Christmas in Banff & Lake Louise: What to do this December

Travel, Safety & What to Expect

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Christmas in Banff & Lake Louise: What to do this December

It’s that time of year again. The snow is falling, the trees are sparkling, and Christmas in Banff and Lake Louise is right around the corner. If you’re going to be here this Christmas, boy oh boy do we have Christmas events in Banff lined up for you! From a hot chocolate scavenger hunt to skiing with the man in red himself, read on to find out what to do in Banff and Lake Louise this Christmas.

Download the full Christmas Itinerary here, and check off your activities as you go!

(On mobile, select ‘save to files’ for full interactive pdf)

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In Search of Christmas Spirit, a story told by the illuminated wildlife of Banff National Park, is just one of the amazing Christmas events in Banff and Lake Louise happening this December!

Hunt for hot chocolate

Sweet tooths’ listen up, this one’s for you. Starting Nov. 20 through Jan. 1, you can follow the most delicious trail in Banff National Park – the hot chocolate trail! Along this dangerously indulgent path, you can find 15 participating cafes, bars and restaurants all with a signature (and limited edition) hot chocolate. Does the hot and spicy Myan Mocha, at Magpie & Stump, call your name? What about the Snow Angel, at the Juniper Bistro, with toasted marshmallow and white chocolate? 

What: Hot Chocolate Trail

When: Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022

Where: See the list of all participating cafes, bars, and restaurants (and their limited edition creations) for this Christmas event in Banff, here.

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Follow the Hot Chocolate Trail throughout the month of December. At Banff Sunshine’s Chimney Corner, try the white hot chocolate with Rum Chata and white chocolate drizzle.

Search for the spirit of Christmas 

Searching for Christmas magic? Back by popular demand, In Search of Christmas Spirit is an extravaganza of light and sound for all ages. This event is so popular, in fact, it is already sold out! Guided by the glow of a lantern, you can follow your way across Banff’s century-old Bow River Bridge to the illuminated grounds of Cascade of Time Gardens. There, the wildlife of Banff National Park will tell you the true story of Christmas in Banff and the folklore of these mountain lands. If you can still get your hands on some tickets, grab them with both hands!

What: In Search of Christmas Spirit

When: Nov. 24, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022

Where: Cascade of Time Gardens

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In Search for Christmas Spirit takes place in the Cascade of Time Gardens throughout the month of December. | Photo by Paul Zizka, courtesy of Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Try a festive local beer

Nothing says Christmas like a warm winter ale. That, and laughing until your face hurts with the people you love most. This December, tick both off of your list at Banff’s Craft Beer Festival, located just off of Bear Street in the big tent. At the event, more than 30 vendors from all over Alberta will be showcasing their best brews. Plus, from Dec. 3-11, it’s Banff Craft Beer Week – where you can find several pint-sized specials and limited-edition flights at bars and restaurants across Banff. 

What: Banff Craft Beer Festival & Banff Craft Beer Week

When: Banff Craft Beer Festival: Dec. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 | Banff Craft Beer Week: Dec. 3 -11

Where: Bear Street parking lot (festival grounds) | Banff Craft Beer Week takes solace at participating restaurants and bars, see the list here.

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The Banff Craft Beer Festival is happening Dec. 3-11. | Photo courtesy of Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Play a game of shinny on Lake Louise 

We bet you’ve seen a game of hockey or two before, but have you played a game of shinny? Shinny (or “shimmy”) is when you pick up a stick, clear some snow, and play a game of hockey in the great outdoors, on wild ice. There are no rules, no real nets, just a puck and a few friends. At Banff Adventures, you can rent a hockey stick and some skates to bring to Lake Louise, where you’ll find a few rinks cleared for a totally Canadian game of ice hockey. If you’re just in the mood for a skate, the Chateau Ski and Snow, Chateau Lake Louise’s rental shop, can hook you up with a pair of ice skates when you arrive.

See the FULL 2021 Festive Guide at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise 

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Wondering what to do in Banff at Christmas? Rent a hockey stick and a pair of skates and play a game of shinny on Lake Louise. | Photo courtesy of Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Browse the new Bear Street Holiday Market

Wondering what to do in Banff this Christmas? New this year, the Bear Street Holiday Market is the cutest holiday hot spot in Banff and Lake Louise. Located just off Bear Street, set up in the main parking lot, this arts and crafts market will feature jewelry, art, and gifts galore made by local artisans from the Canadian Rockies and across Alberta. Wear your coziest scarf and stroll through the stalls, styled after individual wooden cabins. With live Christmas music and smells of wood-burning campfires in the air, there’s no way this holiday market won’t send your Christmas spirit into overdrive. 

What: Bear Street Holiday Market

When: Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from Nov. 19 – Dec. 12 (Fridays 4 pm – 9 pm, Saturdays & Sundays 10 am – 6 pm) | Daily from Dec. 17 – 24 & 26 – 31 (10 am – 6 pm)

Where: Bear Street parking lot

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The Bear Street Holiday Market is Banff’s hottest new holiday hot spot for gifts galore. Located just off Bear Street. | Photo courtesy of Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Take little ones to “the North Pole”

Got the little ones in tow with you this Christmas? Why not take them to the North Pole? Located in the Gatehouse Foyer of the Fairmont Banff Springs, “the North Pole” is the ultimate Christmas event in Banff and kids activity station for tots. From holiday arts and crafts to gingerbread house decorating, there is no shortage of Christmas fun at this festive Fairmont event.

*Activity available to hotel guests only. 

What: The North Pole activity centre

When: Daily through December, book a Christmas at the Castle activity time

Where: Fairmont Banff Springs

See the FULL “Christmas at the Castle” events schedule for Fairmont Banff Springs

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Take little ones for daily Christmas crafts and activities at the “North Pole” in the Fairmont Banff Springs. | Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Banff Springs

Sip a Christmas cocktail at the “Thirsty Reindeer”

This Christmas, the Fairmont Banff Springs Ramsay Bar will transform into an over-the-top Christmas cliche – the “Thirsty Reindeer” bar. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, and a whole lot of Christmas kitsch, this Christmas-themed bar will boast extravagant holiday décor and serve festive-inspired cocktails from 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm on Dec. 10 and 11, and daily from Dec.17, 2021, to Jan. 2, 2022.

*Non-registered hotel guests can experience the “Thirsty Reindeer” on Dec. 10 & 11. The hotel will be accessible to registered hotel guests only (and to guests with existing spa or dining reservations) as of December 17.

What: The “Thirsty Reindeer” bar

When: 4:00pm-11:00pm Dec.10 & 11, daily from Dec. 17-Jan. 2

Where: Ramsay Bar, located in the Gatehouse Foyer, next to Castello Italiana, in the Fairmont Banff Springs

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Sip a Christmas-y cocktail at Fairmont Banff Springs “Thirsty Reindeer” bar, open for a limited time this December.

Cruise a Christmas-y run

Elves, angels – you can find them all on the slopes of the “Big3”. Can you find these Christmas-y runs? At Banff Sunshine, take the Jackrabbit Quad to carve down Christmas Tree (blue) then lap back to the Angel Express Quad to drop into Angel Gully (green). At Lake Louise Ski Resort, it’s anything but child’s play in Kiddie’s Corner (black), in the back bowl. At Mt. Norquay, take Spirit Chair to see if you can find some little footprints on Elves Alley (green). Check out the trail maps. Can you find a Christmas-y run we missed?

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Think elves live on Elves Alley at Mt. Norquay? There’s only one way to find out… | Photo at Mt. Norquay

Shred with Santa

Did you know that Santa shreds? Like really shreds? Don’t let the belly of butter cookies fool you, Santa loves to carve some hard turns on Christmas Day. Find him spending Christmas in Banff and Lake Louise and slashing pow at his favourite Canadian ski resorts – Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay on Dec. 25. 

What: Ski and ride with Santa

Where: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay

When: Dec. 25

skibig3-blog-Christmas-in-Banff-ski-with-santa-lake-louise-ski-resort
Ski and snowboard with Santa at all three of the “Big3” resorts on Dec. 25. All ages welcome! | Photo at Lake Louise Ski Resort

Come spend Christmas in Banff and Lake Louise! Our destination is truly a winter wonderland, full of Christmas cheer.  Whether it’s a week or a few days, should you need a bit more flexibility with your travel plans this winter our no-questions-asked cancellation policy allows for free changes and cancellations until 3-days prior to arrival. To book your winter ski vacation, call 1-844-754-2443 to speak with a reservation specialist or go online to access some exceptional Ski & Stay Package deals.

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