Canada’s highest elevation hot springs. The pools are a favourite attraction year round.
6. Racedown the Hill on Cardboard Sled
Race down the Norquay Tube Park for you chance to win great prizes, and even greater bragging rights. The catch? You’ll be racing in a self-made sled built from ONLY the following items: tape, string, garbage bags, glue, and cardboard.
7. Experience the winter wonderland of Johnston Canyon on an ice walk tour
The most famous hiking trail in Banff isn’t just to be enjoyed in the summer. Johnston Canyon transforms into a must in winter with the Ice Walk. Companies such as Banff Adventures will be your guide through the ice walk as you enjoy the unforgettable views of the upper and lower falls.
8. Torchlight Dinner & Ski
Experience the Lake Louise from a whole new perspective, after hours! Beginning at the mid-mountain lodge, Whitehorn Bistro, enjoy some après ski drinks, appetizers & a live ice carving demo. Following après, enjoy first tracks down a freshly groomed run with our professional staff by Torchlight! Head to the Sitzmark Lounge where a delicious buffet dinner awaits you with a cash bar.
9. Lace up the Skates
10. Ride on a One Horse Open Sleigh
Bundle up and take a seat in the sleigh as a team of horses and the driver set out into the snow-covered wilderness of the Rockies around Banff. From daytime tours to catch the sights to cozy sunset forays under the trees, there are lots of different tours and packages to choose from with several different companies. Do the research to discover what will be best for you, then relax and enjoy the view.
11. Get Artsy at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is internationally known as a haven for written, visual, and performing arts. With resident artists, programs, and events showcasing local, national, and worldwide talents, the Centre always has something going on that will blow you away. Swing by to check out what’s going on while you’re in the area or visit the website for details.
12. Cozy around on the mountain top
Revel in the illuminated mountain peaks during Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola. Cozy up around rooftop fire-pits with a special Alpenglow cocktail. Enjoy live entertainment with family and friends. Celebrate the moment and witness the wonder of nature’s light show ad rose-coloured glow radiates on the surrounding snow-capped peaks as the dark of night is ushered in.
13. Experience Skijoring
Teams of athletes and horses from Skijor Canada will descend on the 200-block of Banff Avenue for a breath-taking exhibition of horse-riding, trick-riding, and ski stunts.
14. Step out on the Snow
Whether close to town or out in the backcountry, the forested mountains around Banff are home to fantastic opportunities for cross-country skiing. No matter your age or level of experience, there’s a trail for you, with varied difficulties and grooming levels.
15. Hit the Slopes wearing a Kilt
In the mountains, skiing and snowboarding is a no-brainer! Head to Sunshine Mountain Lodge for three mountains of diverse terrain, from easy greens to diverse double blacks, making it the place for the whole family to get out in the Rockies for adventure. Take a lesson to get started or to brush up on your skills, or head straight to the slopes and get in that fresh mountain air. Visit Sunshine wearing a kilt and ski or snowboard for FREE on Robbie Burns day.
16. Pamper Yourself at the Spa
Winner of many awards, the Willow Stream Spa brings to mind the hot springs…without having to go outside. Choose from different restore, relieve, and results treatments to get the day at the spa you’re looking for and really find a way to relax and pamper yourself after a day in the cold. Visit the website for all the package details.
When: Mid January, January 15 to 26, 2020
Where: Banff Town & Lake Louise
How much: Many Free Activities, some events are ticketed.