11 Things You Can Do At Banff’s Breathtaking "Winter Wonderland" Festival
Hot springs, ice sculptures and a whole lot more!
Ah, winter. It can be all too easy to say that you straight-up hate winter. After all, snow and ice are the worst ... right?
Well, actually no! Not if you know how to celebrate the right way; and one spot in Canada just so happens to know exactly how to celebrate winter so, so right.
The Ice Magic Festival, located in Lake Louise, Alberta, has been going down every year for the last 23 years. And trust, they know exactly how to use the snow, ice and cold to transform Lake Louise into a magical, mystical winter wonderland.
Celebrating the artistry that is ice carving, this awesome Canadian event (happening January 18 - 28, 2018) features GLORIOUS ice sculptures; a competition and award ceremony; an ice bar and other culinary adventures; ice skating; and legit tons of things to do!
So strap yourself in and get yourself to this wonderful festival. Whether you're getting there by car, plane or train, the adventure and wonder that awaits at Lake Louise are seriously impressive!
Stay in a real life, legitimate winter wonderland castle
Lake Louise has tons of gorgeous spots to stay in, whether you're there for the Ice Magic Festival or not. One beautiful spot in particular, though, just so happens to be a castle.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is incredibly beautiful and the surroundings look like they come straight out of a snow globe. It's been around for over 100 years, so you know they know what they're doing.
Plus, when you stay here (or any other Lake Louise area hotel) during the Ice Magic Festival, you get your tickets to the festival for free! That's like the awesome cherry on top of an already awesome sundae!
Then grab your ice skates and glide through the ice
Honestly, ice skating is quite possibly one of the most magical winter activities anyone could do. Ever. But ice skating on Lake Louise and around an icy chateau and other frozen works of art? Yeah. That's a whole other level of amazing.
Which is exactly why ice skating at the Ice Magic Festival is one experience you're absolutely going to want to participate in. So while you're taking a break from enjoying the beautiful frozen festivities, lace up your skates, get out there and have a magical time gliding across the ice!
Check out the true star of the show: the ice carving!
After all, the Ice Magic Festival is here to highlight one thing: the magic of ice! Top ice carvers from all over the world come to compete at the festival's International Ice Carving Competition, and the result is a frozen wonderland full of icy works of art.
This expansive sculpture site takes place around the prestigious Chateau Lake Louise, and features ice carvings from the world's top ice artists. Last year, there were all sorts of sculptures to celebrate Canada's 150th and this year, we can only imagine what magic the festival has in store for us!
And then cozy up with your loved ones, and tour Lake Louise on an actual sleigh
You can get all comfy and cozy under a blanket with your loved ones in a traditional sleigh, and watch the mesmerizing sights of the Canadian Rockies as you glide through a lake-side trail. The tours are incredibly charming, and add an extra bit of adventure to an already unreal winter trip!
Bubble your stress away at the infamous Banff Hot Springs
Straight-up, if you're going to be anywhere near Banff, then it's always a fantastic idea to stop by the Banff Hot Springs.
This natural hot spring is famous all over the world for its relaxing nature and for breathtaking view, which honestly makes it perfect way to warm up and relax after seeing all the glorious frozen sights!
Then strap yourself in for some winter hiking
Relaxing is great and all, but if you like your festivals with a side of adventure, then good news! Lake Louise is basically an adventure sandwich, with a side of thrills.
And to really feed your wild side, Lake Louise has tons of wintertime sports to participate in - like ice hiking. There's no better spot in the entire country to go hiking than Banff and Lake Louise, whether it's the first day of summer or deep winter.
In the wintertime, there are still a lot of spots to go for a hike... but the important thing to do is stay safe. Wearing extra layers and using ice cleats/snowshoes are two great ways to say safe during your winter hike, but make sure you know exactly what you need to do before you head out!
Do not forget to relive your favorite childhood winter pastime: tubing!
No joke, tubing is maybe the most fun human beings can have with snow and a tube. There's something exhilarating about flying down the slopes while sitting in a rubber donut; it's the perfect activity for thrill-seekers and people who prefer chilling alike!
And, of course, there are tons of spots to go tubing around Lake Louise. Sunny Tube Park - at the Lake Louise Ski Resort - is awesome for tubing in particular, so take a break from the breathtaking sites at the Ice Magic Festival and prepare to have your breath taken away by sheer adrenaline!
Go for a ride on the gondola and see the beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies
Sometimes, you just want to be awe-struck by views so beautiful your eyes can't even comprehend what they're seeing. And Lake Louise was basically created for moments like this.
Lake Louise is expansive and gorgeous. You can take a break from checking out the impressive ice sculptures to check out the impressive natural scenery very easily thanks to its gondolas.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort gondola offers an unparalleled view of the area. It takes you 2,088 metres into the air and offers beautiful sights of Victoria Glacier. So sit back, relax and prepare to be blown away!
Or, if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, snowshoe around Lake Louise
Winter hiking and gondola rides are fantastic, but what if you want to really explore the ground during the wintertime?
Well fear not. Lake Louise has multiple opportunities trails for snowshoeing and even offers guided snowshoe tours for people of all skill levels. Honestly, spending your mornings viewing beautiful, icy works of art, and spending your afternoon learning a brand new skill/exploring Lake Louise in a whole new way? That sounds pretty amazing!
Then slide on through the beautiful cross-country ski trails throughout the area
Cross-country skiers, you already know how much fun it is to take in the scenery while gliding through nothing but packed powder.
But for those of us who maybe have yet to experience the wonder that is cross-country skiing, good news. Lake Louise has a whole bunch of beautiful cross-country trails, just waiting for you to discover them. So in between absorbing the glorious views on the festival site and adventuring through Lake Louise, strap on those skis and glide on through, and take in the sites while having a phenomenal time!
Cap off the trip with a very special event: the International Ice Carving Competition Ceremony Awards
Remember those top ice sculptors who have come to compete in the festival from across the globe? The very same ones who will be gracing the festival with their talent and their unique, beautiful ice sculptures?
Well, on January 20, the competition comes to a head and one of those sculptors will win gold in the Ice Magic Festival's International Ice Carving Competition! Not to mention the fact that this ceremony will also give away the prestigious Canada Cup, which is given to the very best of the best; plus the People's Choice Award, which festival goers can vote for!
Honestly though, no matter how you choose to spend your time at this fairy-tale-come-to-life event in Alberta's Lake Louise, you're sure to have one amazing time!
Featuring a whole lot of things to do - like ice skating, taking a sleigh ride, enjoying treats from an ice bar, and, of course, admiring the beautiful work of the world's most talented ice sculptors - the Ice Magic Festival is one event you absolutely need to check out this winter!