We might be a little bit biased, but we think winter in Banff National Park should be experienced by every Canadian at least once.
The snow-capped mountains, the multitude of festivals, the gigantic fireplaces and toasty mugs of hot chocolate – spending some time in this winter wonderland is like being transported to the set of the most romantic holiday movie you could ever imagine, and then some.
The best thing about winter in the Canadian Rockies is that there is something for everyone. Want to curl up with a good book and forget about the cold outside? You can do that. Want to climb a frozen waterfall? You can do that. Want to eat your way into hibernation? You can do that, too.
Check out a few of our favourite things to do in Banff National Park in winter:
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Taking a skate on frozen Lake Louise guarantees one of the most memorable experiences you can have on blades. The rink has been named one of the most beautiful in the world by CNN Travel. You can bring your own skates or rent them from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
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The Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise is truly amazing. Ice artists from around the world are invited to partake, and there are plenty of free activities for the whole family. The 2017 festival is slated from Jan. 19-29.
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You haven't had a true Canadian experience until you've been pulled behind a dogsled surrounded by spectacular mountain vistas.
More info on dogsledding here.
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Banff National Park features some gorgeous waterfalls that take on a whole new level of beauty once they freeze for the winter. The Lower Falls at Johnston Canyon is a stunning example.
There's something that is just so romantic about the Fairmont Banff Springs in winter. It's quiet, beautifully decorated, and offers a private escape for anyone who just wants to sit back and watch the snow fall. Plus, there's a large selection of restaurants and bars in which to indulge.
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Who can forget about the world class ski hills on offer in Banff National Park? Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay all offer slopes for any ability, as well other opportunities like tubing, cross-country skiing and guided tours.
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If downhill skiing isn't quite your thing, there's always cross country skiing. The Canmore Nordic Centre, just outside Banff National Park, has awesome trails, and is the home base for many top-tier athletes who come to Canada in the winter to train.
About an hour up the TransCanada Highway from the Fairmont Banff Springs is its sister hotel, The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is more quiet and secluded than the Banff Springs, and offers the perfect place to snuggle up with a good book and a glass of wine.
Taking a dip in a hot spring feels incredible against the cold mountain air. The Banff Upper Hot Springs can be very busy in the afternoon and evening, so do as the locals do and visiting in the morning for peak relaxation.
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For the truly adventurous, Banff National Park offers amazing opportunities for winter hiking and rock climbing. But you don't have to be a pro to scale a wall of ice. The MEC Ice Climbing Festival in January offers beginners a chance to climb a man-made ice wall in the Banff townsite, under the close supervision of professionals.
For those who'd rather watch professionals tackle the slopes, the Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup offers spectators a front row seat to the action of world-class ski racing. The world's fastest racers compete against each other on this World Cup circuit event. It's the only event of its kind in Canada and is thrilling to watch.
Click here for tickets and more info.
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With so few winter daylight hours in Banff, catching breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in Banff National Park is easy. Don't forget your camera!
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Many people visit Banff National Park hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife. It's never a sure bet, and the bears won't be seen for the winter, but the highways and backroads are less busy during this time of year, meaning you might have a better chance of catching a glimpse of a wolf, elk or deer.
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One of the best ways to truly discover Banff National Park is to set out on snowshoe. You can ditch the popular trails of hikers and skiers, and find your own secret slice of winter wonderland. Don't forget to check avalanche conditions before you head out, though.
More on snowshoeing in Banff National Park.