7 Banff events to get you in the festive spirit this season

Nov 17 2021, 10:47 pm

Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As recommended by health officials, if you choose to participate in events outside of your home, please adhere to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including proper physical distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent handwashing. Additionally, be aware that many businesses and events may be participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program and will require proof of vaccine or a negative, privately paid COVID-19 test. If you are sick, please stay home.

The Rocky Mountains are absolutely magical at Christmastime, and there are a number of events happening in Banff this season that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit in no time.

Banff is stunning at any time of the year, but with sparkling snow, majestic white mountain peaks, and thousands of twinkling lights, the town is just that much more enchanting during the winter.

From Christmas activities at the Castle in the Rockies to holiday markets, boozy hot chocolate offerings to an illuminated live Christmas story, there are plenty of ways to spend the season in Banff. Whether you want to be indoors or outside, enjoying nature or shopping local, sipping cocoa or sampling beer, there’s something for everyone.

So round up your friends, family, or significant other, book yourself into one of the town’s coziest hotels, pack your winter jacket, boots, and toque, and get ready to experience some Christmas magic in the Rockies.

Here are seven events to check out in Banff this holiday season.

In Search of Christmas Spirit

banff christmas

Paul Zizka via Banff & Lake Louise Tourism (banfflakelouise.com)

In Search of Christmas Spirit is a live Christmas story told through a sensory extravaganza of light and sound, bringing all the festive vibes to locals and visitors to Banff. The event invites guests to discover the true meaning of connection and love through a free, outdoor illuminated journey and a tale told by the wildlife of Banff National Park.

When: November 24, 2021, to January 1, 2022
Time: Departures every 10 minutes between 5 and 10:30 pm Wednesday through Saturday from November 24 to December 18, and 5 and 10:30 pm daily from December 22, 2021, to January 1, 2022
Where: Check in at the Banff Park Museum (91 Banff Avenue, Banff), then head to the Cascade of Time Garden to start the experience (Cave Avenue, Banff)
Tickets: Free; reservations required

Nightrise at the Banff Gondola

Banff events

Pursuit (banffjaspercollection.com)

Pursuit’s latest experience, Nightrise, combines multimedia, storytelling, and nature at the Banff Gondola for an immersive, multi-sensory journey like no other. The event will bring light and sound together to share a new and inspiring perspective in the heart of the Rockies. At Sulphur Mountain’s peak, guests can explore the many levels of the summit building and enjoy Rockies-inspired eats and drinks. Outside on the viewing decks, guests will discover wonders that only emerge as the night begins to rise.

When: December 2, 2021, to March 12, 2022
Time: Gondola upload time slots between 5:10 and 8:10 pm
Where: Banff Gondola (100 Mountain Avenue, Banff)
Tickets: Starting at $56 for adults

Hot Chocolate Trail

Banff events

Larkspur Lounge via Banff & Lake Louise Tourism (banfflakelouise.com)

Adventure with your taste buds and sample limited-time, holiday-themed hot chocolates at one (or several) of Banff’s restaurants on the Hot Chocolate Trail. With both boozy and alcohol-free cocoas available, you’ll find beverages with names like Raspberry White Hot Chocolate Kiss, Coconut Cloud, Snow Angel, The Winter Shaft, and Chilli Chai Hot Chocolate at 15 participating venues throughout the holidays.

When: November 20, 2021, to January 1, 2022
Time: Business operating hours; varies by location
Where: 15+ participating restaurants and cafes in Banff
Cost: Varies by location

Banff Craft Beer Festival

While there’s nothing specifically festive about the Banff Craft Beer Festival, sipping a brew against a mountain backdrop is almost guaranteed to get even the Scroogiest-Scrooge in the holiday spirit. Held partially outdoors, the Banff Beerfest allows you to sample delicious Alberta-made craft beer and spirits along the reconstructed and reimagined Bear Street, which now boasts a pedestrian plaza feel.

When: December 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11
Time: Varies by date; check event listing for details
Where: 212 Bear Street, Banff
Tickets: $29.99 for admission, additional cost for sample tokens

Bear Street Holiday Market


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Stroll through the all-new Bear Street Holiday Market this season and browse the stalls for holiday gifts (and a few goodies for yourself, of course). Located in the heart of downtown Banff, the Bear Street Holiday Market features local artisans, retailers, and food stalls, and shoppers can round out their experience with a bite to eat at one of Bear Street’s many restaurants.

When: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 19 to December 12, daily from December 17 to 24 and December 26 to 31
Time: Fridays from 4 to 9 pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm from November 19 to December 12, 10 am to 6 pm daily from December 17 to 31 (closed December 25)
Where: Bear Street in downtown Banff
Admission: Free

Banff Christmas Market

Devaan Ingraham via Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Held at Warner Stables, the Banff Christmas Market has over 80 artisanal vendors, live music, and an outdoor fire lounge to enjoy a boozy beverage. There’s also a tree lighting ceremony, Santa’s House & Reindeer Stables, Christmas treats, and warm drinks to leave you feeling warm and cozy.

When: November 19 to 21 and November 26 to 28
Time: 10 am to 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm Sundays
Where: Warner Stables (100 Sundance Road, Banff)
Admission: $7.50 for those age 13 and older; tickets must be pre-purchased

Christmas at the Castle

Spend the season at Alberta’s “Castle in the Rockies” for a truly magical experience. The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is hosting a wide array of activities this winter, including a performance of A Christmas Carol, private campfire pits, concerts, crafts, hotel history tours and wilderness walks, holiday movies, visits to the “North Pole,” and much more. A full schedule of events and activities can be found at christmasatthecastle.ca.

When: November 2021 to January 2022
Time: Varies by activity
Where: Fairmont Banff Springs hotel (405 Spray Avenue, Banff)
Cost: Varies by activity

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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