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9 Enchanting Banff Christmas Events

9 Enchanting Banff Christmas Events

Lying underneath the shadows of Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade, the town of Banff is home to incredible restaurants, beautiful hotels and a ton of winter sports and activities. A Banff Christmas is filled with outdoor activities, glittering lights, and plenty of celebrations. Here are the 9 most enchanting Banff Christmas events in 2023 to enjoy on your trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Banff Christmas Events for 2023

In Search of Christmas Spirit

Banff Christmas include the event, In Search of Christmas Spirit
Photo by Banff Lake Louise Tourism – Kelly MacDonald

Grab a lantern and visit a well-loved Banff Christmas event, In Search of Christmas Spirit, held at the Cascade of Time Garden.

This immersive experience takes you through a story beautifully told by illuminated animal sculptures and sound effects. Children and adults alike will be enchanted by the magical trail that winds through the park.

Tickets are required for this event and are available free from Banff Lake Louise Tourism. This Banff Christmas event kicks off on November 17 and concludes on December 31st, 2023.

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Banff Christmas Market

Banff Christmas Market
Photo by Sarah Pittard

Head to Warner Stables in Banff to visit the Banff Christmas Market. Enjoy hot drinks, a visit with Santa, reindeer stables, sleigh rides and incredible shopping.

Local artisans from across Alberta sell Christmas-themed wares along with other creations inspired by life in the Canadian Rockies. Food trucks line an area with tables and fire pits as visitors and locals alike enjoy some hot food and marshmallow roasting.

This year’s market runs from November 17th to the 19th, November 24th to the 26th and December 1st to the 3rd, 2023. Advance tickets are required and can be purchased from the Banff Christmas Market.

Heading to Banff for the holiday season? Make sure to check out the Top 8 Incredible Things to Do in Banff in Winter.

Christmas on the Mountain at Sunshine Village Ski Resort

Santa Skiing at Sunshine Village in Banff
Photo by Sunshine Village

Families enjoying a Banff Christmas will no doubt want to visit Sunshine Village Ski Resort. Only a 15-minute drive from downtown Banff, Sunshine Village and Sunshine Mountain Lodge are located 7,200 feet high on the Continental Divide.

On Christmas Day hit the slopes with Santa himself and quite a few Santa impersonators as Sunshine Village hosts the annual Santa Skis for Charity. Anyone dressed as Santa can obtain a $75 lift ticket with all proceeds going to a local charity.

Sunshine Village night skiing
Photo by Sunshine Village

Later in the day, guests dining at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge can feast on a traditional Christmas dinner while watching specially trained torchbearers put on a nighttime show on the mountain. Sunshine Mountain Lodge is filled with Christmas decorations and live Christmas music during the holidays. Christmas activities and crafts are available for guests of the hotel.

Santa Claus Celebration of Lights

Enchanting Banff Christmas Events
Photo by Paul Zizka Photography

On November 18, 2023, Banff welcomes families to enjoy a festive day of holiday activities and entertainment to kick off the holiday season. The event begins with a full day of celebrations on Banff Avenue. Enjoy talented artists performing on the main stage, surrounded by whimsical street performers, “Santa’s Workshop”, and more magical activities.

As the sun begins to set welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus to the main stage. Santa will host the lighting up of Banff, with many special guest appearances.

Banff’s Hot Chocolate Trail

Banff Christmas Events
Photo by Patrick Fore

It is not a Banff Christmas without some hot chocolate. Banff’s Hot Chocolate Trail runs from November 17 until December 31, 2023. Families can visit over 20 different restaurants and cafes to try over numerous different variations of hot chocolate.

For a special treat, visit Whitebark Cafe to indulge in a Raspberry Ripple Hot Chocolate. This decadent raspberry hot chocolate is made with pure dark chocolate from Thomas Haas, whipped cream and a dusting of raspberries and is served with a pistachio and raspberry biscotti.

Banff Gondola’s Mountain Top Christmas

Banff Gondola at Christmas
Photo by Pursuit / Amanda Hudson Cassell

With epic views of the town of Banff and the surrounding landscape, riding the Banff Gondola is a great activity year-round. During the holidays, the top of Sulphur Mountain becomes a winter wonderland with plenty of Christmas activities and decorations.

Visit with Santa, enjoy a holiday movie screening, decorate freshly baked cookies and have fun doing some holiday crafts. Mountaintop Christmas is open weekends from December 2nd through the 24th and daily from December 25th to the 30th, 2023.

Nightrise at the Banff Gondola

Nightrise at Banff gondola
Photo by Pursuit / by Melissa Rainville

At night, the Banff Gondola comes alive with Nightrise. This incredible event transforms the Banff Gondola into an after-dark spectacular with four digital art installations, vibrant lighting at the top of Sulphur Mountain, video projections and more.

The experience begins as soon as you step foot in the gondola. A hypnotizing voice shares the stories of the night and the Banff landscape in the words of the Stoney Nakoda People who first called Banff home. This unique experience runs from November 18th, 2023 through March 30th, 2024.

Celebrate Christmas at the Castle

Banff Christmas at the Castle
Photo provided by the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

No matter what time of year you visit Banff, it is hard to resist staying at or walking through the historic Fairmont Banff Springs. It is truly not a Banff Christmas, without celebrating Christmas at the Castle.

The hotel transforms into a winter wonderland and offers plenty of activities for revelers of all ages. Enjoy gingerbread house decorating, dinner in Santa’s dining room, holiday crafts and more. Families looking to stay at the hotel can even book a holiday room decorated with a Christmas tree and holiday decorations.

Banff A Christmas Carol
Photo by Carter-Ryan Productions

At night, the Fairmont Banff Springs comes alive with Christmas concerts and a stage performance of A Christmas Carol. Families are invited to join hotel guests and locals alike in the live retelling of this Christmas classic on select nights between December 7th and December 31st. Tickets are available in advance.

Mt. Norquay Torchlight Parade

Mt. Norquay torch parade in Banff
Photo by Mt Norquay

Ring in the New Year with a Banff tradition! Head to Banff Avenue or Bear Street and look up towards the Mt. Norquay Ski Resort at 7:00pm on December 31st, 2023. Watch as Mt. Norquay instructors and staff head down the mountain with torches in hand producing a light show visible from the town.

Looking for more winter fun? Check out these 8 Amazing Places for Snow Tubing in Banff.

Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across North America.

Lead photo provided by Banff Lake Louise Tourism with credit to Orange Girl Photography.