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.
What You’ll Find in This Article on the Banff SnowDays Winter Festival:
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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 2024 runs from January 19 to February 4th.
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.
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 and can be seen at anytime (even at night when they are lit up). We always start on Bear Street then make our way to the Whyte Museum over to Banff Ave to make sure we catch them all!
2022 Snow Sculptures at Banff Snow Days
2023 Snow Sculptures in Banff for Snow Days
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! The Ice Magic Festival takes place on January 26 to 28th (this is when the ice carving competition is held) and February 2 to 4th. Tickets are required and a complimentary shuttle is also required to attend the event.
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.
Past events in the SnowDays Play Zone included 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’s SnowDays Play Zone is open for the duration of the winter festival (January 19 to February 4th in 2024). 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 Wednesday to Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm and on weekends from 12pm to 8pm.
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! This event is planned for January 20, 2024 at 11 am and 3pm.
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.
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.
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!
Where to Stay in Banff during SnowDays
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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.
As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.