What to Do in the Mountains in December

The mountains are teeming with holiday delights this month, including visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a sugar shack, sleigh rides and more.

Photograph courtesy of Banff Gondola by Pursuit.

Celebrate Christmas at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

When: November 20 to December 30

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is bringing its annual holiday festivities back with Christmas at the Castle. Daily activities include gliding across the Vermillion Lawn outdoor skating rink, searching for clues in a scavenger hunt or visiting Santa’s dining room and all of the Christmas decorations in place for his arrival. On top of a month’s worth of family-friendly activities, featured events include making holiday crafts or listening to bedtime stories with Mrs. Claus and private family photos with Santa. This year, activities can only be reserved once to ensure physical distancing.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, 405 Spray Ave., 403-762-2211, christmasatthecastle.ca


Visit Santa Claus on Sulphur Mountain

When: November 21 to December 31

Every weekend from November 21 to December 20 and daily from December 21 to 31, head up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain to experience Mountaintop Christmas at the Banff Gondola. Join in on decorating cookies and crafts, watching a Disney Christmas film or visiting Santa. Special this year is the sugar shack where you can roll your own taffy with maple toffee from Turkey Hill Sugarbush. And the adults can warm up too with hot chocolate or mulled wine at the adult beverage bar. Kids receive free admission on the gondola before noon every day, and all activities are complimentary with admission.

100 Mountain Ave., 1-800-661-1750, banffgondola.com 


Visit King Malcolm’s Castle in Canmore

When: December 1 to 24

The Malcolm Hotel in Canmore is transforming into King Malcolm’s Castle this December to offer a suite of holiday-themed events and entertainment for all ages. Join a daily search for elves Jester and Wisecraker and share your findings online for a chance to win delicious treats, or visit Santa and Mrs. Claus for a classic Christmas photo (you can bring your dog to the photoshoot too). Watch the crowning of a 25-foot Christmas tree and join in on a fireside storytelling event, both online or in-person.

Malcolm Hotel, 321 Spring Creek Dr., 403-812-0680, malcolmhotel.ca


Ski Even More Slopes

When: Various opening dates

It’s officially ski and snowboard season now that even more ski resorts and hills are opening up. Starting December 4, Castle Mountain Resort will tentatively open, with Powder Stagecoach Cat Ski operations opening for December 26. Fernie Alpine Resort is set to follow with a tentative opening date of December 5, followed by Panorama Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, which are both tentatively scheduled to open on December 11. The Fairmont Hot Springs Resort‘s ski area will tentatively open on December 18. All dates are tentative and visitors should consult with resorts beforehand.

skicastle.ca; tourismfernie.com; panoramaresort.com; kickinghorseresort.com; fairmonthotsprings.com


Go for a Sleigh Ride in Lake Louise

When: Tentative start date of December 12

Soon, you can take in the crisp winter air on a sleigh ride in Lake Louise. The Brewster Adventures sleigh rides feature upholstered seating in a sleigh for both day and evening rides along a lake-side trail beneath the Victoria Glacier. Daytime rides will provide views of the Ice Falls and evening riders will get to take in the sparkling glow of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. While blankets won’t be provided this year, guests are welcome to purchase a blanket from Brewster Adventures or bring their own for the ride. And if you’re looking for a more intimate experience, ask for the two-seater cutter sleigh.

Brewster Adventures, 403-762-5454, brewsteradventures.com

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