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Annual Events & Festivals in Banff, AB
Bon Appetit Banff (November) - Sweet and savoury, fresh and flavourful, the culinary options in Banff will have your mouth watering before you can say, "Bon Appetit!". Over this ten-day festival, participating restaurants will offer unique three-course menus, including three options per course, at a prix fixe of either $25, $35 or $45.
Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival (November) - the Festival offers a diverse range of experiences for the thousands of people who visit Banff to attend this world-class event. From armchair adventurers to weekend warriors, to the international mountain community – our enthusiastic audience brings the energy to this event!
Ice Magic Festival (January) - Experience Lake Louise at its winter finest during the Ice Magic Festival. Centerpiece to SnowDays, a month-long celebration of winter in Banff National Park.
Rocky Mountain Food & Wine Festival (April) - enjoy a blissful weekend indulging in delectable cuisine from Banff's most popular restaurants, as well as a wide selection of local and international wines, premium spirits, single malt and blended scotches, specialty liqueurs, and import and micro-brewed beer.
Bikefest (June) - up to 500 cyclists from Western Canada and the US participating in five competitive events and two family friendly events, over four days.
Dragon Boat Festival (August) - Mix the excitement of a dragon boat race with the stunning scenery of Banff National Park, and you’ve got a festival as unique as each boat gliding through the water.
RBC Gran Fondo (August) - imagine for one day, the best possible cycling roads are closed to traffic. Before you is an epic route with challenging climbs and thrilling descents. All you have to do is concentrate on the beauty around you.
Banff Subaru Triathlon (September) - Banff National Park is the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a global treasure of natural beauty, wildness, and diversity of life - a beautiful and unique destination for the Subaru Banff Triathlon. Imagine doing a triathlon in such a beautiful spot - one of the most picturesque races in the world.
Lonely Planet Article: The natural wonders of Banff and Jasper National Parks
Written by: Scott Kennedy
In Canada’s Banff and Jasper National Parks, mountains, big mountains, rise above the tree line — grey in the summer and white monoliths of stone in the winter. The wild pines curve up their flanks like a cloak of green. Fast-flowing rivers chart their own course through the hills, curving in among the peaks. Enormous glaciers flow down the peaks and nearly touch the road. Lakes are the colour of turquoise, so blue that you have to wonder if there is something unnatural behind their hue. This is one of the most awe inspiring and scenically overwhelming places on earth.
. But most come simply to look, to stand in awe of the sheer beauty of this amazing place. As you pass through you are under the ever-watchful eye of the animals that call it home. If you are lucky you can check off the Canadian Rockies’ Big Five animal sightings: deer, elk, moose, wolf and bear.
Driving the scenic and sparsely trafficked Hwy 40, you enter blankets of pine forest interspersed with craggy peaks and the odd moose in the verge.
The Icefields Parkway that stretches from Lake Louise to the south and Jasper at the northern end has towering peaks, tumbling unspoiled rivers, massive sheets of glacial ice flowing down the valley to meet the road, and hanging above in the rafters of the peaks. The winding roads are fun to drive as you pass the bluest lakes you’ll ever see, waterfalls gushing with cold melt water and hiking opportunities at every corner. You can put pedal to the metal and cruise the 230km in a few hours, but why would you want to? This is the time to slow down, take in the postcard views and spend time exploring an area of uncompromised beauty.
The Jewel of the Rockies
In a park full of stunning places, Lake Louise may take the top prize. Roughly 60km northwest of Banff Town, this tourist haven is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Rockies’. The lake itself is a robin-egg blue, surrounded by a mountainous amphitheatre of overwhelming grandeur. The Victoria Glacier hangs at the far end, while Mt Temple and the surrounding mountains paint a natural picture that couldn’t have been engineered to be more aesthetically pleasing. The lake is where you will find the Chateau Lake Louise, which, depending upon your opinion, is the best thing since sliced bread or a lump of human intervention dropped into paradise. Nothing is perfect in this world, and the best time to see the lake without the crowds is likely after dark or during a snowstorm. Otherwise get ready for Disneyland.
10-point guide to Banff’s Canadian Rockies
1. Banff Gondola
Catch the eight-minute gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain and you’ll get an unsurpassed panoramic perspective of Banff.
2. The Castle
The discovery of natural hot springs in 1883 eventually led to the establishment of Banff National Park, a vast wilderness that now encompasses 6,641 sq kms (2,564 sq mi). The Banff Springs Hotel opened its doors in 1888 and wealthy European train travelers came for months at a time to “take the waters”. The best view of this landmark hotel is from “Surprise Corner” on Tunnel Mountain.
3. Canada Place
The view of Banff Avenue from the historic Cascade Gardens is probably one of the most recognized photographs of main street and Cascade Mountain, one of the most prominent peaks in the area at 2,998 m (9836 ft.) Canada Place, a free family-friendly attraction.
4. Sunshine Meadows
The Sunshine Meadows are known by many as the most stunning alpine setting in the Canadian Rockies.
5. The Hoodoos
They are giant freestanding pillars several metres tall that are made of silt, gravel and rocks cemented together by dissolved limestone. Sculpted over time by wind and water erosion and protected by a solid cap of rock, the Hoodoos can be found standing guard along the top of Tunnel Mountain. It’s the smallest peak in the Rockies to be called a mountain, at 1,692 m (5551 ft) and originally it was known as “Sleeping Buffalo” among the local Stoney Indians.
6. Vermillion Lakes
This is the perfect place for a picnic lunch on the dock, with stunning views of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain. There are three lakes along this road, where ospreys and bald eagles nest in trees.
7. Lake Minnewanka
It’s the largest lake in Banff National Park at 24 kms (15 mi) long and 142 m (466 ft.) deep. Only scuba divers can view the remnants of a small town called Minnewanka Landing, after a hydroelectric dam built in 1941 caused the lake level to rise by 30 m (98 ft.).
8. Norquay Look-Out
It’s only a few minutes drive up a series of mountain switchbacks, but delivers a view of Banff and the Rockies that will take your breath away.
9. Lake Louise
The turquoise water draws its brilliant colour from the “rock flour,” fine particles of glacial sediment which are suspended in the water that reflect blue and green wavelengths of light because they are so small and uniform. Framed by Mount Victoria and Victoria Glacier, the water temperature only gets a few degrees above freezing in summer. The native’s called it “Ho-run-num-nay” or Lake of Little Fishes.
10. Lake Louise Mountain Resort
It’s a short and lofty lift but it will transport you to another world. A 14-minute ride brings visitors to an elevation of 2,088 m (6,850 ft) on Whitehorn Mountain.