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 a Banff Icewalk or admire intricate snow sculptures at the SnowDays festival. No matter what adventure you choose, you’ll be happy you ventured outside.
1. See incredible ice and snow sculptures
In late January, Lake Louise is home to the world-class Ice Magic Festival where ice sculptors from all over the world come to compete. Visit on select days to see them carve into huge blocks of ice, or simply marvel in the finished sculptures. Also, don’t miss the massive snow sculptures and surrounding celebrations in downtown Banff at the annual SnowDays festival.
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. Public access to Johnston Canyon is currently closed, so join our guided icewalks for exclusive access to these frozen falls. Looking for a truly authentic winter hike? Our other 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 mid March)
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? Take a day ski trip from Banff on the Kicking Horse Powder Express that includes a full day of skiing at one of the most thrilling ski resorts in North America and return transport for less than the price as a lift ticket alone.
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 on a half or full-day snowmobiling tour in Panorama and Golden, BC – no experience needed!
6. Spend a Day at Mt Norquay
Mt Norquay is Banff’s closest ski hill and with tubing, snowshoeing, skiing and more there’s something for everyone! Spend your morning exploring your choice of their 60 runs, then grab an inflatable tube and experience Alberta’s largest tubing park for yourself as you fly down a snow covered hill.
Banff is a winter wonderland in January with welcomed snowfalls and cold temperatures. It’s a skiers paradise with other winter activities including ice sculptures, icewalks, snowmobiling, tubing and more.
Each January Lake Louise is home to the Ice Magic Festival, a world-class ice sculpting competition where visitors can see ice sculptures come to life from huge blocks of ice.
Each January there are snow sculptures throughout downtown Banff during the SnowDays Festival. Watch talented sculptors create works of art from large blocks of snow and enjoy the surrounding celebrations.
Snowmobiling is not permitted in national parks, but there is snowmobiling in Golden and Panorama, in British Columbia, approximately two hours from Banff.
Banff is home to three ski resorts, Mt Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine, and is a great base for other popular ski hills including Panorama and Kicking Horse Mountain Resorts.
Banff is a skier’s paradise, but there’s also plenty of other winter fun including snow tubing, snowshoeing, icewalks to frozen waterfalls, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, the Banff Gondola and more.