Looking for the best things to see and do in Banff in December?
A white Christmas in the mountains is a dream for guests and a reality for locals in Banff. The quintessential Christmas destination comes alive with ice rinks, carolers, lights, and sleigh rides. Take a snowy sleigh ride from Banff’s Warner Stables, skate on a frozen lake or fly down Alberta’s largest tube park. Sitting in a sleigh is romantic, warm, and cozy – and it’s even better behind trained sled dogs. Dogsledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides book up quick so reserve in advance to avoid disappointment!
1. Take a snowy sleigh ride
Is there anything more magical than a winter sleigh ride in the Canadian Rockies? Grab your family, friends and loved ones and take a 40-minute snowy ride through Banff’s mountain meadows. Groups of up to four people can enjoy a private family sleigh ride and snuggle up under warm blankets. For that special occasion, take a private sleigh ride just for two on a one-horse open sleigh complete with delicious alcoholic beverages, a warm blanket (yours to keep!) and a s’mores kit to enjoy by the fire after your ride.
2. Skate on a frozen lake
As winter sets in the lakes freeze and some are even set up as outdoor ice skating rinks! Timing can vary but typically ice skating season starts in mid December, so grab your skates or rent them in Banff – we recommend Snowtips in town who will give you a discount if you mention us. Our favourite spots are Lake Louise, the Banff High School grounds and the Vermillion Lawn at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (skate rentals are available at nearby Chateau Mountain Sports).
3. Experience the thrill of dogsledding
Have you felt the thrill of mushing your own sled along a snowy trail with the wind in your hair and mountain peaks in every direction? This is the most popular winter activity – and dogsledding tours can book out months in advance so we highly recommend booking ahead! In December guests can choose from an instructor-driven sled on the 1.5 hour Great Divide Dogsledding Tour in Lake Louise, and an instructor-driven or self-driven sled on the 2 hour Powder Hound Express Dogsledding Tour in Spray Lakes, near Canmore.
4. Slide down Alberta’s largest tube park
Opening in mid December, Mt Norquay is located 10 minutes from Banff (with a free shuttle bus from downtown Banff) and is home to Alberta’s largest tube park! With eight lanes of high speed fun, jump on the magic carpet with your inflatable snow tube and hold on tight as you slide, spin and speed across the snow.
5. Get into the Christmas spirit
Bundle up and get into the holiday mood at the new In Search of Christmas Spirit production, a live Christmas story delivered by a sensory extravaganza of light and sound at Cascade Gardens. This free event runs on various evenings throughout the month of December, and requires tickets to be booked in advance.
6. Stomp through fresh snow
Have you run through fresh, deep powdery snow? The Canadian Rockies is the perfect place for snowshoeing, and playing in the snow is an experience like no other. Take a half day snowshoeing tour with a friendly local guide who will show you how to walk in our easy-to-use snowshoes, as you explore winding forest trails and open snowy areas of fresh powder.
As winter sets in, Banff becomes a winter wonderland in December with Christmas celebrations, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, dogsledding, tubing and more snowy fun.
December to March is the most popular time to visit Banff in winter. Ski season is in full force, with plenty of other snowy activities including dogsledding, snowshoeing, tubing and more.
Banff is transformed into a winter wonderland with spectacular snowy scenery and plenty of fun-filled activities including sightseeing flights, dogsledding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and more.
As winter sets in the lakes freeze and some are set up as outdoor ice skating rinks from mid December. Our favourites are Lake Louise and the Banff High School.
There’s lots of snowshoeing trails in Banff National Park, please check trail conditions with Parks Canada or join a small-group snowshoeing tour from Banff.
Get into the festive spirit in Banff with Christmas celebrations including theatre performances, carol singers, horse-drawn sleigh rides and decorations throughout the town.