Photo Credit: Devaan Ingraham / Banff & Lake Louise Tourism
Looking for the best things to see and do in Banff in January?
Winter is in full-force with our welcomed snowfalls, cold temperatures, and the entire National Park is transformed into a quintessential Canadian winter wonderland. Nature vs sculpture – true winter adventure sparkles in January’s ice creations formations. Choose between the natural billowing frozen waterfalls on our Banff Icewalk or world-class ice sculptures at the Ice Magic Festival, viewable on our Discover Lake Louise Tour. No matter what adventure you choose, you’ll be happy you ventured outside.
1. See incredible ice and snow sculptures
Set over two weeks in late January, the annual Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise is a world-class ice carving event where you can watch competitors from all over the world sculpt works of art from 300lb blocks of solid ice. Need transport during this popular event? The daily full-day Discover Lake Louise Tour from Banff gives you four hours of free time at Lake Louise to enjoy ice skating, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and more! Happening at the same time of year in Banff, don’t miss the massive snow sculptures in downtown Banff at the annual SnowDays festival complete with a pop-up outdoor cocktail event.
2. See frozen falls on a winter hike
As temperatures cool, waterfalls turn into glittering pillars of ice. Our most popular winter hike takes visitors to Johnston Canyon, where you can take a guided icewalk all the way to the upper falls during the day, or by the light of your headlamp to the lower falls in the night. Looking for a truly authentic winter hike? Our favourite Banff Icewalk is the Grotto Canyon Icewalk, where you’ll walk through the canyon on a frozen creek bed (wearing ice cleats to keep you steady) and discover ancient pictographs and glittering frozen falls. Plus there’s delicious hot chocolate to keep you warm!
3. Stargaze on a mountain summit (late January to early April)
The Banff Gondola at Sulphur Mountain is Banff’s most popular attraction, but did you know that in winter you can stargaze at 7,500 feet? On Friday and Saturday evenings the Alpenglow Festival gives you the chance to see the rose coloured glow on the surrounding snow-capped peaks as the sun descends and then marvel at the dark skies and luminous stars. This event is included with regular admission and includes live music, s’mores, rooftop firepits and professional telescopes.
4. Take a day ski trip (for less than the price of a lift ticket alone)
Skiing is one of the biggest reasons that people visit Banff National Park in the winter, and there’s several world-class ski resorts just a short drive or shuttle bus from downtown Banff.
Looking to escape the crowds or simply ski somewhere new? Choose from two great day ski trips from Banff that include a full day of skiing in BC and return transport for less than the price as a lift ticket alone. The daily Kicking Horse Powder Express takes you to one of the most thrilling ski resorts in North America, while the shuttle to Panorama Mountain Resort runs three times a week and is perfect for families or groups with a range of experience levels. Or for those seeking an exhilarating backcountry ski experience, the closest heli-skiing to Banff is in the majestic Purcell mountain range.
5. Zoom through the snow on a snowmobile
Is there a greater thrill than zooming through fresh snow on a powerful 600cc snowmobile? Follow your friendly guide along scenic trails with panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies, stopping for a delicious alpine bbq lunch.
Choose from two full-day snowmobiling tours both with transport from Banff – no experience needed! Or for those with experience, try the Powder X advanced snowmoblling tour and head into the backcountry.
6. Spend a Day at Mt Norquay
Mt Norquay is Banff’s closest ski hill and with tubing, sightseeing, snowshoeing, skiing and more there’s something for everyone! Spend your morning exploring your choice of their 60 runs, before taking the sightseeing chairlift up to the viewing deck at 7,000′ overlooking the town of Banff. Then, grab an inflatable tube and experience Alberta’s largest tubing park for yourself as you fly down a snow covered hill. Did we mention that there’s the option to enjoy a local craft beer or a glass of wine at 6,900′ at the charming Cliffhouse Bistro once visited by Marilyn Munroe?