It’s almost Christmas, and soon it’ll be time for our annual pilgrimage to Banff. It’s the best time of the year in Banff, and it’s something we look forward to every year. If you’ve grown up having Christmases in Calgary or abroad and you’re planning to come to Banff for the first time this year, we can guarantee you’re in for a treat! It’s an amazing place to bring the family for the holidays, and the town goes nuts for it.
You might have heard great things about Banff during the holiday season, but we’re guessing if you’re reading this then you’re still looking for a few more ideas. Well, look no further. Whether it’s Christmas dinner, Christmas activities, something for the kids, or even a classy Christmas party, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s our list of everything we think you need to know when it comes to the holiday season in Banff. So first things first.. Where to have Christmas dinner?
Christmas dinner in Banff:
Christmas dinner is a big one. Everyone wants a turkey dinner but what if you don’t know where to look? Fortunately, Taxi Mike (an amazing resource for Banff) has done the hard work so that you (and we) don’t have to. Here’s a link to his amazing list of restaurants, hotels and clubs that are putting on something special for Christmas and the holiday season. It also posts their holiday hours, links to the menus if you want to check them out, and even posts whether or not they’re wheelchair accessible!
The Alhambra Supper Club:
If you’re looking for something particularly classy for Christmas dinner (adults only), you might want to throw on your black tie and try the Alhambra Supper Club at the Fairmont. Sit down to an incredible five course dinner with all the trimmings (be warned, it’s steak not turkey), and be serenaded by a 5 piece orchestra and an incredible singer. It’s an amazing evening, (super romantic if you want to just go as a couple) and you’ll be treated to some Sinatra classics while you eat. After dinner there’s dancing, and why not take the opportunity to explore the amazing castle while you’re at it. We’ve done this twice now, and I think it’s one of my favourite Christmas traditions. At a whopping $249 per person, it’ll set you back a fair bit, but we can promise you it’ll be a Christmas you’ll never forget! Call + 1 403 762 2211 for reservations.
Brewster’s Country Christmas Dinner and Dance:
If you’re still looking for something unique for a festive dinner in Banff, then you might want to try Brewster’s Country Christmas Dinner and Dance, out by Lake Louise. This is a country themed BBQ and hoedown with a Christmas theme at the Brewster Lake Louise Dance Barn. The dinner starts with a Christmas sleigh ride from the Chateau Lake Louise hotel at 6.30pm, and returns you back there afterwards. You’re then given a western BBQ Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, and the evening is rounded off with a live Country/Rock band where you can line dance the evening away.
At $60 per adult and $30 per child, this a more reasonable reasonable dinner option if you’re still looking for something different. Dinners run on the 23rd, 26th and 29th Dec this year, and again, we’d recommend calling ASAP to get a reservation. Email [email protected] or call 403.522.3511.
All we’ll say here is that you might want to think about booking your dinner ASAP if you haven’t already, whatever you decide to do. Christmas gets a bit crazy in Banff, and you don’t want to get caught out with nowhere to go!
So hopefully now you’ve got the Christmas dinners covered, what else can you do in the holiday season?
Christmas events at Sunshine Village and Norquay:
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the family, then skiing is always a great idea.
Santa is never hard to find at Sunshine Village, and this year he’s making appearances on Dec 19th, 20th and 25th. He’ll be in the main lobby between 12 and 1pm, and you can find him skiing the Strawberry chair from 1.30pm to 3pm.
If you’re up Sunshine on Christmas day, you also have the option of having dinner on the mountain. Reservations can be made for Christmas dinner at the Eagle’s nest restaurant in the hotel (although there’s limited availability now) or you can drop in for dinner at Chimney Corner. While the hotel has been booked up since October, if you’re already up the mountain, it might be a great way to end a fantastic Christmas Day.
Obviously skiing is also a great day out, and don’t forget to check out the new heated TeePee Town chairlift!
If you’ve already planned to stay in Sunshine Mountain Lodge over Christmas then there are tons of events to look forward to once the ski lifts have closed for the night; including tobogganing, snowshoeing, gingerbread house building and a torchlight parade.
If you’ve got a spare Santa outfit lying around, then Norquay offers a “Santa shreds for free deal”. Turn up in a Santa outfit and get a free lift pass! …. NB. It has to be the full outfit (either Santa, a reindeer or an elf). Christmas hat doesn’t count!
Christmas at the Castle:
So we’ve already mentioned the Christmas dinner at the Fairmont, but there are several other events at the Fairmont over the Christmas period that don’t require you to be a guest. Here’s a list of some of the events that are open to non- guests. (Most events do require reservations, and a discussion with the hotel concierge suggests that spaces for some events are running out fast – especially the Brunch with Santa event!).
- Brunch with Santa : Dec 19th and 20th 11am – 2pm ($42 for adults, $25.50 for children)
- Wine Tasting: 2pm – 6pm ($20 per person) –
What’s on offer every day varies. We’ve tried the mead and ham event and it was great! It’s only a small tasting, so we wouldn’t recommend heading out to Banff just for this, but if you’re already in town it would definitely be worth checking out.
December 20 – Port
December 21 – Champagne and Shortbread
December 22 – Roast Turkey and Riesling
December 23 – Port and Pudding
December 24 – Ice Wine and Cheese
December 26 – Ham and Mead
December 27 – Scotch
December 28 – Bubbles
December 29 – Cabernet
December 30 – Cognac and Chocolate
December 31 – Best of Canada
These are all adults only – call 1 403 – 762 – 6860 for reservations.
- Cookie Decorating:
Dec 21st – 12pm – 2pm ($42 per dozen cookies) + 1 403 762 2211 Reservations required
- Gingerbread house workshop:
December 22 at 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm ($55 per house) + 1 403 762 2211. Reservations required
Check out our post on a classy day out in Banff for more information on how to rent ice skates and where to go!
Carriage rides around Banff:
If you’re looking for something very wintery, a ride around Banff in a horse and cart might be something fun to try! Rides range from 15 minutes to 1 hour and leave from outside the Mount Royal Hotel. Check their website for more details and prices!
If you’re looking for something active and are keen to do some exploring while you’re in Banff, you could always check out two of the most popular winter walks in the area; The Johnston Canyon ice walk, or the Grotto Canyon winter walk. Feel free to check out our recent posts see if they’re of interest!
New Year’s Eve:
If you plan to stay in Banff after Christmas, and through to New Year’s eve, Banff is an amazing place to be! Check out our post on New Year in Banff to see how to really make the most of the evening. From Fancy dinners to the midnight street party, there’s something for everyone to do!
If you haven’t got all your gifts already, there are loads of places to do your last minute Christmas shopping in Banff. The spirit of Christmas is a great store to check out for various Christmas items (it’s a year round Christmas store) – great for unique Christmas decorations and ornaments. There are also heaps of great souvenir stores in Banff too. If you’re looking for gifts unique to Alberta but aren’t interested in the normal kitsch touristy stuff, picking up some Alberta Jade or some ammolite jewellery are two things you can’t really get anywhere else! We’ve found that Cascade gifts on the high street has a good selection.
Hopefully that should be enough to get you through the holiday season! Feel free to get in touch at [email protected] if you need any more tailored help for sorting out your holiday plans or if you think we’ve missed anything out!
However you end up spending your time in Banff, we wish you a fantastic holiday season, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!