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Have the Ultimate Canadian Mountain Christmas in Banff and Lake Louise

Published Date
Dec 6, 2023|
Events & Festivals, Active Travel, Family Travel
Three kids play with Santa Claus in the Santa suite at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff National Park.

Wish lists and checklists, decorations and celebrations. Amidst the whirl of preparing for the perfect Christmas, the true meaning of the season can be lost. Time with loved ones is precious, and this makes the value of mindful presence ever more important throughout the holiday season. Experiencing a Canadian Mountain Christmas in Banff and Lake Louise is the perfect way to take a step back and take in the moment.

From the heart of Canada’s first national park, you’ll find two vibrant mountain communities that come alive with Canadian Christmas spirit. Every year by mid-November, the town of Banff transforms into a scene from a Christmas snow globe. Decorations adorn the streets, twinkling coloured lights compete with the starlight, and a fresh blanket of snow on the surrounding peaks ensures a truly white Christmas feel. The mountains here are brimming with authentic and festive winter experiences, inviting you to slow down and smell the snowflakes.

Here are four ways to have your very own Canadian Mountain Christmas in Banff National Park.

Feel the Mountains Come Alive with Christmas Activities

There are plenty of ways to balance calm moments of connection with those of celebration and good ‘ole fashioned Christmas cheer. From mid-November to well after New Year’s Day, Banff National Park offers many ways to celebrate the spirit of the season.

In Search of Christmas Spirit

November 17 - December 31, 2023

Discover the wonder of Christmas in Banff National Park this holiday season. Bundle up for a walk through the Cascade of Time Garden, where you’ll witness a live Christmas story told by the animals of Banff National Park. Starting from Banff Avenue, In Search of Christmas Spirit is an outdoor lighting experience available on select nights of the holiday season. Larger-than-life dazzling sculptures, thousands of Christmas lights, and ingenious sound effects deliver the story.

Enjoy a Mountain Twist on Old Christmas Traditions

Christmas in the Rockies offers a break from the usual pace of the holidays, but you can still celebrate your favourite traditions in the mountains. Instead of Christmas turkey dinners around the family dining table, roast marshmallows around a crisp winter bonfire as you snuggle up to loved ones.

Instead of driving to see the neighbourhood Christmas lights, walk to Banff National Park’s frozen lakes to take in the night sky and - hopefully - the Northern Lights.

Instead of decorating the Christmas tree with all the trimmings, take a winter wander through the forest to soak in nature’s nuanced smells and sounds. You don't need to head out on your own either; bring a certified local guide who knows the area and all the best spots to really make the most of your adventure.

These mountain moments are sure to linger in your family’s memory for years to come.

Hiking Johnston Canyon, Banff National ParkHiking Johnston Canyon, Banff National ParkHiking Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

Celebrate Christmas Moments in a Mountain Cabin or Castle

Christmas in the Canadian Rockies celebrates presence over presents, and the atmosphere for creating memorable moments is key. Banff has its very own historical castle built by the CP rail in the early 1900s to do just that, Fairmont Banff Springs. It embodies traditional holiday spirit to the nth degree with Christmas at the Castle, creating a wonderfully festive environment.

Daily interactive holiday activities will enchant younger family members while parents find their own corner of the castle to read or enjoy the snow-covered mountainscapes with a cozy mug of hot cocoa.

During your stay, there are several signature dining experiences to enjoy that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else – like Christmas dinner in Santa’s suite.

For a more secluded feel, spend the night in any of Banff National Park’s cozy winter cabins to truly connect with nature. You’ll have no one but the mountains for company.

Take Christmas to the Mountain Top

Of course, it wouldn’t be a mountain Christmas without the mountains themselves. Place yourself amongst the snowy peaks by visiting any of Banff National Park’s three ski resorts, all just a short journey from the towns of Banff and Lake Louise. All resorts host festive activities, like Christmas feasts, torchlight events, and visiting Santa on the mountain.

For a non-ski experience, head to the Banff Gondola to take part in their Mountaintop Christmas. At Sulphur’s summit, there’s a world of Christmas to for kids to discover – like cookie decorating, meeting Santa Claus, and short animated Christmas films.

Ice Skate on a Frozen Lake

For an iconic adventure this Christmas, visit the postcard-perfect Lake Louise for a skating experience like no other. Find skate rentals in the village of Lake Louise at Wilson Mountain Sports, or Chateau Mountain Sports and head to the Lake Louise lakeshore to glide across a frozen lake and soak in mountain views that make for a memorable skate.

During the Christmas season, there is also an ice castle built by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which also monitors and maintains the ice rink.

Ice skating at Lake LouiseIce skating at Lake LouiseIce skating at Lake Louise

Hit the Crowd-free Slopes

Some locals love to take advantage of Christmas Day downtime at the SkiBig3 resorts.

“After brunch with the family on Christmas Day, we often will hop over to Banff Sunshine or Mt. Norquay for an afternoon of skiing as they are both so close to town. We love having lots of room to roam on the slopes, they are often much quieter on Christmas Day. It helps the kids burn off some energy and helps us burn off all our Christmas cookies!”

Kid skiing on the slopes.Kid skiing on the slopes.Kid skiing on the slopes.
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Real Banff is an inside look at the events and activities around the park, brought to you by Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. Our mission is to have a post on pretty much everything that is available for you to do in Banff, Lake Louise and beyond.