Information and things to do and see in Banff in December
A white Christmas in the mountains is a dream for guests and a reality for locals every December in Banff. Banff truly comes alive as the quintessential Christmas destination, with ice rinks, carolers, lights, and so much more. Embrace the season by taking a snowy sleigh ride, skating on a frozen lake, going dog sledding, or flying down Alberta’s largest tube park. But before we explore all the wonders of Banff at Christmas time, we need to address the information you need to know to enjoy it.
Banff’s weather in December
Banff’s weather in December creates the perfect environment for stunning blankets of snow with average temperatures of -5℃ to -14℃. We’ve seen it get colder, so come prepared! Luckily, the sun does come out most days in December, making the chilly temperatures feel a little warmer.
What to pack for your trip to Banff in December
There’s no doubt that you will want to pack lots of layers and snow-ready attire. For starters, you will want a thick winter coat, a hat (in Canada we call this a toque), gloves, a scarf, warm socks, and a pair of winter boots. Underneath all of that warmth, you will also want thermal layers to keep in the heat. Sweaters and warm pants are a must! For more information about what to pack, you can check out our Banff seasonal packing guide.
1. Take a snowy sleigh ride
There is nothing more magical than a winter sleigh ride in the Canadian Rockies. Especially when you get to share it with those you love. So, grab your family, friends, and loved ones and enjoy Banff in all of its winter beauty on a 40-minute sleigh ride through Banff’s mountain meadows. You can choose between a private sleigh ride, a family sleigh ride, or a romantic sleigh ride with your significant other. This adventure is what holiday dreams are made of!
2. Ice skate on a frozen lake
As winter sets in, the lakes freeze, and some transition to outdoor ice skating rinks! The timing can vary but typically ice skating season starts in mid-December, so grab your skates or rent them in Banff! Our favourite spots to ice skate are Lake Louise and the Fenlands in Banff. The jaw-dropping backdrop alone makes the experience worth it!
Tip: If you are planning on renting skates in Banff, we recommend Snowtips in town! They will give you a discount if you mention that Discover Banff Tours sent you!
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? If not, we are here to tell you, it’s a must-do. Dogsledding is easily one of the most popular things to do in Banff in December and tours can sell out months in advance, so we highly recommend booking ahead. You can choose from a tour with an instructor-driven sled, or a self-driven sled depending on the tour you pick! Either option is a blast.
4. Visit Lake Louise in December
Experiencing Lake Louise in December is like stepping into a real-life snow globe. The snowy mountains are the perfect backdrop to this amazing ice-covered alpine lake. There are many ways to see it and enjoy it, including snowshoeing and by dogsled. You can’t go wrong in this winter wonderland.
5. Slide down Alberta’s largest tube park
Looking for some high-speed fun while in Banff in December? Opening mid-month, Mt Norquay is home to Alberta’s largest tube park! Located just 10 minutes from Banff, (with a free shuttle bus from downtown Banff), it’s super easy to get to and with eight lanes of high-speed fun, it’s even easier to enjoy! Get ready to jump on the magic carpet with your inflatable snow tube and hold on tight as you slide, spin, and speed across the snow!
6. Enjoy the best things to do in Banff at Christmas
Soak up the Christmas spirit and get into the holiday mood at the 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. You can also celebrate Banff in Christmas by going to a live performance of A Christmas Carol at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, as part of the Christmas At The Castle festive activities. Last but not least, you can get a stunning view of Banff with Mountaintop Christmas at the top of Sulphur Mountain when you take the Banff Gondola!
7. Stomp through fresh snow
There is nothing like snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies. The deep powdery snow is perfect for snowshoeing and playing around. You can explore the majesty of Banff in December with a half-day snowshoeing tour that provides you with easy-to-use snowshoes and a friendly local guide that will lead you through winding forest trails and open snowy areas of sparkling fresh powder.
Whether you’re in Banff in December to marvel at the snow-covered peaks or to experience all the unique things that Banff has to offer during Christmas, you will feel the holiday spirit and make adventurous memories to last a lifetime. We can’t wait for you to experience our winter wonderland.
Is your time in Banff starting in November or extending into January? Check out our recommendations for What To Do In Banff In November and What To Do In Banff In January! For more information and exploration of Banff, visit our blog.
Have More Questions About Traveling to Banff in December? We have Answers.
What is there to do in Banff in December?
As winter sets in, Banff becomes a winter wonderland in December with Christmas celebrations, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, dogsledding, tubing, and more snowy fun.
Is December a good time to visit Banff?
December is a great time to visit Banff! December to March is the peak of Banff’s winter tourist season. During this time, ski season is in full force, with plenty of other snowy activities including dogsledding, snowshoeing, tubing, and more.
Is Banff too cold in December?
It’s definitely chilly in Banff in December, with average temperatures of -5℃ to -14℃, but with the right outdoor apparel and layers, you will have everything you need to enjoy it to the fullest! The sun shines often in December, giving some extra warmth as well. For more information about what to pack, you can check out our Banff seasonal packing guide.
Is Banff worth visiting in winter?
Yes! 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.
What can you do in Banff if you don’t ski in the winter?
There are a ton of ways to enjoy Banff in the winter, it’s not just limited to skiing. You can go dogsledding, snowshoeing, tubing, and even for a sleigh ride!
Is Lake Louise frozen in December?
Yes, Lake Louise is frozen in December and it’s stunning! With a snow-peaked backdrop, it’s great for ice skating, snowshoeing, dogsledding, and just soaking up the views!
Where can you ice skate in Banff?
As winter sets in the lakes freeze and some are set up as outdoor ice skating rinks starting in mid-December. Our favourites are Lake Louise and the Fenlands Center in Banff.
Where can I snowshoe in Banff?
There are lots of snowshoeing trails in Banff National Park, please check trail conditions with Parks Canada or join a small-group snowshoeing tour from Banff.
What is there to do in Banff at Christmas time?
Get into the festive spirit in Banff with Christmas celebrations including theatre performances, carol singers, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and decorations throughout the town.
Can you see the northern lights in Banff in December?
December is actually one of the best times to see the northern lights in Banff! They shine brightest from December to February and are best seen on nights with clear skies. Ask our Discover Banff Guides for the best locations to view them.
How many days is enough for Banff?
To hit all of the best things to do while in Banff, we recommend visiting for around five days. There is just so much to see and five days will give you enough time to marvel at Banff’s must-sees.