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A mother and child ice skate on Lake Louise, Banff National Park, AB
The Real Banff / Published: Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:58

How To Spend Christmas Day in Banff and Lake Louise

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There’s an excitement about Christmas Day that can hardly be contained, no matter your age. If you find yourself in the mountains for this festive holiday, you’ll see that excitement elevated thanks to the lofty summits that surround you and the holiday spirit that captivates the whole region. 

While many towns get sleepy on Christmas Day as families gather indoors, Banff and Lake Louise come more alive than ever. If you’re looking for ways to spend this special day and create new memories, here are some ideas:

Start with a Christmas Day Brunch

Many restaurants are open on Christmas Day for a festive breakfast or brunch so you can start the day off on the right foot. Some need to be reserved in advance, so check out our Guide To Brunch in Banff and Lake Louise for some inspiration.   

A family enjoys hot chocolate and brunch at a tableside window with snow falling and Christmas lights outside
Noel Hendrickson

Go for a Scenic Skate

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, and head to the Lake Louise lakeshore to glide across a frozen lake and soak in mountain views that make for a memorable skate.  

A woman poses while skating on a large frozen lake framed by mountains and a glacier behind her
Adventure Cities

Cozy Up in a Café

Nothing feels better when it’s cold outside than a hot cup of tea or a cappuccino. Many cafés in Banff and Lake Louise are open on Christmas Day, making them the perfect destination for a short stroll or a warm-up in between activities. And make sure to try one of the specialty hot chocolates some cafes are making as part of Banff’s Hot Chocolate Trail.

Three friends drinking espresso coffee at Whitebark cafe

Have a Mountaintop Celebration

We’re pretty sure you won’t find an experience like this anywhere. Ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain (10 am - 3 pm), where Christmas activities await you. Take in the soaring views as your family indulges in kid-friendly activities.

Get Your Legs Moving

Walking is a wonderful way to see the sights, get some exercise, and spend time with family and friends of all ages. Our favourite spots include Banff Avenue (where Christmas decorations abound), the Bow River trail system in Banff, the Lake Louise shoreline, and Tunnel Mountain (bring micro-spikes!). Check out our guide to winter hiking for more ideas!

A couple stops to look at the view while enjoying a winter hike on snowy trails on a bright blue day
Devaan Ingraham

Go for a Christmas Day Cross-Country Ski

With track-set trails throughout Banff and Lake Louise, you can go for as short or long a loop as you like on both peaceful wooded trails or routes with more alpine views. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate and candy canes for a special treat along the way. Check out 5 Cross Country Ski Trails in Banff National Park to get started! 

Winter Cross Country Skiing Great Divide Trail Lake Louise Noel Hendrickson

Have a Christmas Dinner to Remember

Leave the cooking and dishes to the professionals this Christmas and indulge in one of the many delicious restaurants in both Banff and Lake Louise. From traditional Swiss fondues to Canadian-style turkey dinners, you’ll leave the table with a happy heart and full belly. Check our dining guide for inspiration and be sure to reserve in advance!

A couple enjoys warm drinks next to an indoor fireplace in a lobby filled with lit Christmas trees
Noel Hendrickson

Finish the Day Outdoors

One of the best feelings after a big meal is a breath of fresh air, so hit the streets or trails once more. View the lights on Banff Avenue, book a horse-drawn sleigh ride, walk the lakeshore trail at Lake Louise, or head out for some stargazing at Vermillion Lakes. Christmas Day isn’t over until your head hits the pillow.

A couple enjoys an evening walk on a snowy trail surrounded by trees adorned with Christmas lights
Devaan Ingraham

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