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Winterstart Festival

The Banff Winterstart Festival

The snow was soft beneath your step and snowflakes tickled your face. Festive lights strung above the sidewalk glowed, illuminating the gently falling snow. The sounds of bells and carol singers ebbed and flowed as you neared the town centre. It was a true festive winter wonderland.  

Celebrate the arrival of winter to Banff & Lake Louise with the annual Winterstart Festival. Held over four weeks starting in early November, the festival marks the coming alive of the mountains with snow and all the fun that winter brings. 

The Winterstart Festival has events and activities for everyone. Spend days exploring the endless winter activities on offer in the Canadian Rockies. Stroll the snow-covered streets to join the celebrations in town, and find a cozy restaurant for dinner before curling up by a crackling fire. The next day, catch World Cup racing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort or hit the slopes yourself, followed by some well earned après ski fun or shopping at the Christmas Market. 

Bon Appétit Banff

The Winterstart Festival kicks off with the food festivities of Bon Appétit Banff. The finest restaurants in Banff & Lake Louise feature seasonal menus and show off their culinary creations. Learn more here

Noel Hendrickson

Banff Christmas Market

Take the opportunity to peruse the Banff Christmas Market for Rocky Mountain-styled gifts or a keepsake of your own. Read more here

Santa Claus Parade of Lights and Festive Fun

Kelly Macdonald

Celebrate the season in the winter wonderland of Banff & Lake Louise. Get into the festive sprit at the annual Santa Claus Parade of Lights, and then enjoy the rest of the festive fun events on offer. Find out more here.

Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup

Each year the stunning Lake Louise Ski Resort hosts the first race of the Alpine Ski World Cup season. There is no better venue than the panoramic views of Lake Louise to experience ski racing first hand. The sound of ringing cowbells, the colourful flags of nations from all around the world, and the frightening speeds of ski racers whizzing by; it’s an exhilarating event to be a part of. 

Admission is free. 

Banff Craft Beer Festival

The Banff Craft Beer Festival not only features tasty beers, but a uniquely stunning location. The festival takes place in the spectacular outdoors venue of the Cave and Basin National historic site, in the midst of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. Wrap up warm and try a range of locally brewed beers from Alberta.

Visit the Alberta Beer Festivals’ website for more information. 

Other Events

Also during this month long festival are live music concerts, guided walks, carolling, film screenings, and a range of other events hosted by local businesses. Check the events calendar to see what's happening when you are in town.

  • Hiking Sentinel Pass Banff National Park Jake Dyson

    Sentinel Pass, Moraine Lake

  • Winter Hiking Two Jack Lake Noel Hendrickson

    Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka Drive

  • Hiking Mistaya Canyon Banff National Park Noel Hendrickson

    Mistaya Canyon, Icefields Parkway

  • Hikers pause along the Beehive Trail above Lake Louise to take a photograph.

    Little Beehive, Lake Louise

    Paul Zizka
  • Larch Valley, Banff National Park

    Larch Valley, Moraine Lake

    Devaan Ingraham
  • Family Hiking Johnston Canyon

    Johnston Canyon, Bow Valley Parkway

  • Tea House Hikes

    Perched by the lake and amongst the peaks and glaciers surrounding Lake Louise are two historic Tea Houses perfectly positioned for your well-earned rest. 

    It’s worth the huffing and puffing to hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House or Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. With breathtaking views and delicious food and refreshments, hiking to the Tea Houses is a memorably authentic experience in Banff & Lake Louise.    

    Read More
  • Heli Hiking & Tours

    Fly amongst the mountain peaks and glaciers then start your hike high in the alpine. 

    Imagine hopping onto a helicopter and soaring high above Banff National Park, gazing down on glistening lakes, rugged peaks, and imposing glaciers, before touching down and starting your hike in the alpine wonderland. 

    Read More
  • Backcountry Lodges

    The best of both worlds: luxurious lodgings in the midst of the wilderness. 

    A cozy wooden cabin, a fire to ward off the early morning alpine chill, a hearty breakfast, and a whole day ahead exploring the pristine wilderness. A couple of days off the grid at a backcountry lodge is a rejuvenating experience.

    Read More
  • Snowshoeing

    Glide across the snow with warm boots on and snowshoes strapped securely on your feet.

    Access gentle and narrow trails around a frozen lake or discover a wide open field that provides majestic mountain views, there is opportunity for snowshoeing everywhere.

    Read More