If ever there was a time to discover and create new traditions it’s around Christmas when the spirit of the holidays inspires you to focus on what’s really important. Perhaps it’s quality time with loved ones or disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whatever the holiday season means to you, adopting new Christmas traditions in Banff and Lake Louise is an enriching way to create lasting memories, and ones you can look forward to year after year.
Here are some of our favourites:
1. Celebrate Early with the Santa Claus Parade
On November 16, Santa comes to town! The Santa Claus Parade of Lights is a wonderful experience for the whole family, as light-filled floats go by, elves toss out candy canes to eager children, and carolers sing Christmas songs. Following the parade, head to Cascade Gardens for the Carols by Candlelight concert.
2. Slide Along on a Horse-Drawn Sleigh
Something the whole family can enjoy, keep warm under a blanket for a peaceful ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Available in both Banff and Lake Louise, a sleigh ride slows down the pace as you take in the scenery, breathe in the crisp air, and spend time with your loved ones. Be sure to check the weather and dress warmly with a hat, scarf, and mitts.
3. Go for a Fresh Air Picnic
Traditionally a day gathered around the tree indoors, indulging in all the good food life has to offer, a nice tradition to adopt is time spent in the fresh air. Take your tradition up a notch and take food with you for an outdoor picnic, complete with sandwiches, jerky and a hot beverage. Some of our favourite spots include a hike up Tunnel Mountain, snowshoe to Sundance Canyon or, for a much longer day, ski tour to Boom or Rockbound Lake. Stock up on supplies in Banff at Nesters Market or IGA, or in Lake Louise at Village Market.
4. Strap Your Skis on for Church
If a church service or mass is part of your Christmas repertoire, Banff Sunshine Village hosts Skiers’ Church every Sunday. Partake in a mountain top service then enjoy some skiing or snowboarding afterwards. When your muscles have had enough, pull out some festive food or enjoy one of the ski area’s restaurants to extend your holiday celebrations off the slopes.
5. Get Cozy at a cabin
If you’re into backcountry touring, the Alpine Club of Canada maintains a large network of alpine huts that can be booked throughout the Christmas season. Once you’re at the hut, you can warm up by a wood stove and enjoy an intimate holiday gathering with friends and family, surrounded by nothing but wilderness. Looking for a more catered getaway? Check out one of the backcountry lodges in Banff National Park, accessible by snowshoe or ski, where warm duvets and gourmet meals await your arrival.
6. Walk Your Way to a Meal
One of the best things about Banff town is that you can walk everywhere, including to your next meal or treat. Make a destination of your favourite snack or lunch spot, bundle up to walk there, and the food will taste that much better. Our favourites for Christmastime include Stock Food and Drink at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (always well-decorated for the holidays!), The Bison Restaurant & Terrace for a weekend brunch, or Park Distillery, for a campfire-inspired menu that’ll warm you from the inside out. Check our Where To Eat page for more ideas!
7. Skate When the Sun Goes Down
A few rinks in Banff and Lake Louise are lit at night, making for the most magical skating experience imaginable. With Christmas lights twinkling (not to mention stars sparkling above!), you’ll instantly fall in love with this new tradition. Warm-up by the open fires when your toes start to tingle. When you’re ready to unlace your skates, head in for a well-deserved hot chocolate or a coffee with liqueur. And don’t forget the whipped cream!