Festive Activities in Banff to get you into the Holiday Spirit

If you’re like us, you’ve been counting down for Christmas since last boxing day. To help you unwrap your holiday spirit we have put together a list of the best festive activities around the town of Banff and just minutes from the lodge! Gather your friends, family and start the celebrations.

See the Sights at the Santa Claus Parade of Lights

Photo credit: Kelly MacDonald/Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

On Saturday, November 17, a flurry of family-friendly activities kick-starts the season in Banff bringing holiday cheer to a whole new level. During the day, kids can have their photo taken with Santa and tell him all their Christmas wishes! Starting at 6 p.m. on Banff Avenue, the main strip comes alive with the magic glow of the Santa Claus Parade of Lights as a procession of floats, performers, and Santa himself traverse Banff Avenue.

This year’s Santa Claus Parade of Lights will take place on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. on Banff Avenue.

Find the Perfect Gift at the Banff Christmas Market

Visit the Banff Christmas Market for an enjoyable and relaxing holiday shopping. Look for a special gift for someone or find a keepsake for yourself while you shop booths of unique artisanal gifts. Featuring goods inspired by Rocky Mountain culture, you’re bound to find one-of-a-kind treasures. Festive entertainment and culinary delights will put you in the mood for the holidays and jumpstart your Christmas season. Located at the Warner Stables – 1 Sundance Road.

  • November 22 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • November 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • November 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • November 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Keep warm and toasty with a treat from Buffalo Mountain Café

Before heading out on your Christmas shopping venture on Banff Avenue, stop in at Buffalo Mountain Café located just steps from the main lodge, and grab a hot cocoa or eggnog. This cozy cabin cafe will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a real-life gingerbread house, you can even eat one there too!

Find Holiday Treasures along Banff Avenue

Photo credit: Noel Henderson/Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Are you struggling to find that perfect gift for your loved one? A trip to the mountains won’t only help you escape the holiday chaos at the mall, but it just might help you polish off that shopping list, too. For an extra special Christmas feeling, visit the Christmas Store right on Banff Ave!

*Bonus* Christmas carolers from the Bow Valley Chorus performing as you shop on Friday, December 1, 8 & 22 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Get Your Annual Photo with Santa

A true holiday classic! Bring the little elves in your family for a photo with Santa at the Banff Heritage Train Station. Kids can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while they wait to meet Jolly Ole Saint Nick.

  • November 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Enjoy A Christmas Carol Performance at the Fairmont Banff Springs

Beginning on December 7, 2018, the Fairmont Banff Springs is proud to present the Charles Dickens Classic, A Christmas Carol. With special performances on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, don’t miss this unique performance filled with music, puppetry and an incredible cast. Performances through to December 30, 2018. While you’re there explore the Christmas decorations around the castle.

Welcome Santa to town on Christmas Eve at Buffalo Mountain Lodge

On the night before Christmas, you and your family are invited to an eggnog reception in our lobby where a reading of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas will be read as we anxiously wait for Santa’s Claus’ arrival. Colouring, cookie decorating and ornament making will also be available in the Wainwright room from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Settle in for a Christmas Feast at Sleeping Buffalo

Photo credit: Celestine Arden

Savour your time in this winter wonderland before Christmas Dinner is served in the main dining room at Buffalo Mountain Lodge. This special menu is created with the traditions of the holidays in mind but with a modern twist. All our food includes locally sourced products and game meats that are ethically raised on our own CRM Ranch without steroids or hormones. Christmas dinner and breakfast on Boxing Day are included in the Christmas Package.

Not staying in the Lodge? Don’t worry, you can still indulge in our special Christmas Day menu for only $85 per person.

Relax in a Mountain View Hot tub on Boxing Day

Photo credit: Christopher Amat

Boxing Day is that day when you can relax without any worries and reflect on the festive season and be content. What better way to celebrate boxing day than in a  mountain view hot tub as the snowflakes fall around you?  Thankfully, our outdoor hot tub hot tub is the best place to unwind after a chaotic holiday season and provides some of the best settings for your yearly reflection before ringing in 2019.

Ice Skating in a Winter Wonderland

Skating in the mountains is a Christmas activity you won’t want to miss out on. Whether you like a natural lake or an indoor rink, Banff has got you covered with a large variety of skating locations.

The Waldhaus Rink
For a traditional experience, head to The Waldhaus Rink in the Spray Meadow behind the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. It’s a picture-perfect spot for skating, with a warming hut and open fire nearby. Afterwards, have a snack at the traditional German pub, located directly above the rink.

Banff High School
The outdoor rink at the Banff High School in downtown Banff is lit into the evenings and offers hot chocolate and skate rentals on site.

Banff Train Station
The Banff Train Station is another ideal outdoor rink for family skating and pick-up hockey games. There is additional lighting until the early evening!

Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre
The well-equipped Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre offers indoor public skating and shinny year-round on two full hockey rinks. There is an entry fee to this rink and skate rentals are available on site.

Walk in a Winter Wonderland

Photo credit: Jennifer Fast & Glenn Parry

After a delicious and decadent breakfast at Buffalo Mountain Lodge, spend your afternoon walking around the beautiful winter scenery on one of Banff’s many trails. Later, tour the grounds and witness Christmas magic with the festive decorations and beautiful details that will give you those holiday feels.

Catch a Holiday Show at The Banff Centre

The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity has a variety of family-friendly festive events that will ignite your holiday cheer. There is something about dressing up and going to the theatre that gives us the Christmas tingles and we bet you’ll feel the same way with these holiday shows!

The Barra MacNeils: An East Coast Christmas
One of the most beloved concerts on the seasonal circuit, the Barra MacNeils Christmas shows always feature a highly entertaining brand of traditional seasonal. Fans look forward to classic favourites including: “Oh Holy Night”, “Ave Maria”,” A Christmas in Killarney” and “Auld Lang Syne” as well as some comedy, seasonal stories, music, singing, dance, and memories that will extend beyond the season and last a lifetime.
Date: Sunday, November 25, 2018 @ 6:30 p.m.
Child: $30

The Debaters Live Christmas Special
After a sold out show last year, The Debaters is back with this special Christmas-themed event where comics go toe-to-toe in a battle of laughs and logic and the audience picks the winner. Some language may be inappropriate for younger audiences.
Date: Sunday, December 2, 2018 @7:30 p.m.
General Admission: 

Sharon & Bram Christmas Show
Since 1978, Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison have been pre-eminent in all aspects of family entertainment across North America as members of the trio “Sharon, Lois & Bram”. Together, the threesome produced over twenty recordings, beginning with their iconic ‘One Elephant, Deux Elephants’, three song-books, six national TV specials, sixty-five episodes of The Elephant Show, and fifty-two of Skinnamarink TV. To date, they have sold over 3 million albums worldwide.
Date: Saturday, December 15, 2018 @ 7:30 p.m.
Adult: $30

Dash Through the Snow on a Sleigh

Photo credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism/ Paul Zizka

Horse-drawn rides are relaxing and festive, so sit back and take in the winter wonder as you tour Banff in style. Well-mannered horses and friendly drivers add the perfect touch to an easy paced sleigh ride. These tours typically start in December depending on the snowfall and go through to the new year. Lasting about 45 minutes to an hour, which is the best length of time to enjoy the winter weather. Make sure children and adults dress warm and bundle up so you can truly enjoy a memorable horse-drawn ride. This is a very popular Christmas season activity, so book early to make sure you don’t miss out on your winter sleigh ride. Rides depart every hour from the Warner Stables at 1 Sundance Road.
Per Adult: $38
Children (4-12): 

  • Monday to Thursday from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Friday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Hitting the Slopes on Christmas Day

Skiing or snowboarding on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is highly underrated, especially when the slopes are virtually empty and offer great deals and discounts! Having a Christmas shred with the family is a great way to keep your kids mellow on their favourite day of the year while saving on the cost of lift tickets. The lodge also offers a free shuttle service to the local ski bus, so you don’t have to worry about parking or driving in winter conditions!

Sunshine Village

Catch up with Santa & Mrs. Claus as they ski around Sunshine Village handing candy canes to kids of all ages. Santa will be hitting the slopes on December 23, 24 and 25, 2018. Anyone who dresses like Santa or Mrs. Claus on Christmas Day get to ski and ride for free! Before shredding the Christmas Day pow, join the Sunshine staff for a special “Skier’s Church” service on top of Strawberry Chair at 10:00 a.m. After a long day on the mountain, gather around the Bourgeau Bonfire and sing Christmas carols while enjoying a hot chocolate by the fire.

Mt. Norquay

Want to stay close to the lodge but want to get in those Christmas Day turns? Mt. Norquay is only a 10-minute drive from Buffalo Mountain Lodge are home to the first Santa Shred for Free deal in the Bow Valley. Anyone dressed up as the Jolly St. Nick, or Mrs. Claus, or a Reindeer or and Elf will receive a free full day pass! Not big into skiing or snowboarding? Mt. Norquay’s snow tube park, the first in the Banff area, is a fantastic family activity and a unique way to experience the slopes. Tubing is also available on night skiing on Friday evenings throughout the holidays

NYE Special

Ring in the New Year with Mt Norquay’s Torchlight Parade. The event starts at 7pm and begins at the summit of the North American Chair and can be seen from the Town of Banff. If you would like to join in the ski down and are an expert skier, please contact sales@banffnorquay.com.