What to Do in the Mountains in December

This month, hit the slopes dressed as Santa, see illuminated animal sculptures, check out a Christmas card stamp collection and more.

In Search of Christmas Spirit 2021. Photo by Kelly MacDonald.

Get into the Christmas spirit with a market and horse-drawn wagon rides in Bragg Creek

When: December 1 to 3

The hamlet of Bragg Creek is bringing back its Spirit of Christmas market for a weekend featuring more than 40 vendors selling handcrafted products and treats. On December 2, take a horse-drawn wagon ride that will make various stops throughout the community for face-painting, storytelling, craft corners and kid-only stores. The entire family can make a whole day of it, soaking in the tree lights, enjoying hot chocolate and cookies at bonfires, and seeking out winter princesses and the Clauses for photos.

Bragg Creek, visitbraggcreek.com


Kick off the holiday season with shopping and fireworks in Fernie

When: December 2

Nothing will get you in the holiday spirit faster than seeing an entire town lean into it for a night with art, lights, Christmas carols, holiday shopping and more. At this Fernie event, get your photo with Santa, Mrs. Claus and The Griz before you pop into the artisan fair at The Arts Station. Fernie’s local boutiques on the main street will also be open for you to find unique holiday gifts that you can then get gift-wrapped (by donation) at the Fernie Museum. The night will wrap with fireworks, a DJ spinning tunes and hot chocolate down at Station Square.

Downtown Fernie, tourismfernie.com


Enjoy some festivities at the big three ski resorts in Banff National Park

The big three — Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mount Norquay — are all open and primed for the ski and snowboard season now. You’ll want to hit the slopes for some runs and save the date for many upcoming highlights. Santa will be skiing at Lake Louise Ski Resort from December 23 to 25, and on December 23, you can warm up at the Lodge of Ten Peaks for a turkey feast. At Norquay, catch the Torchlight Parade on December 31 as skiers take the North American run from the Big Chair for a light spectacle you can see from town. And if you dress up in your best Santa outfit on December 25 and head to Sunshine, you’ll get a special ticketed window rate (and those proceeds go to charity).

skibanff.com; skilouise.com; banffnorquay.com


Make Christmas cards at the Whyte Museum in Banff

When: December 2

For a free, family-friendly activity in Banff, stop into Whyte Christmas and take in the limited time pop-up exhibition of Peter Whyte’s Christmas card stamp and tool collection. It will inspire you to create your own handmade designs at the card stamping station to send to your loved ones. Enjoy the crafts, cookies and hot chocolate as the Castle Carolers perform live Christmas music to add to the festivities.

111 Bear Street, 403-762-2291, Banff, whyte.org


Find festive holiday cheer on the top of a mountain at the Banff Gondola

When: Saturdays & Sundays starting December 2, daily from December 25 to 30

It’ll be a winter wonderland at the top of Sulphur Mountain this entire month. With activities like cookie decorating, Christmas crafts and holiday movie screenings in the upper terminal, Mountaintop Christmas at the Banff Gondola can become a memorable family tradition with a cool spin to it as you’ll be on top of a snowy mountain for it all. Kids go free every day before noon and tickets start from $60.

Banff Gondola, 100 Mountain Ave., Banff, banffjaspercollection.com


Hear stories and see images from local photographer Paul Zizka in Canmore

When: December 7

Paul Zizka is an award-winning Banff photographer who has journeyed the globe and captured incredible images from the remote icebergs of Antarctica to the crystal waters of Polynesia and Greenland’s rugged coastlines. He’s also shot some memorable images of the mountain peaks in and around Banff National Park. Come listen to his stories as he does a slideshow presentation at artsPlace for Journeys to the Edge: A Night with Paul Zizka.

artsPlace, 950 8 Ave., 403-609-2623, Canmore, artsplacecanmore.com


Try out ski equipment on the slopes and shop a holiday market at Banff Sunshine Village

When: December 9, 10, 16 and 17 (market); December 16 and 17 (Salomon Demo Days)

This month, Banff Sunshine Village is hosting its first European-style outdoor holiday market. You can find holiday gifts from local community vendors over two weekends at the Very Merry Sunshine Market held at the Bourgeau Base Area. On the second weekend, you can also try out the latest skis and snowboards from Salomon at the Salomon Demo Days. This is a free event but a lift ticket is required.

Banff Sunshine Village, Banff, skibanff.com


Celebrate Christmas from an Indigenous perspective with A Stoney Christmas in Canmore

When: December 16 and 17

Join the Smalleyes family as they return to artsPlace to present A Stoney Christmas, a re-imagined Christmas tale that features traditional Indigenous dance, song and storytelling. The entire extended family of performers, artists and community leaders have been doing these performances in the Bow Valley since 2017 and Samantha, the Smalleyes’ mom, designs and handmakes beadwork for the show and all the dancers’ beautiful regalia.

artsPlace, 950 8 Ave., 403-609-2623, Canmore, artsplacecanmore.com


See illuminated animal sculptures at Banff’s In Search of Christmas Spirit

When: Until December 31

Visiting Banff during the winter months is like walking onto the set of a Hallmark holiday movie. In Search of Christmas Spirit takes that one step further with an outdoor experience that often sells out each year. Wander the trail designed by local Indigenous artist Jason Carter in the Cascades of Time Gardens. You’ll see large-scale illuminated wolves, bears, buffalo, moose and more as lights, sounds and special effects bring an immersive, live Christmas wildlife tale to life. It’s a free event but tickets are required and can be booked online.

Cascade of Time Garden, Banff, banfflakelouise.com

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