When we say Banff and Lake Louise is a winter wonderland – we really mean it. In January, our destination comes alive with one of the most spectacular winter festivals in Canada – SnowDays. Dazzling ice carvings, spectacular snow sculptures, cowboys and cowgirls on skis being pulled by horses..yup, SnowDays in Banff and Lake Louise has got it all. If you’ve got a trip booked to visit Banff and Lake Louise this winter, or you’re looking for an unforgettable winter weekend getaway, here’s how to do SnowDays in 3 perfect days.
Download the full SnowDays Itinerary here, and check off your activities as you go!
SnowDays in Banff and Lake Louise: The Perfect Itinerary
Day 1: Sunshine and Snow Sculptures
Wake up in Banff and Lake Louise at your favourite accommodation and breath a sigh of “Ahhhhhh I’m on vacation”. You’ve arrived at the most magical winter destination in Canada and it’s time to start exploring. Today’s plan? Hit the slopes at Banff Sunshine all day and then take in the illuminated Snow Sculptures in the town of Banff at night.
But first, coffee! Grab a made-to-order sandwich on freshly-baked sourdough and piping hot espresso at Uprising Bake Shop + Espresso Bar then run to catch the SkiBig3 ski shuttle up to Banff Sunshine. After laps of Snowflake all morning off of the Strawberry Express Quad (to get you in the SnowDays mood), ski into the Chimney Corner for a hearty snack of Continental Divide Nachos (and yes, add the Bison chilli). Then, spend the afternoon sailing down South Divide, soaking up views of Mount Assiniboine the whole way down.
Once you arrive back in Banff (thank you, complimentary ski shuttle), it’s time to swap out those ski boots for snow boots and go for a walk – a Snow Sculpture scavenger hunt! They won’t be hard to miss – each beautifully carved Snow Sculpture will be illuminated with technicolour lights and located at main points of interest, throughout Banff. Our recommendation? Head straight to Bear Street where the majority of Snow Sculptures will be on display. Take pictures of your favourite, these works of art won’t be around forever. If you’ve got little ones in tow, make sure you get them to the SnowDays PlayZone to practice their penguin skills. End your night with an Avalanche Beaver Tail (topped with cheesecake Skor bits) because snow has zero calories – right?
Day 2: Carving and Cowboys
Wake up to another beautiful day in Banff and Lake Louise. What’s the best part about this destination? How close you are to the hill! Mt. Norquay is only a 15-minute drive away. Grab a locally-crafted latte and signature breakfast frittata sandwich at Wild Flour Bakery and zip up to Mt. Norquay for a morning of skiing on its historic (and whole-lotta-fun) slopes. Our advice? Head straight to Spirit Chair for some playful trees and powder pockets or dare to drop down one of the most incredible fall lines in Canada, under the North American Chair, on Lone Pine.
Legs burning? Good. When you’re ready to head back into town, make sure you get back in time for a special event you don’t want to miss – Skijoring. With two showings (11:00 am and 3:00 pm) on January 22, 2022, during SnowDays in Banff and Lake Louise make sure you get to the Banff Train Station early to steal a spot in the front row for the one-hour Skijoring show. Skijoring is a breath-taking exhibition of horse-riding, trick-riding, and ski stunts. You won’t believe what these cowboys and cowgirls can do on skis!
After you’ve picked your jaw up off the ground, walk down Banff Ave. to finish the day with an apres at the Banff Ave. Brewing Co. Ask for a pint of the Norquay ‘96 and cheers to a solid day on the slopes. If you’re still thirsty, check out the delicious cocktail creations at the TRIBUTE Craft Spirits Celebration, on Bear Street. An event celebrating the best craft distilleries in Canada and Alberta.
**Note: Both the skijoring event and the 2-day outdoor tasting event for the TRIBUTE Craft Spirits Festival have both been postponed until further notice. More updates from Banff Lake Louise Tourism in February.**
Day 3: Ice Magic in Lake Louise
For your final perfect day of SnowDays in Banff and Lake Louise, hop on the SkiBig3 ski shuttle and head straight to Lake Louise Ski Resort. Nothing will get you in the Ice Magic mood more than skiing down slopes with sprawling views of one of the most famous frozen lakes in the world, Lake Louise, and the glorious Victoria Glacier.
After a few more snowy laps of Powder Pockets, off Paradise Chair, slide into the Lodge of Ten Peaks for a heart-warming bowl of Ramen at Kuma Yama. Fueled up, you’re ready to tackle more knee-deep snow in Lake Louise Ski Resort’s phenomenal freeride zone, West Bowl. Then, as sunset starts to paint the peaks of the mountains, it’s time to hop on the Lake Louise shuttle to the Chateau Lake Louise for an ice spectacle you can’t miss.
There, the final pieces of frozen art from the Ice Magic Ice Carving Competition will decorate the shores of Lake Louise. In the glow of lights, these unbelievably detailed ice creations are a slice of mountain magic that only sparkle for a few short weeks each year, until they melt back into the glacial waters of the lake. Happy, dazzled, hungry – spend your last night in Banff and Lake Louise sharing a sparkling glass of champagne and alpine-inspired cheese fondue at the Walliser Stube. After all, you only visit the mountains once! (Well, until next year, that is.)
**We regret to inform you that despite Banff Lake Louise Tourism’s best efforts, challenges related to COVID-19 have resulted in the cancellation of Ice Magic for January 2022.**
Come join us for SnowDays in Banff and Lake Louise, this January! Make it a week or make it a quick weekend. 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.