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Sleigh Ride, Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Célestine Aerden
The Real Banff / Published: Wed, 11/04/2020 - 14:04

7 Christmas Traditions To Discover in Banff and Lake Louise

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Things look a little different in Banff and Lake Louise this Christmas. Many adjustments have been made due to COVID-19 to keep people safe. Please refer to our Travel Information page for more information.


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. Take a Time out and Hit the Slopes

The slopes are often a little quieter on Christmas Day, providing the perfect opportunity to take a few turns, burn some extra calories in anticipation of a big dinner, and keep the little ones active. Spend the afternoon or morning with your nearest and dearest hitting the world-class slopes at one of the three mountain resorts in Banff National Park. 

2. Slide Along on a Horse-Drawn Sleigh

Keep warm under a blanket for a peaceful ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, an experience the whole family can enjoy. 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. Plan ahead, check the weather and dress warmly with a hat, scarf, and mitts. 

3. Go for a Fresh Air Picnic

Traditionally Christmas is a day gathered around the tree indoors, indulging in all the good food life has to offer - but why not adopt a refreshing tradition of time spent outdoors? Take your tradition up a notch and take food with you for an outdoor picnic - don't forget the hot chocolate! Try hiking Tunnel Mountain, snowshoeing around Lake Louise or, for a much longer day, ski touring to Boom or Rockbound Lake. Stock up on supplies in Banff at Nesters Market or IGA, or in Lake Louise at the Village Market.

Family Ski, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff National Park
Devaan Ingraham

4. 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.

5. Eat out, you're on Holidays

One of the best things about Banff and Lake Louise is the mouth-watering food options. They're still available this season, and still offering some of your favourite Christmas dishes, but just a little different. During the holidays, most restaurants are offering delivery, take-away, or curbside pick-up. Our favourites for Christmastime include Park Distillery, for a campfire-inspired menu that will warm you from the inside out, Chuck's Steakhouse with their tummy-filling multi-course Christmas dinner you can enjoy at home, and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel for their Christmas Dinner To-Go. Otherwise if you wanted something different this Christmas, with some delicious wines to accompany your dinner, you can't go past the Block Kitchken and Bar

Check our Where To Eat page for more ideas and be sure to call ahead! 

Winter, Lake Louise, Family, Banff National Park
Devaan Ingraham
Lake Louise

6. 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. 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!

7. Wander the Trails of Banff National Park

Spend your day trekking through the snow-covered hiking and walking trails of Banff National Park. Whether your mode of transportation is skis, snowshoes or winter boots, there is a trail in Banff and Lake Louise for you. 

If you're a local from the Bow Valley, when the sun goes down, immerse yourself in the festive live story In Search of Christmas Spirit. Meet Owl, a stunning lantern puppet with a twelve-foot wingspan your guide on this outdoor, night-time experience. 

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