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A couple walking in front of a giant snow sculpture with string lights above them in the evening
Devaan Ingraham
The Real Banff / Published: Mon, 12/20/2021 - 13:31

What to Expect in Banff and Lake Louise in January

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Let’s set the record straight. January in Banff and Lake Louise can be frosty, but it’s also so uniquely beautiful that it merits wearing an extra few layers to experience it.  

It’s the time of year when the stars shine the brightest, and there’s a good base of powder and ice for all of your favourite winter activities. 

We’ll repeat that last part -- it’s one of the best months for winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, skating, cross-country skiing, and more -- and there’s no better place to do so than the Canadian Rockies! 

Here’s what you can expect to see, do, and experience in Banff and Lake Louise in January.  

The Weather  

It’s cold. But it’s also manageable.  

If that seems intimidating, let us assure you that it’s well worth it. This is the time of year when the skies are mostly clear, making for great views of the stars and possibly a rare appearance from the Aurora Borealis. 

Banff Daytime -4°C (24.8°F)  

Banff Overnight -14°C (6.8°F)  

Lake Louise Daytime -6°C (21.2°F) 

Lake Louise Overnight -20°C (-4°F)  

A family wearing lots of cozy winter layers roasting a marshmallow at an outdoor fire pit on a snowy street
Shannon Martin

What to Pack  

Layers are a traveller’s best friend. Before you head out for the day, throw on a winter coat, toque, mitts, and a scarf.  

Wear (and pack extra) layers like long underwear, socks, sweaters, and activewear pants if you’re heading to the ski hill. As you warm up, you may want to remove layers to avoid sweating through them, which can make you colder. A pair of waterproof pants or snow pants will go a long way in keeping you warm and dry.  

Wear thicker layers if you’re doing something a little more sedentary like dog sledding or tubing since you won’t have the added benefit of exercise to keep your temperature up.  

Waterproof and slip-resistant boots are always suggested, no matter the activity. 

These items are available for purchase in Banff and Lake Louise if you don’t bring them from home. Check out our local outfitters.

What to See and Do 

We like an active holiday, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to sit back and let someone else do the work, and by someone, we mean our furry four-legged friends. Dogsledding is a spectacular way to see the mountains and try a traditional mode of transportation developed by Indigenous peoples. You’ll have time to meet and greet the dogs and learn from their mushers before giving it a try yourself.  

By now, the lakes have frozen over and are ready for skaters. Parks Canada doesn’t monitor natural lakes for ice thickness, so we recommend safer options. You’ll find human-made rinks in Banff and a natural rink on Lake Louise, which is checked by Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise staff.  

While you’re all bundled up, head over to Lake Louise Ski Resort or Mt. Norquay to whiz down, twirl around, and race to the bottom of their tube parks.  

January Events  

SnowDays  

Join us in celebrating all things winter! From January 19-30, 2022, there are events all over Banff and Lake Louise suitable for families, friends, and couples alike.  

In Banff, you’ll find larger-than-life outdoor snow sculptures that take over the town. Along with Skijorning and the SnowDays Play Zone, there is plenty to keep you entertained! 

Skijoring: A person riding a horse pulls a skiier behind him performing tricks and jumps
Billie Jean Duff

In Lake Louise, Ice Magic returns to the lakeshore, where you’ll see ice sculptors from all over the world battle it out in a renowned competition. Make sure you check out the ticket and shuttle information as you plan your visit. 

Tribute Craft Spirits Festival  

Taking place alongside SnowDays, Tribute brings you the best spirits from Alberta and British Columbia paired with our vibrant local food scene.  

Select restaurants between Banff and Lake Louise will host the festival from January 19-30, 2022, which will finish off with a 2-day event outdoors on the 28th and 29th.  

Two girls smiling for a photo at an outdoor winter event surrounded by big white tents and ice bars and scultpures
Devaan Ingraham

Nightrise  

After dark, the skies light up with more than just stars as the Banff Gondola hosts Nightrise in partnership with the Stoney Nakoda Nation. A combination of light, projections, and music cover Sulphur Mountain, telling the story of the First Peoples in this area. 

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