Alberta’s Banff National Park is home to the Ski Big3 resorts:
- Banff Sunshine Village is known for having the deepest, most reliable snowpack of any of the Alberta resorts
- Lake Louise is the third-largest ski resort in Canada and one of the largest in North America
- And Mount Norquay, is home to the only night skiing in the Canadian Rockies
In total, that’s a combined area of roughly 8,000 acres, with the skiable terrain encompassing 343 runs. Each of the three resorts is easily accessible in one ski holiday, and, the icing on the cake, all of the resorts are included on your Ski Big3 pass.
Yet another plus factor: Banff Sunshine claims the title of the longest non-glacial ski season in Canada—from November to late May—with an average snowfall forecast of up to 30 feet. So when is the best time to ski the Big3? Our experts have outlined the best time to hit the slopes, as depending on your date of travel, each of the seven months offers something unique.
Now is the time to book your 2023-24 Banff – Lake Louise ski holiday as we are offering savings of up to 25%. Parents will also benefit hugely from our Kids Ski FREE offer (12 years and under), with families qualifying for reductions of up to £1,380 (approx. for a maximum of three children) based on the purchase of a 14-day lift pass.
Please note: With changeable weather patterns, this post should only be used as a guide for what to expect.
November: A Beginner’s Paradise
Often one of the first ski areas to open in Canada, Alberta’s Ski Big3 resorts will typically be all-go in November, but a late October start is not unheard of if snowfall gets underway more quickly. Skiing at the start of the season is a real advantage for beginners, as arriving outside of peak season means there will be more opportunities to practice turns and tune up your skiing and snowboarding skills.
If you are an adult and brand new to skiing, don’t forgo the Sunshine Village magic carpet, as it’s not just for kids. For levelling up, try Rock Isle Road, a well-groomed, wide, gentle slope that is the perfect starter slope for beginners.
If you are in the mood for some themed après, why not tie your trip into the Banff Craft Beer Festival, which happens at the end of the month?
December: A Magical Winter Wonderland
If you would like to experience this winter wonderland in its full glory, December is a great time to visit, especially if you are bringing little ones. Themed activities include skiing with Santa, holiday photoshoots and torchlight parades—and what could be more magical than enjoying Christmas at Lake Louise’s fairytale castle?
On average, during December, Banff sees about 10cm of snowfall per week, with the high peaks and ski hills receiving the most snow.
We suggest skiing Lake Louise, opting for the Summit Chair, and heading to the top of Mount Whitehorn for a chance to sample some fabulous early-season terrain on the ridge, including Upper Boomerang, a powder-filled bowl.
January: Night Skiing Is A Go
January is prime time to ski, as the snowfall is at its most consistent and the freeride zones are already filled in and ready to shred. Night skiing at Mt. Norquay also begins in the same month. The skiing and tubing lanes are open on Fridays and Saturdays and illuminated from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.Our pick? After a few laps, head for some local apres at the Lone Pine Pub.
It’s best to layer up on the slopes in January, as while this is one of Banff’s coldest months, the Chinook winds can shift the temperature by around 20°C in just one day! One of our favourite times to ski, January also bears the title of the second-snowiest month of the season, so there is usually enough snow to enjoy the full gamut of winter sports in Banff, including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and more.
February: Skiing & Snowboarding Heaven
By this time of year, there will be a good base of snow, and you can expect some of the fluffiest, driest powder there is, making this time of year skiing and snowboarding heaven.
Tucked away on the “lower mountain” at Banff Sunshine, and often missed, head for Goat’s Eye Mountain with its glades, chutes, steeps, and wide open-groomed cruisers!
When it comes to apres, those February nights will still feel pretty cold (-12°C or less), so what better time to cosy up around the fireside with a hot chocolate?
March: The Sweet Spot On Your Ski Calendar
In March, milder temperatures hint at spring, but there’s still plenty of snowfall; in fact, this month often sees more snow than any other. Alongside longer days, you can usually expect a great deal of sunshine, blue skies, and a more upbeat après scene.
With regular bluebird days on the cards, there’s no better time to ski and stare. Try Banff Sunshine’s South Divide, a spectacular run to carve with the breathtaking view of Mount Assiniboine—the Matterhorn of the Rockies—looming large.
Don’t forget to show up for Retro Ski Day at Mt. Norquay—the event celebrating the end of night skiing. Get ready to make a ski statement, as fluorescent onesies are all the rage!
April: Sunshine & Ski
As you indulge in spring, the temperatures are beginning to heat up, but there’s still skiing to be had. During this month, the high alpine terrain is at its finest, making this the ideal time to enjoy the delights at the top of the mountain while experiencing warmer temperatures in the town.
With April still known for its fluffy dumps of white gold, why not check out some steeper terrain on Blue Bell—one of Banff Sunshine’s blue runs? Located off the Wolverine Express, Blue Bell offers skiers a wide run complete with a splendid view of Goat’s Eye.
An end-of-season bash not to be missed, opt to experience Mount Slushmore at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. The event features live music, pond skimming, and plenty more revelry!
May: The Season Finale!
The region’s location and high altitude in the Canadian Rockies mean the ski season lasts well into May, and Banff Sunshine’s green through black diamond runs show off the resort’s uninterrupted mountain views. Try Prune Pickers Pass—a beginners favourite—or Angel Flight, a black diamond run leaving you with jaw-dropping views of the Monarch Mountains.
And of course, saving the best ’til last, how could we forget Banff Sunshine’s Slush Cup? On the last day of the season, competitors ski or snowboard down a run into an icy pool of water. Mad Trapper’s Saloon is the epicentre of the action, with prime viewing seats. Retro neonwear is encouraged.
Banff Après: Lively Or Laid Back?
At Lake Louise, the après is laid-back, but in the town of Banff, it’s a more lively affair.
If you are partial to partying that lasts well into the night, try the Rose & Crown—the only pub in Banff to have live music every night. You can also mix pins, pints, and pizza at High Rollers—Banff’s only 10-pin bowling alley beer hall.
Michael Williamson-Giles, our Ski Product Manager, says, “Banff is one of my favourite towns with it’s vast variety of restaurants and bars to suit all tastes; it really does give you a unique experience. The Elk and Oarsman is a must for après.”
At Lake Louise, the après may be more limited, but the scenery alone will delight incurable romantics. Try the Whiskey Jack Lodge for a chance to sample Canadian and craft beers; the Banded Peak Base Camp for its festive patio vibes; or The Ice Bar at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Open from mid-December to mid-April, the ice bar is constructed using 300-pound blocks of ice.
Where to stay: Banff Or Lake Louise?
Honoured as North America’s Leading Family Resort and more recently winning the title of Alberta’s Leading Hotel Suite (the Lakeview Suite) in the 30th World Travel Awards, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is in a league of its own. And who could forget those views—the 539-room hotel complete with several restaurants and a luxury spa—located on the shores of the stunning Lake Louise? The perfect place to celebrate, make your stay extra special and ask our team about Fairmont Gold service.
Our top pick for Banff is the popular Moose Hotel & Suites. Located at the corner of Banff Avenue and Moose Street, the hotel gives you easy access to the slopes and the local ski scene with a complimentary shuttle service.
Just ask our own Michael Williamson-Giles: “I loved staying here; the well-finished rooms, great position (just a short walk into the main downtown area), great bar area with local beers, and the roof-top hot tubs with brilliant views. It’s one of my favourite places to be in Banff.”
Built up over the course of three decades, at Frontier Ski, you benefit from our unrivalled personal knowledge, as every recommendation is based on first-hand experience. As an ATOL and ABTA-protected tour operator, you can also book with complete confidence.
Contact us today on 020 8776 8709 or email us at email@example.com to plan your tailor-made ski holiday today. ATOL PROTECTED No 5405 ABTA W3207.