What to do in Banff & Lake Louise this winter: Ultimate Event Guide

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What to do in Banff & Lake Louise this winter: Ultimate Event Guide

Events at SkiBig3 resorts and in the towns of Banff and Lake Louise are back and better than ever this season. If you’re wondering what to do in Banff this winter, you need to bookmark this guide to must-attend events in Banff National Park.

In the next month alone, events like Snow Days and Mt. Norquay’s Stay & Apres series are planned to keep you busy after the slopes. Then, in the spring, high-energy events like Lake Louise Ski Resort’s Big Mountain Challenge and Banff Sunshine’s famous Slush Cup return to the calendar, making perfect events to plan around spring skiing in Banff. 

Here’s what to do in Banff & Lake Louise this winter

In Search of Christmas Spirit

Nov. 23-Dec. 31 (Wednesday-Sunday evenings) 

At Christmas time, the Cascade of Time Garden transforms into an enchanted evening walking path. During your magical evening walk, Christmas stories will be told by the animals of Banff National Park. With an engaging story and captivating sound effects, you’ll find your Christmas spirit here. This is a free event, but tickets must be booked online in advance. Make sure to dress appropriately as it’s an outdoor-only event. Also, note that the trail may be icy or uneven and is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs. Learn more and book your tickets for In Search of Christmas Spirit on the Banff Lake Louise Tourism website.

In Search of Christmas Spirit is a free, outdoor, family-friendly event taking place until December 31. | Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Ski with Santa and torchlight parades

Various dates

All SkiBig3 mountain resorts (Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt. Norquay) are preparing fun Christmas events for skiers and snowboarders. Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise Ski Resort host Santa as he makes his way around the world. See Santa ski Lake Louise Ski Resort’s slopes on Dec. 24 and 25; also spot him at Banff Sunshine over the holidays. 

Banff Sunshine hosts evening torchlight parades on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, while Mt. Norquay hosts a torchlight parade on New Year’s Eve. Watch trained torchbearers make their way down the slopes, illuminating the ski resorts in a beautiful choreographed red glow.  

The best place to watch the Banff Sunshine New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade is the Sunshine Mountain Lodge.

Demo Days at Lake Louise Ski Resort

Dec. 11, 2022, Feb. 17, and Mar. 18, 2023

Try out the latest and greatest skis and snowboards from your favourite brands… for free at Demo Days at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Visit a tent in the base area with a valid lift ticket or pass (along with an ID and credit card) and choose the gear (first come, first served) you’d like to try for a few laps. A rep will set up the gear to fit your own boots. 

Lake Louise Ski Resort will be hosting Demo Days on Dec. 11, 2022, Feb. 17, and March 18, 2023.

Banff and Lake Louise Hot Chocolate Trail

Nov. 19, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023

Beat the winter chill by sipping warm hot chocolate. During the Banff Christmas holiday season, you can follow the Banff and Lake Louise Hot Chocolate Trail to taste unique and creative hot chocolate recipes around town. Some hot chocolates are family-friendly, while others are for adults only. From Kahlua and coconut rum to creamy white chocolate infused with raspberry syrup, participating local cafes and restaurants will surprise you with their tasty and original hot chocolate recipes.

Did you know that 19 cafes and restaurants are participating in this year’s Banff and Lake Louise Hot Chocolate Trail? | Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Christmas at the Castle

Nov. 25, 2022 – Jan. 5, 2023

The Fairmont Banff Springs is an icon of Banff National Park and the ultimate magical castle during the holiday season. Take a historic tour of this majestic hotel and participate in daily Christmas activities such as a snowflake scavenger hunt, an outdoor candy cane search, Christmas craft/ornament painting and more. 

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise also curates a magical Christmas holiday program filled with fun activities for the entire family, from gingerbread house decorating to horse-drawn sleigh rides (Note: Most events are open to hotel guests only).  

At Christmas time, the Fairmont Banff Springs turns into a Christmas-y wonderland – almost as good as the North Pole! | Photo by Fairmont Banff Springs

Nightrise at the Banff Gondola

Dec. 2, 2022 – Apr. 9, 2023

At Nightrise, Sulphur Mountain’s summit is transformed after dark through four digital art installations inspired by the area’s First Nations history. Vibrant lighting, multimedia effects, video projections and music bring the mountaintop to life in new and unexpected ways. The installation was created by visionary Montreal-based multimedia studio Moment Factory in partnership with the Stoney Nakoda Nation. 

If you’re looking for an alternative apres, try visiting the top of the Banff Gondola and its Nightrise light show. | Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Snow Days in Banff 

Jan. 18 – 29, 2023

Every January, Banff and Lake Louise come alive with the annual Snow Days winter festival. The streets of downtown Banff transform into larger-than-life winter galleries with giant snow sculptures. The thrill of Skijoring can be felt by excited onlookers lining the streets of Banff Avenue and the sounds of laughter and joy can be heard echoing from the SnowDays Play Zone. Indulge your sense of adventure on your SnowDays holiday with three world-class ski resorts,  cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails, and the iconic Lake Louise ice rink. 

Continue your SnowDays adventure with an unforgettable dog-sled or horse-drawn sleigh ride through a snow-covered valley or feel the exhilaration as you whizz down the slopes at the Mt. Norquay or Lake Louise Ski Resort tube parks.  

Snow Days is an incredible winter festival, taking place Jan 18-29, 2023. Don’t miss the main event, Skijouring, on Jan 28! | Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Mt. Norquay’s Stay & Apres Series

Jan. 6, 20; Feb. 24, 25; Mar. 4, 10 

End your day on the mountain the right way by going straight from the chair to cheers with the new Stay & Après Tasting Sessions, which take place from 4 to 5 p.m. at Lone Pine Restaurant at Mt. Norquay on six days this season. This informative and delicious series of après ski tasting experiences is free with a valid lift ticket or season pass. Kick your boots up, relax, sip on amazing drinks, and learn from an expert from Black Stallion wines (Jan. 6 and March 4), Park Distillery (Jan. 20 and Feb. 24), Hendo (Feb. 25) and Banff Ave. Brew Co. (March 10). There are only 20 spots available for each session, which is open to adults aged 18 and over. Sign up now or day of in the Cascade Lodge.  

Mt. Norquay’s new Stay & Après Tasting Sessions take place from 4 to 5 p.m. at Lone Pine on six days this season. | Photo by Mt. Norquay

Norquay’s Lifts of Love

Feb. 11, 2023

High-speed quad dating returns to Mt. Norquay this February. Mt. Norquay’s Lifts of Love is a fresh take on speed dating, promising you’ll meet somebody new on every chair. The $45 entry fee includes a lift pass, as well as an Apres Ski Mixer, including food and drink specials and a live DJ in The Lone Pine beginning at 9 p.m.  

Polish up those ski boots…Mt. Norquay’s popular “Lifts of Love” returns on February 11, 2023.

Junior Big Mountain Challenge

Mar. 2-5, 2023

During the Lake Louise Ski Resort Junior Big Mountain Challenge for kids ages 7-18, freeriders compete in Big 7 over the course of two days and are judged on line, control, fluidity, technique and style. This tour is part of the North American Freeride Junior Tour, sanctioned by the International Freeskier & Snowboarder Association.  

Big Mountain Challenge

Mar. 10, 2023

The Lake Louise Big Mountain Challenge returns for its 19th year on March 10. This big mountain freeride competition is non-sanctioned, meaning it’s laid-back and all about fun. There are ski and snowboard categories for both men and women who are age 18+, including a brand new Masters Category (age 40+). Prizes will be awarded for podium finishers.

Attention all freeriders! Lake Louise Ski Resort will host a Junior Big Mountain Challenge and Big Mountain Challenge in March 2023. | Photo by Shannon Martin  

Holy Bowly

Apr. 24-30

Hosted across North America, Holy Bowly embodies all that is well with snowboarding and delivers some awesome footage. The event returns to Banff Sunshine with park builds as you’ve never seen before. It’s wild, it’s fun, and it’s open to the public April 24-30. Come watch the event or send it yourself (registration required).

If you like freestyle snowboarding, Holy Bowly is an event you can’t miss this April, at Banff Sunshine. Watch it or ride the world-class park yourself, after the event.

Slush Cup

May 22, 2023

Banff Sunshine plays host to its three-day #slushtival each May, promising true spring skiing and snowboarding, music, dancing and entertainment. The Slush Cup is a neon, nutty, nail-biting pond skimming event, now in its 95th (ish) year. Traditionally celebrated on the last day of the Banff Sunshine winter season (North America’s longest non-glacial ski season), Slush Cup returns on May 22, 2023. Laugh as the brave attempt to travel across an ice-cold pond on skis or a snowboard while wearing crazy costumes. Also, check out the Slushshine Rail Jam on May 20th and the Water Gate Banked Slalom on May 21st.  

Banff Sunshine’s epic Slush Cup returns for its 95th (ish) year on May 22, 2023.

Plan ahead and save

Plan ahead and save big on a Canadian ski vacation. Book a Ski & Stay package and save on lodging and lift tickets. Right now, SkiBig3 offers a No Questions Asked cancellation policy allowing for free itinerary changes and full cancellation refund on ski & stay packages up to 14 days from travel.