Lake Louise

Get into a winter state of mind

Tis the season for ski races and Santa Claus parades

The WinterStart Women's World Cup Downhill gets underway at Lake Louise ski resort Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.
Photo courtesy of Alpine Canada


BANFF/LAKE LOUISE, AB - Winter starts early in Banff - and why not? There’s lots of snow on the ground and plenty of fun winter activities going on. 

The WinterStart Festival, running until Dec. 2, will definitely get you in a seasonal state of mind.

Organizers began the WinterStart Festival on Nov. 9, because it was the official first ski day at the Lake Louise Ski Area. Highlights of this festival include the adrenaline-pumping Men’s and Women’s World Cup Downhill races contrasted with good, old-fashioned family fun at the Christmas in the Rockies event.

Men’s and Women’s World Cup Downhill

For those of us who love the thrill of speed and the chance to cheer on these uber-athletes to the finish line, look no further than the WinterStart World Cup Downhill at Lake Louise. The men took to the hill Nov. 24 to 25 for the Downhill and Super G races. The women hit the circuit Nov. 30 to Dec.2.  

The downhill style race challenges some of the world’s top skiers to to get to the bottom of the hill in the fastest time possible.  Racers can reach speeds of up to 130 km/ hour. The Super G (or Super Giant Slalom) race combines the speed of downhill and the technical ability of slalom. 

Both events are heart stopping, world-class events; and this is your only opportunity to see these racers in Canada. The world-cup circuit makes one stop in Lake Louise and then it’s off to the U.S., Europe, Russia and other countries. 

Check out the details on this free event at

Christmas in the Rockies

The Santa Claus Parade of Lights is the main event in Banff, with thousands of people lining Banff Avenue.
Photo courtesy of Banff Lake Louise Tourism 

So, now that you’re winterized, how about catching a little Christmas spirit? 

Christmas in the Rockies on Dec. 1 guarantees to soften up even the Scroogiest of us. Beginning at 11:30 a.m., a series of family friendly events lead up to the appearance of the big guy in red at 5:30 p.m.

Stuart Back, Director of In Resort Services for Banff Lake Louise Tourism, says this is a wonderful all-day family event.

“Most of them are free and it’s a great way to kick start the Christmas season,” says Back. 

To start the day, grab a java or a hot chocolate at the Wild Flour and watch the talented ice sculptors create works of art in the Bison Courtyard on Bear Street. The kids can try their hand at the “Little Chippers” ice carving station. To warm up your toes, take part in an “Elfercise” session led by Santa’s dancing elf.

Organizers are offering horse-drawn wagon rides through downtown Banff while the Whyte Museum will host its annual holiday season art show and sale.

But the main events is the Santa Clause Parade of Lights. 

“We get thousands of people lining Banff Avenue to watch this event,” says Back. “There’s no parade in Calgary so lots of people make the drive out here.”

Many more attractions await those who attend Christmas in the Rockies, including face painting, balloon animals, carollers and crafts. Most local businesses have in-store specials so it’s a great time for a bit of shopping, too. There will also be a taping of A Vinyl Cafe Christmas with Stuart McLean at the Banff Centre. 

Need to know

  • Children ski free during the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup. Get two free child lift tickets with the purchase of an adult lift ticket.
  • All you have to do is say "Go Canada Go" at the ticket counter.
  • The offer is for children up to 12 years old, and is valid during the Men's World Cup Nov 24 - 25 and the Women's World Cup Nov 30 - Dec 2.

Story Links:
WinterStart Festival

Santa Clause Parade of Lights

Lake Louise Ski Area

Wild Flour Bakery

Bison Courtyard

Whyte Museum

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