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A Festive Weekend in Banff and Lake Louise

Published Date
Nov 25, 2023
Christmas, Banff Avenue, Banff National Park

A land of mountains and high elevations, in Banff National Park winter always comes early. Maybe it’s the chill in the air or the softly falling snowflakes, but the whole region takes the cold-weather cue to get an early start on the holidays, too!

If you’ve set your sights on Banff and Lake Louise this December, we’ve got more events than light bulbs on the tree to ignite your Christmas spirit. The options below let you mix and match your way through a weekend getaway that is great for the whole family.

Friday - Trails and Hot Chocolate

Check into your cozy Banff hotel for the weekend. There's everything from cozy cabins to historic castles, places with outdoor hot tubs (and one that looks like the historic Cave & Basin) and unique designs for you to choose from.

Afterwards, it's time to go on two trail-focused adventures. Follow Banff's hot chocolate trail to pick up a tasty treat, pick up your Christmas gifts on Banff Ave, and then head to In Search of Christmas Spirit.

Hot Chocolate Trail

Treat yourself and your family to a delightful journey through the town by indulging in a variety of hot chocolates! Join the enchanting Banff and Lake Louise’s Hot Chocolate Trail, where over 20 restaurants and cafes await with unique, limited-time festive-themed hot chocolate creations. It's a tasty adventure that'll warm your hearts and fill your souls with holiday cheer!

While you're out tasting hot chocolates, pop into a few of Banff's locally-owned shops to finish your Christmas shopping.

In Search of Christmas Spirit

Once the sun sets and the stars rise, bundle up in your winter woollies and let your eyes and ears be immersed in the illuminated trail, In Search of Christmas Spirit. Book your free tickets and check in at Banff Avenue Square before heading to the Cascade of Time Gardens to join a quest for Christmas spirit led by the animals of Banff National Park.

Saturday - Visit Santa on a Mountaintop then go for a Magical Sleigh Ride

Mountaintop ChristmasBanff Gondola

Possibly the most elevated Christmas celebration in Canada, ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain for some holiday fun, including ornament decorating, a letter-writing station, and photos with Santa. Kids under 12 ride free with each purchase of an adult ticket before noon.

Sleigh Ride along Lake Louise

Now it's time to head to iconic Lake Louise for a magical ride. Glide along the pristine snow-covered paths beside iconic Lake Louise in a horse-drawn sleigh. As the horses tread softly upon the powdered trails, the crisp air carries the melody of jingling bells as the journey unfolds against the backdrop of towering snow-cloaked peaks.

Banff Gondola, Mountaintop Christmas, Winter, Banff National ParkBanff Gondola, Mountaintop Christmas, Winter, Banff National ParkBanff Gondola, Mountaintop Christmas, Winter, Banff National Park

Sunday - Embrace Winter Adventure

With the dip in temperatures and a dusting of snow, Banff National Park is transformed into a winter playground for everyone.

There are a variety of operators in Banff and Lake Louise that offer incredible winter tours, including ice walkssnowshoe tours and more.

Families that love to ski will appreciate the variety of terrain available across the three ski resorts in Banff National Park. From sprawling “magic carpet” areas to unforgettable black diamond chutes, every member of the family will enjoy making their turns in the Canadian Rockies.

This will also be your chance to try a quintessentially Canadian activity - dogsledding! Climb into a cozy sled, hold on and witness the power of your team. The kids will love the chance to get to know your dogs before and after the ride.

Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.