It’s mid November, there is already snow on the ground in Banff and Lake Louise, and thoughts about skiing and snowboarding have started to dominate the minds of snow sports lovers across the country.
Probably the most common question for skiers and riders right now is:
“When do Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay open for the 2013-2014 ski season?”
Well, the long wait for the winter season in the Banff Lake Louise area is finally over with Sunshine Village & Lake Louise now open for the season and Norquay also open at weekends!
Mount Norquay opened on November 1 and remains open for weekend skiing (Cascade Chair only) until November 29 when full operations will commence.
Sunshine Village opened for the season on November 15 2013.
The Lake Louise Ski Area opened for the season on November 8 2013.
On opening day and during the early part of the season, not all runs and lifts will be open, and before heading up the hill it’s recommended to check the ski area websites for up to date snow conditions and trail information.
Against the spectacular back drop of the Canadian Rockies, athletes from across North America will be competing in the fourth annual Subaru Banff International Triathlon on Saturday September 7 2013. The setting for the race could not be more scenic, with the swim taking place in Two Jack Lake, the bike race around most of the stunning Minnewanka Loop and then into the town of Banff, followed by the run along the banks of the Bow River, with the finish on Banff Avenue in the heart of downtown Banff.
The race will include three distances, with the Olympic distance starting with a 1.5km swim, followed by a 37km bike ride and finishing with a 10km run, and the shorter Sprint distance including a 500m swim, 25km bike ride and 5km run. There will also be a Super Sprint distance which includes a 300m swim, 13km bike ride and 5km run. There will also be relay teams competing in all distances.
Our interactive Banff Triathlon Map shows an overview of the full course, as well as all start and transition zones and allows you to zoom in to view detailed close ups of any section of the course. To view the Banff triathlon course map, click here.
The race starts with the swim at Two Jack Lake with the Super Sprint Waves starting at 9.15am and 9.18am, the Sprint Waves at 9.21am and 9.24am and the Olympic Waves at 10.45am and 10.49am. With the 2012 winner of the Super Sprint completing the course in just over 56 minutes, you can expect the first racers to cross the finish line not long after 10am.
Previous winning times for the Olympic distance have been in the 1hr 50mins to 2hr range, but the bike stage is 1km shorter this year which could shave off a couple of minutes.
For further information about the race, visit the official race website.
Cycling enthusiasts will be flocking to Banff National Park from June 13-16 for the 2013 Bike Fest road bike racing event. Taking place over 4 exciting days, Bike Fest 2013 will comprise 5 races, 4 of which will be in and around the town of Banff, with one race starting further west in Lake Louise.
Each race course route can be seen on the Banff Bike Fest map, an interactive Google map showing all the courses as well as the start and finish areas for each event.
Cascade Plaza Prologue – June 13
This is a 1.5 km steep climb with approx 100m of elevation gain starting from the corner of Buffalo Street and Otter Street, heading up Buffalo Street past Surprise Corner onto Tunnel Mountain Drive and ending at the corner of Tunnel Mountain Drive and St Julien Way, behind the Banff Centre. The race starts at 6pm and riders will start individually every 30 seconds.
Lake Louise Road Race – June 14
Starting and finishing in Lake Louise, the majority of this 81 km race takes place on the Bow Valley Parkway, Highway 1A, heading east from Lake Louise past Castle Junction as far as Sawback Picnic Area where racers will turn around and head west back along the Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louise. The race starts at the Lake Louise Recreation Centre on Village Road at 9.30am for Cat 1/2 Men, 9.45am for Cat 3/4, and 10am for the Open Women category. The race finish is 1km east of the 1A Exit to Lake Louise.
Individual Time Trial (ITT) – June 15
Taking a scenic route counterclockwise around the scenic Minnewanka Loop, the Time Trial sees cyclists racing against the clock on a 21 km course with approx 130m of elevation gain starting and ending at the corner of Banff Avenue & Marmot Crescent in Banff. The race starts at 8am with riders leaving every 30 seconds.
Criterium – June 15
One of the most exciting races of Bike Fest, and also one of the most popular for spectators, the Criterium involves racing multiple loops of a short 1 km circuit with tight turns and fast moving action in downtown Banff, counterclockwise along Banff Avenue, Wolf St, Beaver St and Moose St. The races kick off with the Cat 5 riders at 4.30pm who will be riding 22 laps of the course, followed at approx 5.10pm by Cat 4 racers riding 24 laps, 5.50pm Cat 3 racers riding 26 laps, 6.40pm the Open Women category riding 26 laps, and culminating in the fastest and longest race of the evening with Cat 1/2 Men racing 50 laps of the course, starting at approx 7.30pm.*
*Start times are estimated.
Little Crits & Cruiser Crit
Preceding the Criterium on June 15 are two fun bike races for anyone to join in. Starting at 3.00pm the Balkan Restaurant Little Crits gives kids up to 11 yrs the chance to race on the Criterium course while raising funds for Banff Elementary School. With the styles of bike as varied as the costumes of the riders, the Cruiser Crit is a fund raising event which is as comical for the spectators as for the participants, starting at 3.30pm.
Tunnel Mountain Road Race – June 16
The last race of Banff National Park Bike Fest 2013, Tunnel Mountain Road Race starts from the corner of Beaver Street and Wolf Street and takes racers onto Banff Ave as far as Rocky Mountain Resort where a right turn leads uphill onto Tunnel Mountain Road which loops past the Hoodoos Lookout and Tunnel Mountain Campground, left at Buffalo Mountain Lodge onto Tunnel Mountain Drive around the back of the Banff Centre, with an exciting descent past Surprise Corner and back into town. The race is split into 3 different categories with Cat 3/4 starting at 7am, Open Women starting at 7.02am, and Cat 1/2 Men starting at 10.10am. The first 2 groups will be racing 78 km (6 laps) while the race distance for Cat 1/2 Men will be 130 km (10 laps).
To view the start and finish points for the above races as well as the routes the races will take, see the Bike Fest course map.
Easter is a excellent opportunity for a springtime visit to the Canadian Rockies. With Easter Sunday 2013 falling relatively early on March 31, the ski and snowboard season will still be in full swing at Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Mountain Resort, and Mount Norquay. Easter is also a great time to go sightseeing in Banff National Park as the views of the snow-capped peaks are stunning at this time of year, and the roads are very quiet compared to the summer months. Alternatively, strolling through the streets of downtown Banff discovering the excellent restaurants and shopping can be a fun and relaxing way to spend the Easter holiday weekend.
Banff Lodging for Easter 2013
Easter weekend is usually a busy one for hotels in Banff, and most Banff accommodations do not offer specific Easter packages or special deals. That being said, at the time of writing, availability is quite good for Easter weekend and it is recommended that you make your reservations as early as possible while there is still a wide selection of hotels to choose from. As the holiday weekend approaches, vacancies for the night of Saturday March 30 are likely to become limited, while Friday March 29 and Sunday March 31 will probably have more openings.
To check rates and availability for several Banff hotels, click here.
Skiing and Snowboarding
The Banff area is blessed with a long winter which means that by Easter the ski resorts often have some of their best snow of the whole season. Both Sunshine Village and Lake Louise Mountain Resort are open until May and with the amount of snow they have on the ground at the moment, it looks like spring skiing will be as good as it gets this Easter 2013. Also Mount Norquay will be open for Easter weekend skiing, with a closing day of April 14 at the earliest.
Easter Sunday Brunch in Banff
One of the best things to do on Easter Sunday in Banff is to treat yourself to one of the amazing brunches offered by several hotels in town, and we have listed some of the most popular options below. These events are extremely popular and are likely to sell out, which means early reservations are strongly recommended.
Easter Sunday Brunch at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Sunday Brunch at the Banff Springs Hotel is legendary, and their Easter Brunch is no exception. In addition to the impressive breakfast and lunch specialties, there are often extra Easter themed treats which make the Easter Brunch buffet even more special. Also, the Brunch for Easter 2013 will take place in the Van Horne Ballroom, which is a rare opportunity to dine in this venue which is reserved for special occasions.
When: March 31 2013, 10.00-14.30
Where: Van Horne Ballroom
Cost: Adults $59, Children 6-12yrs $29.50, 5yrs + under free
Reservations: 403 762 6860
Easter Brunch at the Evergreen Restaurant
The Evergreen Restaurant at the Delta Banff Royal Canadian Lodge will be hosting a delicious Easter brunch buffet on March 31. Among the breakfast favorites on offer are an omelette station and eggs benedict, with a cold buffet featuring smoked salmon, tiger prawns, a charcuterie platter and a selection of salads. Hot lunch items include coq au vin, poached salmon, and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, rounded out with a selection of desserts.
When: March 31 2013, 10.30-14.00
Where: Evergreen Restaurant
Cost: Adults $30, Children 6-12yrs $16.00, 5yrs + under free
Reservations: 403 760 6956
Rimrock Resort Hotel Easter Brunch
Sunday Brunch will be offered in the Hawthorn Room and Ballroom at the Rimrock Resort Hotel, and will feature a buffet with breakfast and lunch items and chef attended stations.
When: March 31 2013, 10.00-13.30
Where: Hawthorn Room & Ballroom
Cost: Adults $35, Children 6-12yrs $17.50, 5yrs + under free
Reservations: 403 762 3356
Eggs Benedict at the Juniper Hotel & Bistro
With spectacular lake and mountain views, the Juniper Bistro will be offering a special Easter Eggs Benedict a la carte menu on Sunday March 31 and Monday April 1 from 7.30am to 2pm. You can enjoy your eggs benny with delectable pairings such as duck confit, beef tenderloin, back bacon or spinach & tomato. This special menu also includes other breakfast and lunch items.
When: March 31 & April 1 2013, 7.30-14.00
Where: Juniper Bistro
Cost: a la carte items at approx $15 each
Reservations: 403 762 2281
Easter Sunday Brunch at the Banff Park Lodge
The Banff Park Lodge will be serving Easter Sunday Brunch in the Chinook Restaurant from 10am to 2pm. The buffet includes a wide selection of breakfast and hot & cold lunch items, and make sure you leave plenty of room for the excellent dessert station!
When: March 31 2013, 10.00-14.00
Where: Chinook Restaurant
Cost: Adults $33.95, Seniors $28.95, Children 6-12yrs $23.95, 5yrs + under free
Reservations: 403 760 3255
Easter Brunch at Mount Norquay
If you are skiing or riding on Easter Sunday, why not have your brunch on mountain? Kika’s Cafe at Mount Norquay will be hosting brunch on March 31st from 10am to 1pm. There will be plenty of breakfast goodies on the menu including eggs, bacon, and French toast with maple syrup, and the kids are sure to enjoy the Easter egg hunt outside the lodge at 10am.
When: March 31 2013, 10.00-13.00
Where: Kika’s Cafe, Mount Norquay
Cost: Adults $17.00, Children 6-13yrs $8.50, 5yrs + under free
The Keg Brunch Buffet
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar at the Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa will be offering a brunch buffet on Easter Sunday with breakfast and lunch items such as eggs benedict, French toast with strawberries, peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, salad bar, honey glazed ham and prime rib.
When: March 31 2013, 11.00-14.00
Where: The Keg at the Caribou Lodge & Spa
Cost: Adults $24.99, Children 12yrs and under $9.99
Reservations: 403 762 4442
*The above rates for Easter Sunday Brunch do not include tax and service charge.
Now in its 5th year, the annual Banff Dragon Boat Festival is set to take place on the weekend of August 11 to 12 2012.
Dragon Boat races take place each day from 9am to 3pm on Lake Minnewanka, a pristine alpine lake surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, approximately 10km from downtown Banff. Originating in China more than 2000 years ago, the 40ft long boats have a dragon’s head and tail and are decorated in vibrant colours, with a team of 20 paddlers and a drummer beating the rhythm, which can be heard from the shore, adding to the spectators’ excitement.
The event is lots of fun for participants and spectators alike, and while you are waiting between races there is of course the beauty of the Lake Minnewanka area to discover with its scenic beaches, hiking trails and picnic tables. As parking at Lake Minnewanka is limited, spectators are encouraged to take the free Dragon Express Shuttle which runs every 30 minutes from 8am to 2.00pm (return service until 4.30pm), with departures from the Brewster Bus Depot, Caribou St adjacent to the Mount Royal Hotel, and Banff Ave/Fox St in downtown Banff. There is also a shuttle every 15 minutes from the Overflow Camping parking lot on the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road.
As part of the Dragon Boast Festival celebrations there will also be cultural performances in Banff Avenue Square from 1pm to 5pm August 11 and from 12pm to 1.30pm August 12.
For further information, as well as some photos and video from last year’s event, visit BanffLakeLouise.com.
From January 14 to February 12 2012 Banff SnowDays winter festival will bring a whole host of exciting winter activities and events to the town of Banff and other venues in Banff National Park. Like Jasper in January, a popular annual event in Jasper Alberta, SnowDays is a chance to celebrate everything that is wonderful about winter in the Canadian Rockies. While skiing and snowboarding are already extremely popular activities for winter visitors to Banff, SnowDays introduces some new ways to enjoy and appreciate the winter months, with story telling, outdoor skating, curling, mountain films, wildlife walks, live entertainment and street hockey joining existing events and festivals such as Celebrity Ski and the Ice Magic Festival.
Banff SnowDays Events & Activities
Banff Snow Days kicks off with the Fairmont Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational, otherwise known as Celebrity Ski on Thursday January 12 2012. Taking place until January 15, Celebrity Ski brings together Hollywood stars such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Alec Baldwin at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel with skiing, snowboarding and other fun events at Sunshine Village in aid of the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The same weekend, the Mountain Adventure Festival will take place on January 14 and 15 with ice climbing in downtown Banff, outdoor skating, snow carving, and mountain adventure stories.
January 20-22 sees the first weekend of the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise where masterpieces will be carved from huge blocks of ice, while on Jan 21 at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel there’s a chance to join a free guided hike with Parks Canada to learn how to identify wildlife tracks. Kids will love meeting sled dogs on the evening of Jan 21, and on Sunday January 22 the famous Lake Louise to Banff Loppet cross country ski race will take place.
On the evening of Friday January 27 the hilarious Cardboard Sled Derby takes place at Mount Norquay and on Janury 28 and 29 the second weekend of the Ice Magic Festival takes place with an emphasis on family fun for the Little Chippers. Also on Jan 28 is a talk about bear safety courtesy of Parks Canada, and that night you’ll have the opportunity to join the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada for an evening of star gazing.
Saturday February 4 sees the Dave Irwin Dash for Cash at Sunshine Village, free snowshoeing lessons at the Fairmont Banff Springs golf course, and fireside stories about Norman Sanson at the Banff Park Museum. On Sunday February 5 visit the Mary Schaffer Story Tent to hear historical stories about early explorations in Banff National Park.
For something completely different, on the final weekend of Banff SnowDays, why not go and see the Victorian Soldier Drumming and Firing Demonstration on the evening of Friday February 10. One of the highlights of Banff Snow Days 2012 has to be the street ball hockey tournament taking place on Banff Avenue throughout the day on February 11 and 12, and for a historical perspective on Canada’s national game there’s also the opportunity to see a Victorian Hockey Demonstration on Feb 11 at the Banff Community High School Outdoor Rink.
The above SnowDays activities are just a small selection of what’s on offer throughout this exciting winter festival, and you will find a full schedule of events by visiting www.banfflakelouise.com.
Find a Banff Hotel
In general, Banff hotels do not offer special packages or deals specifically for SnowDays, however if you need accommodations during this winter festival you can simply click here and enter your dates to see rates and availability for a selection of hotels in Banff.
If you are planning to celebrate New Years in the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise is well worth having on your shortlist of potential destinations. With attractive hotel packages, awe inspiring scenery, and world class skiing on your doorstep, New Years in Lake Louise is sure to provide an experience to remember.
If you are looking for a New Year package at a Lake Louise hotel, we have listed some interesting options below:
New Years at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Surrounded by magnificent views on the shore of Lake Louise, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise boasts an idyllic location for any occasion, and will indeed be a memorable place to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2012. Throughout the Christmas and New Year period the hotel is offering a special Holiday Package which includes your hotel accommodation, one sleigh ride per stay, daily breakfast, and self parking. The package is valid from December 1 2012 to January 17 2013 with rates starting at $329 per room per night.
Click here for details and to check availability.
In true Fairmont style, the Chateau Lake Louise has a wide variety of fun activities and events taking place during the holiday period, with several options for both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day:
New Year’s Eve Dinner Buffet – December 31
In the Victoria Ballroom, a family friendly New Year’s Eve dinner buffet will be offered on December 31 2012.
5.30-6.30pm first seating (recommended for families)
8.00-9.00pm second seating
Adults $89, Children 6-12 yrs $44.50
New Year’s Eve Family Fair – December 31
A special party for the children in the Mount Temple Wing with face painting, balloon artist, bouncy castle and other exciting kids’ entertainment. Kids must be accompanied by parents.
Fairview Dining Room – December 31
An adult only New Years celebration featuring a four course New Year’s Eve menu.
Glacier Saloon – December 31
See in 2013 in a fun pub style atmosphere in the Glacier Saloon, including a live DJ. (not recommended for children)
Lakeview Lounge – December 31
A sophisticated venue for enjoying your favorite drink and celebrating New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Day Brunch – January 1
For your first meal of 2013, the famous New Year brunch at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is sure to please the whole family, with an impressive buffet including children’s specialties, taking place in the Victoria Dining Room.
1st Seating 10.00-11.00am
2nd Seating 12.30-1.30pm
Adults $59, Children 6-12 yrs $29.50
As well as the dining options above, there is a whole host of festive activities taking place at the Chateau Lake Louise on December 31 and January 1 including Ice Walks, Snowshoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Mitten Making, and a Children’s Pool Party.
To check availability and rates for the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Click Here.
New Year at the Lake Louise Inn
At the time of writing, the Lake Louise Inn still has rooms available over the New Year period. To check current availability and rates, click here.
If you are interested in a special package, the Lake Louise Inn also has a 1 night deal for New Years, which includes accommodation for one night, plus a New Year’s Eve dinner buffet for 2 adults. This package is valid for arrivals on December 31 only and rates start at $219.
Deer Lodge New Year’s Eve
Deer Lodge is offering a one night special package for New Year’s Eve. The New Year’s Eve Extravaganza Package includes accommodations for one night, plus a gala dinner with a glass of sparkling wine and DJ entertainment on December 31 and a buffet breakfast on New Year’s Day, with rooms starting at $394.
To check room only availability at Deer Lodge click here.
*The above rates are generally based on double occupancy, are subject to applicable taxes, subject to availability, and subject to change without notice. To check current rates and availability please use the links provided.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and if you are planning to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Banff you should consider making your Banff hotel reservation as soon as possible while there are still rooms available.
To check availability and rates at several Banff accommodations for Friday October 11, Saturday October 12 and Sunday October 13 2013, click here and enter your travel dates.
If you are looking for a special hotel package for Thanksgiving weekend, you may wish to try the Fall into Savings Package at the luxury Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Although this package is not specifically for Thanksgiving, it is available over the Thanksgiving weekend, subject to availability. The package is available for a minimum 2 night stay and gives you a bigger saving the longer you stay. For example a 2 night stay qualifies for a 25% discount, a 3 night stay would get you a 30% discount, and a 4 night stay or longer would save you 45% off the nightly rate. In addition to the discounted room rate, this package gives you a Value Card which can be used for discounts on spa treatments, golf, and bowling.
To check rates and availability for this package, click here.
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel boasts several excellent restaurants and is offering a variety of options throughout the weekend for Thanksgiving dinner and brunch.
Although most Banff hotels are not offering Thanksgiving deals as such, there are many other properties which still have vacancies for Thanksgiving weekend. For a complete list of accommodations in Banff, please visit our hotel, motel or condos & chalets pages.
* The above rates are generally based on double occupancy and are subject to applicable taxes, subject to availability, and subject to change without notice. For current information and for reservations, please click on the links provided.
On Saturday April 9 from 7-9pm, the opening reception for the exhibition White Mountain will take place in the Main Gallery at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff Alberta. The exhibition is a tribute to artist Phil (Gaspar) Michaud (1935 – 2010) who lived and painted in Banff from 1964 to 2001. The exhibition, which runs from April 9 to June 12 2011, documents the journey of an artist from the prairies, through the foothills, to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, and features Phil’s last body of work “White Mountain”.
Also opening the same evening is the exhibition Reckonings: Michael Cameron & Karen Maiolo, featuring the work of 2 contemporary Bow Valley artists.
Short opening speeches introducing both exhibitions will take place in the Main Gallery around 7pm.
For more information about these and other exhibitions at the Whyte Museum, visit www.whyte.org
**Update – it now appears that Will and Kate have in fact included a visit to Banff National Park as part of their Royal Tour, and spent the night of July 6 at a remote hotel near Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.**
It has been announced that Prince William and Kate Middleton will be visiting Canada from June 30 to July 8 2011, just 2 months after their much anticipated Royal Wedding on April 29. Although their Canadian honeymoon schedule is still somewhat vague, it seems certain that they will be ending their tour in Alberta on July 8. The obvious question from the Canadian Rockies is, will the royal couple be paying a visit to Banff, Canada’s own crown jewel? The Canadian Rockies are no strangers to royal visitors, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip having visited in 2005, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. July would be an ideal time to visit Banff National Park, when views of the magnificent mountain peaks and pristine lakes would offer the perfect last impression from the final section of what is sure to be a wonderful tour of Canada. If they do pay a visit, there can be no Banff hotel more fitting for a future king than the Castle in the Rockies, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel where the luxurious Presidential Suite would seem like the obvious choice for the newlyweds.
One thing is for certain, if Will and Kate do spend part of their honeymoon in Banff, it will be a huge boost for tourism in the whole of the Canadian Rockies, as the natural wonders of this region will be seen on TV by millions of people throughout the world.
In addition to Alberta, the royal couple will be visiting Ottawa, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and the North West Territories.