Every winter, Banff National Park comes alive with exciting events and engaging activities all season long. With three world-class ski resorts and two vibrant towns, you’re sure to get in on the magic no matter when you make your Canadian Rockies ski vacation.
From extra-early ski season stoke to spring laps in the sun (pushing up on summer), and everything in between, there’s a treat for every time of year here at SkiBig3.
Here’s your month-by-month guide to the best events, activities, and highlights of winter in Banff National Park.
INSIDER TIP: Be sure to check out our lift ticket pass perks throughout the season. SkiBig3 lift ticket holders will receive exclusvie deals on many of the mentioned activities below.
- Shoulder season with room to roam
- Local community vibe in town
- Winter inspiration for the season
- Head out on a larch hike
- Bike the Legacy Trail to Canmore
- Hop on the Banff Gondola
Rockies Shred Fest
October 17th, 2019
This event is a local favourite for reuniting with the winter crew and marks the time of year where it’s *officially* okay to start talking about skiing again (although, let’s be honest, any time is a good time). Featuring homegrown movie edits from the backyards of Bow Valley locals, Rockies Shred Fest winning films are determined by both attendees and a local judge panel. Between the GoPro shots, pints, and relief that winter is finally on it’s way, you’re sure to have a good time here.
October 1 – 6th, 2019
Join the seventh annual Banff Pride Party at Wild Bill’s! This year, Misty Meadows, Visa De’Klein, Perla Coddington, and Abeiya Miraj will be performing the best drag show in Banff. Come as you are and celebrate Banff Pride Week 2019 with drag and dancing!
Banff Mountain Film + Book Festival
October 26th – November 3rd, 2019
It may not be officially ski season yet when Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival kicks off their world tour from the heart of the Canadian Rockies. But it’s chockfull of flicks, books, events, and community comraderie to amp up your excitement for all things winter – from the local’s favourite Snow Show screeening, to a Hans Gmoser film presentation at the Whyte Museum, to the weekend Mountain Marketplace event.
- First season cordurouy laps
- Head start on Christmas shopping
- Pre-holiday relaxation
- Take an early season ski or snowboard lesson
- Visit Lake Louise before it freezes
- Discover local history at the Whyte Museum
Santa Claus Parade of Lights
November 15th, 2019
Just like the SkiBig3 ski season, Christmas season starts extra early here and comes in with a bang at the Santa Claus Parade of Lights on November 15th. Watch a procession of brightly illuminated and decorated floats and performers weave their way down Banff Avenue. Even Santa himself will be there to greet the crowds. After the parade, follow the performers to Cascade Gardens for the Carols by Candlelight concert.
Banff Craft Beer Festival
November 21st – 23rd, 2019
It’s borderline blasphemous to go skiing without an après pint afterward, and the Banff Craft Beer Festival is the perfect opportunity to broaden your palette of lagers, ales, malts, and all the in-betweens after an epic day on the mountain.
Make it a weekend with this three-day event by hitting up all three SkiBig3 resorts beforehand. Banff Craft Beer Festival features nearly 50 breweries, which makes finding your favourite flavour as easy as gliding down your first warm up run. It’s the only craft beer festival featuring exclusively Alberta craft brewers, among a spectacular mountain setting in Canada’s first national park.
Can’t make it that weekend? Here are some other great places to check out local brews in the Bow Valley.
Banff Christmas Market
November 15th – 17th, 2019
November 22nd – 24th, 2019
Another great event running that very same weekend (and the weekend prior!) is the Banff Christmas Market. It’s the perfect one-stop-shop to get all the bells, whistles, and gifts for the holiday season.
Featuring Alberta (and beyond) -based vendors, you can feel good about supporting local businesses and artisans, and come home with a unique souvenir from your visit to the Canadian Rockies. Sleigh rides, steaming mugs of hot cocoa, story and crafts time, and a visit with Santa will sweeten the deal to bring the kids along, too!
Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup
Men’s Event: November 30th – December 1st, 2019
Women’s Event: December 6th – 8th, 2019
Following hot on the heels of Banff Craft Beer Festival and Banff Christmas Market, the Alpine Ski at the Lake Louise Ski Resort begins November 30th with the men’s downhill. Spanning two weekends for men’s and women’s events until December 8th, the Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup hosts a ton of other activities for families, skiers and riders. Fire pits, hot chocolate, and free lessons and lift tickets for kids! A Mini Food & Drink Market will run on Ladies weekend, offering a variety of tents and treats.
Looking to get up-close to the action? Consider the VIP Fan Experience.
- A mountain twist on holiday traditions
- A classic white Christmas experience
- Indulging in Canadian comfort food
Christmas at the Castle
Discover a castle in the mountains magically transformed into the wonderful world of Christmas, this December at Fairmont Banff Springs. A walk through this 130 year old castle transports you back in time, to when the CP Rail made their way west and brought tourism to the national park for the first time. With Christmas at the Castle, you’ll see ball rooms with Christmas trees reaching multiple storeys, stairways and windowframes with all the trimmings, and events to delight all ages throughout the month – like snowflake scavenger hunts, castle heritage tours, and special dinners in Santa’s suite.
Spirit in the Mountain
December 20, 21, 22, & 23, 2019
From the heart of Grotto Mountain, four local musician groups will bring together the hoilday season with music and a sense of adventure with Spirit in the Mountain. Taking place over four nights, Elk Run & Riot, Seth Anderson, The Silkstones, and Trundled will make use of nature’s acoustics for performances you’ll never forget. The Rat’s Nest Cave transforms into a concert venue to showcase their talents in this one-of-a-kind musical experience.
Ski with Santa at the SkiBig3 Resorts
This December, Santa trades in his sleigh for skis as he celebrates Christmas at the SkiBig3 resorts. Find him dashing through the ski slope snow from the peaks of the mountain tops all the way down to the ski base lodges. Snap your Christmas selfie with Santa, with the Canadian Rockies as your backdrop for a holiday memento to cherish for years to come. And keep your eye out for him as he hands out Christmas treats for all to enjoy.
- Endless winter festival fun
- A taste of Rockies-inspired cocktails
- More mountain terrain to explore
- Ice skate on a mountain lake
- Night tube at Mt. Norquay
- Snowshoe the Sunshine Village and Lake Louise backcountry
Ice Magic Festival
January 15 – 26, 2020
A favourite for visitors and locals alike, the Ice Magic Festival takes place just footsteps away from the flanks of Lake Louise. Over the span of eleven days, world-class ice carvers will come together to compete in their craft as they sculpt crude blocks of ice into beautiful works of art right before your eyes. The aesthetic of the sculpture-lined promenades balance beautifully with Lake Louise’s unique vistas, and they’re just a short 10-minute drive or shuttle from Lake Louise Ski Resort.
January 15 – 26, 2020
Come see winter artistry in action during SnowDays, the festival of snow in Banff National Park. The annual SnowDays celebration is a highlight of the winter season in Banff National Park; a free 12-day long event held during January, centred around massive snow sculptures in downtown Banff. Occurring at the same time as the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise, you’ll have plenty of winter creations to explore throughout the park.
Tribute to Craft Spirits
January 15 – 26, 2020
Back for its second year, Tribute To Craft Spirits Festival brings together the best craft distilleries from Alberta and British Columbia. It showcases the vibrant local food and bev scene in Banff and Lake Louise over 12 days of exclusive cocktail menus in local bars and restaurants. On January 25th and 26th, meet the makers and taste the Rockies as the festival culminates in a two-day outdoor event on Bear Street with a wide range of food and drink stations.
- Romantic Rockies getaways
- Family-friendly skiing
- Relaxing spas and hot pools
- Soak at the Banff Upper Hot Springs
- Stargaze (or aurora gaze) the night away
- Get pampered with a spa treatment
Unforgettable Romantic Memories
Day and night will compete for your love here, with so much to do around the clock. Ski by moonlight, take a ‘rest day’ with an afternoon at the spa, or simply take the scenic route to your next day on the slopes. This is a place where the pampering comes naturally, and the only thing melting is your stress level. Here are 11 Memorable Romantic Experiences you won’t want to miss in Banff & Lake Louise.
Lifts of Love
The Rockies version of speed dating, Mt. Norquay’s ‘Lifts of Love’ night will bring your game to the next level (literally) from atop the High Speed Quad chair lift. Bump boards with your potential future Mrs. or Mr. as you mingle on the chair, then bring it to the dance floor at the Apres Ski Mixer in the Lone Pine afterwards. Event tickets cover your lift admission, and there’s free transportation back to Banff for guests.
- Deep and dry Rockies powder
- The start to sunny spring skiing
- Using up your Ikon Pass or Mountain Collective days
- Treat your ski legs to yoga
- Discover off piste guided skiing
- Warm up with a dance class
With longer days comes deeper snow. March is that sweet spot of the year when things start to get reaaal good. You won’t be able to wipe the smile (or pow!) off your face. Springs breaks and reading weeks often conveniently fall around this time of year – the perfect time to book you Canadian Rockies ski vacation!
- Epic end-of-season parties
- Extending your ski season
- Apres patio season
- Check out a Crossfit class
- Take a brewery or distillery tour
- ‘Eat the Castle’ with Fairmont Banff Springs
Apres Ski Patios
Ski resort patios are as busy as the slopes themselves around this time of year, and with good reason. Sunshine, goggle tans, and fire pits make it hard to decide where to spend your time. But as the days get longer, these are often the months when extended lift hours come into effect for some extra wiggle room. Kokanee Kabin at Lake Louise Ski Resort, Cascade Lodge at Mt. Norquay, and Mad Trapper’s Saloon at Banff Sunshine are just a handful of options to kick back your snowboard boots.
Ever wanted to see a ski lodge turn into a mini-EDM festival? Want to fulfill your life dream of pond-skimming in a banana costume? Lucky for you, the SkiBig3 resorts are no strangers to throwing epic parties.
Shake the Lake occurs around the end of April at Lake Louise Ski Resort, and the 92nd Annual Slush Cup at Banff Sunshine is set for May 18th. Details have yet to be confirmed, but you can bet your snowboard boots it’s gonna be a good one!
Contact our reservations team today and we’ll help you build a customized vacation to suit your style and budget. They’re happy to help with their local knowledge of all three resorts, and the ins and outs of Banff National Park.