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Banff SnowDays Winter Festival

Banff National Park can be described as a winter wonderland during the winter months in this snow covered valley. If you are lucky enough to visit Banff in January, then you’ll want to come during the Banff SnowDays Winter Festival, which takes place in January each year.

SnowDays in Banff is the perfect time to put on your warmest winter clothes and enjoy the many outdoor winter activities. You’ll find downtown Banff transformed during the festival and winter festival activities as far as Lake Louise.

Banff SnowDays Winter Festival
“Spreading Joy” Created by Susanne Ruseler & David Ducharme from the Kootenays, BC.

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When is the SnowDays Winter Festival in Banff

The SnowDays Banff festival takes place in Banff National Park for 12 days each January, typically around the third week of the month. The SnowDays festival in 2022 runs from January 19 to January 30th.

Man Carving Snow Sculptures at Banff Snow Days

What is the Banff SnowDays Winter Festival

The annual SnowDays celebration in Banff treats visitors to some fun events and exhilarating activities. Most of the activities during the festival will take place in the town of Banff.

In the first few days of the festival, both ice and snow sculptors will wow onlookers with the impressive detail. While that’s one of the main parts of Banff’s winter festival, here is what you can expect around Banff & Lake Louise during the 12 day festival.

Snow Sculptors at Snow Days - Banff National Park

Banff Snow Sculptures

On the streets of downtown Banff, Canadian sculptors will impress you with carved snow sculptures made from giant blocks of snow. The best way to enjoy the snow sculptures in Banff is to grab a coffee or hot chocolate while you walk along Bear Street taking the time to take in each snow sculpture.

Seeing the Banff snow sculptures is free of charge.

Ice Magic in Lake Louise

Equally impressive, is Ice Magic, a world class ice carving competition at Lake Louise. Ice Magic is part of the SnowDays festival and also takes part in the first few days of this 12 day festival. You won’t want to miss seeing the sparkling ice sculptures at Lake Louise! (Ice Magic was cancelled for 2022)

Lake Louise Ice Sculpture from Ice Magic Festival

Banff SnowDays Play Zone

The Banff SnowDays Play Zone takes place at the Banff High School Field and is the perfect place to try something new! There are new winter activities to try each year, so always check out the official list of events for the SnowDays Play Zone.

A few years ago, we took our kids to the Play Zone where they had the option to try downhill skiing or snowboarding with the help of volunteers at the event.

Girl skiing at Snow Days Play Zone in Banff

In 2022, the events in the SnowDays Play Zone include a snow climbing wall, ice and snowslides, a sledding hill, and a fat bike track. You can even try out cross country skiing at the Play Zone. Rentals (fat tire bikes, helmets, sleds, snow tubes and cross country skis) for use in the Play Zone are available and free.

Banff SnowDays Play Zone - 2022

Banff’s SnowDays Play Zone is open for the duration of the winter festival (January 19-30 in 2022). To enter the Play Zone, head to the corner of Wolf Street & Banff Avenue. It’s typically free to enter and enjoy the activities in the Play Zone. You can also find snowshoe and fat bike rentals here.

The SnowDays Play Zone is open weekdays from 4 pm to 8 pm and on weekends from 12pm to 8pm.

Boy looking at skating in Banff
Skating Rink in Banff

Skijoring in Banff

Imagine skiing behind a horse and hitting jumps? For just one day during the SnowDays festival, you’ll get to watch these ski stunts up close! (Cancelled for 2022)

Tribute Craft Spirits Festival

Through specialty cocktails on menus in local bars and restaurants in Banff, you’ll get to experience spirits the from best craft distilleries in Alberta and British Columbia. The special cocktail menus will be available at participating venues throughout the 12 days of the festival.

Come enjoy a 2 day outdoor tasting event on January 28th and 29th on Bear Street (postponed for 2022). Learn more about Tribute Craft Spirits Celebration.

Other Things to do During SnowDays Winter Festival

While the SnowDays festival in Banff is the perfect reason to come to Banff for a vacation, you’ll find there’s so much more you can do in Banff in winter.

View of Bear Stree in Banff with Snow Sculptures

These easy winter hikes in Banff are perfect for enjoying the frozen wonderland and taking in the scenery. If you want to get the some of the best views, head up the Banff Gondola. Don’t forget to save some time to rent snowshoes for all the incredible snowshoe trails in Banff.

Enjoy a quintessential Canadian experience skating on a frozen lake in Banff. One of the best free things to do in Banff in winter is skating on Lake Louise.

Lake Louise snowshoes trails are also well worth it. We like to combine snowshoeing at Lake Louise with a skate around the ice castle after.

If you’ve just learned to cross country ski at the SnowDays Play Zone, get away from the crowds on one of these easy cross country ski trails in Banff and the surrounding area.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for your SnowDays holiday! Banff is home to three world-class ski resorts. Even if you’ve never skied, take a lesson at one of the ski resorts so you can truly enjoy skiing in Banff. If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, try out the Norquay Tube Park or the Sunny Tube Park at the Lake Louise ski resort.

Finally, book yourself a dog sledding tour or a horse drawn sleigh ride to cap off an incredible winter getaway in the mountains!

Horse draw Sleigh ride at Lake Louise at Christmas

Where to Stay in Banff during SnowDays

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Banff SnowDays Winter Festival - Here's what you need to know about visiting Banff during this annual 12 day winter festival.