What to do in the Mountains in September

From homegrown culture to the world of whisky, this is what’s happening in the mountains near Calgary in the upcoming weeks.

Scotch-lovers take note: the Banff Whisky Experience returns this year on Sept. 13 and 14, at a new venue, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Photo by Jessica Hunter / Banff Whisky Experience

Indulge in the New Offerings at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa

The Scandinavian-style spa on the grounds of the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge completed its Phase II — and final — expansion this past July. The expansion added two new saltwater pools (a medium-temperature pool and a hot pool with a waterfall and a very cool fire feature) and moved the Two Trees Bistro into a new two-storey building on the spa grounds. The new bistro is less like a restaurant and more like the ultimate chill-out living room with cozy couch seating, chunky knit throws and big windows that look out at the surrounding mountains. The menu leans toward health-conscious, in that you won’t find burgers and poutine. But it’s not all celery juice either, with a range of tasty breakfast/brunch/lunch offerings and share platters. Two Trees also serves alcoholic beverages, meaning you can pair your session in the pools with a glass (or bottle) of prosecco, just as nature intended.

 

Hike from Sunshine Mountain Lodge to Shadow Lake Lodge

Sunshine Mountain Lodge (the hotel up at Banff Sunshine Village ski resort) debuted a hut-to-hut hiking package this summer in partnership with Shadow Lake Lodge. The experience starts with a gondola ride up to Sunshine Village and a night at Sunshine Mountain Lodge. The next day, hikers make the 27-km trek to Shadow Lake Lodge and stay the night there, then hike back out to the trailhead (transportation from the end-point can be arranged). The Hut-to-Hut experience can be booked until Sunday, Sept. 8 (to book call 1-877-542-2633).

 

Race the 10th Annual Tears and Gears Duathlon in Fernie

Trail running and mountain biking are the “du” in this annual duathlon on the trails around Fernie Alpine Resort. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Tears and Gears, which has solo, team, classic and kids (aged seven to 14) divisions. The 2019 race is on Saturday, Sept. 7, with registration open until Monday, Sept. 2 at midnight (no entries accepted after that). Race fees are $70 for adults; $30 for the young ’uns. There are new routes this year for both legs of the event: a 9.5 kilometre run (569-metre ascent) and a 14.9-km bike (735-m ascent).

 

Sip and Savour All the Whisky in Banff

The Banff Whisky Experience is back for its second year on Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14, at a new venue, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The festival is presenting 15 master classes over the two days, and caps off with a Grand Tasting Event featuring hundreds of whiskies from all over the world. The local scene will also be well-represented by the Sunset Terrace, an outdoor lounge and fire-pit area sponsored by Banff-based PARK Distillery.

 

Play Golf for a Good Cause in Canmore

Murrieta’s restaurant in Canmore is partnering with local hospitality company Basecamp Resorts to present a charity golf tournament on Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Stewart Creek Golf and Country Club. The tournament has a shotgun start at 10 a.m. and entry includes beverages, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Money raised will go to the Canmore & Area health care foundation and the Safe Haven Foundation, a charity dedicated to keeping homeless and at-risk teenaged girls safe, off the streets and in school. Call 403-678-7599 to register as a team or as an individual.

 

Experience the Canmore Festival of Art and Creativity

Canmore has a hopping art scene and celebrates that scene each year with a three-day festival that includes free drop-in workshops and other hands-on activities and an artisan market. This year’s event also includes “Bike Shorts,” a screening of a bunch of short films about cycling. The Festival of Art and Creativity is held in conjunction with Alberta Culture Days, Sept. 27 to 29, and kicks off on the evening of Friday, Sept. 27 with a community campfire featuring Indigenous dancers and drummers and performances by musical acts Shred Kelly and Northern Quarter.

 

Visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre for Free

If you’ve ever driven through the Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Alberta, you’ve seen the eerie site of the Frank Slide, a massive mountain rockslide that buried the entire town of Frank in 1903. You can learn more about this fascinating and tragic natural disaster at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, which has free admission Friday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Sept. 29, as part of Alberta Culture Days.

 

Check into the new Signature Suites at the Springs

Calgarians who know better save their Banff getaways for the fall months after the summer tourist crush has eased somewhat. If it’s alpine luxury you’re after, the Fairmont Banff Springs debuted its new Signature Suites this past summer on the sixth floor of the main hotel building. The six one- and two-bedroom suites all have spacious sitting rooms (with powder rooms) and offer all manner of perks, including VIP concierge service, complementary spa access, and in-room breakfast from a special “Signature” menu. Five of the Signature Suites are around 550 square feet, while the “Gallery Suite” is a whopping 850 square feet and has its own foyer entrance and butler’s pantry/food prep area. The Gallery Suite and its adjacent suites can also be cordoned off into a private wing. If private wings are a thing in your world, then it won’t faze you to know that the Signature Suites start at around $2,500 a night.

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