Visiting Banff in February? Here’s All You NEED to Know

If you plan on visiting Banff in February, don’t come with shorts and a T-shirt in the suitcase. Banff in February is a wonderful, but chilly time to visit. So not everyone may think it’s the best time to visit Banff, however we are firm believers that there are no bad times to visit Banff – as long as you are prepared!

This is Alberta, after all, and Alberta winters can be brutal. If you visit, you’ll quickly be reminded of that in February. Don’t worry, there are so many wonderful things to do in Banff in February! From visiting Lake Louise, to skiing at Lake Louise, to hitting up a hot chocolate bar, and dressing in a cozy sweater here is all you need to know before you visit Banff in February.


Things to Know Before Visiting Banff in February


What’s the Weather Like in Banff in February

Banff in February

The average temperature of Banff in February is around -1°C, but trust me when I say that’s the average, and it typically feels like at least -15°C. It’s definitely one of the coldest times to visit Banff, but also one of the best times to visit the Canadian Rockies if you like winter sports.

While January was more of a “locals” month, February means tourists are now showing up for their winter adventures. This means you may find higher season prices than in November, early December, and January, and it will probably be busier than you might think in town. Don’t worry – it’s still nothing like Banff in the summer!

There is one week in February that is Family Week, typically around the middle of the month. This is when the towns of Canmore and Banff fill up with visitors and the ski resorts can be particularly busy. It’s still manageable though, and nothing like the big mega resorts like Whistler, Breckenridge, Aspen, Park City, or Mammoth.

Nights in February are still super cold, with temperatures hovering at -12°C or even lower. This means that February in Banff is the perfect time to book a Banff cabin and sit around a cozy fireside with a hot chocolate. Snowfall in February is a little unpredictable. Some winters, it’s heavy and can provide epic powder days, while other Februarys have seen little snowfall.

Banff in February
Trying to make boiling water freeze mid-air in freezing cold temperatures.

Nevertheless, you should arrive to Alberta fully prepared for winter in Banff. Cross your fingers for sunshine, February in Banff means long days so when the sun is shining it can make for a glorious day.

It’s a great time of year to spend days on the slopes, go Nordic skiing, or enjoy ice climbing around Johnston Canyon.


How Much Does It Snow in February?

Banff in February

It snows quite a bit in February, but surprisingly, not as much as in March. On average it snows 11 cm over 4 days per week in February near the town of Banff.

However head up towards Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway for more snow – on average about 15 cm per week. I must reiterate to come to Banff with a good pair of snow boots and an even better winter jacket, or you’ll be doing a little shopping on Banff Avenue. I prefer Sorels and a down parka most days.


Festivals in Banff in February

Lake Louise Ice Skating

The festivals in Banff start to wind down in February, but if you’re visiting at the beginning of the month you’ll be able to enjoy the end of Banff Snowdays.

Ice Magic

For 12 days between Jan – Feb, 2024 (Jan 26-28 & Feb 2-4, 2024, 6pm – 9pm), there is an extraordinary event at Lake Louise. The Ice Magic event is what winter in Canada is all about. This is where ice comes alive and serves as a form of art and architectural design. During this time, you can watch artists from around the world carve different frozen figures.

While it used to be free to visit the ice carving events and wander around between Monday – Friday and on the weekends before 10 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. You’ll now need tickets to join in the fun, these are available for purchase starting December 12, 2023. Tickets allow public viewing from 6 pm to 9 pm every weekend. The main events will go down like this:

  • January 26 – 27: Witness skilled artisans create breathtaking ice sculptures during the 2024 Ice Magic Competition.
  • January 28: Attend the Award Ceremony to discover the champions of the 2024 Ice Magic Competition and savor a captivating live carving demonstration.
  • February 2 – 4: Appreciate the completed ice sculptures and experience live carving demonstrations.
The Ice Magic 2024 experience starts at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, where a complimentary shuttle will take you to the event. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $7 for children. Lake Louise Ski Resort Guests, Banff Hotel Guests, Lake Louise Area Hotel Guests, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Guests either receive complimentary or discounted tickets. Contact your hotel for more information.

Banff Snowdays

SnowDays will happen from Jan 19 – Feb 4, 2024. This 12-day long event where talented ice carvers and snow carvers head for Downtown Banff and work their magic. Their work is typically displayed for the public on Bear Street.

Many events revolve around Snowdays. While the famous Skijoring event will take place on Banff Avenue in January, you can still bundle up and follow the trail of snow sculptures throughout on Bear Street and Banff Avenue Square until February 4th.

Family Day 2024

Family Day is a holiday in Canada that is usually on the third Monday in February. In 2024 this means February 19th, but I would expect Banff to be busy from February 16th to the 25th.


What to Pack for Banff in February?

thebanffblog-natasha and cameron

Layers, layers, and layers. February in Banff is one of the coldest months of the year and you’ll want to prepare accordingly. That means a proper winter jacket, thermal underwear, merino wool socks, winter boots, gloves, and a hat at the very least.

For indoor time, you’ll want to pack things like a sweater and long sleeve pants. Don’t bother with any kind of summer gear during this time, and unless you plan on having an extravagant dinner out I wouldn’t advise bringing a dress or dress shoes. Honestly, you may even feel out of place dressing up a lot in Banff.

Here’s an essential list to go off. The left column is for general winter packing, and the right is for partaking in snow sports.

  • Winter Down Jacket
  • Sweater
  • Flannel
  • Casual Pants
  • 1 x Top Base Layer
  • 1 x Bottom Base Layer
  • 2-3 x Wool Sports Bra
  • 2-3 x Wool Ski Socks
  • Mittens
  • Warm Hat
  • Winter Boots
  • 1 x Mid-Layer Jacket
  • 1 x Shell Jacket
  • 1 x Shell Pants
  • 1 x Insulated Jacket*
  • 1 x Snow Pants*
  • 1 x Mitts or Gloves
  • 1 x Balaclava
  • 1 x Buff Headwear
  • 1 x Goggles (if skiing or snowboarding)
  • 1 x Helmet* (if skiing or snowboarding)

Can You Visit Lake Louise in February?

lake louise winter

Yes, you can visit Lake Louise in February and it’s beautiful! I absolutely love Lake Louise in the winter. Although expect Lake Louise to be cold and have a lot of snow – it is Banff in February after all.

The best thing to do in Lake Louise around this time is ice skate, walk around the lake, or enjoy a coffee inside the Fairmont. Pack warm weather clothes for Lake Louise in February, it’s higher in elevation than the town of Banff so you can expect it to be quite a bit colder.

Don’t think that just because Lake Louise is frozen that it isn’t still beautiful. Lake Louise is amazing in the winter, and some would argue it is more stunning than in the summer. Moraine Lake is not accessible in February.


Things to do in Banff in February


Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

Johnston-Canyon

The Johnston Canyon walk is the best thing you can do in Banff in the winter for free. Have you ever stood on a frozen waterfall before? Neither had we until the Johnston Canyon hike. Due to the elevation of the region and the sub-zero temperatures of winter the waterfalls of Johnston Canyon freeze in time. It’s a pretty surreal experience and completely accessible for all.

We suggest picking up some microspikes in town. Although the trail is well managed, it can get icy and it’s better than slipping everywhere on the trail – ours were very handy. Once you reach the end of the trail and the most impressive frozen fall, you’ll probably even spot some ice climbers.


Banff Hot Springs

Banff Springs
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Noel Hendrickson

Enjoying hot water in the cool air is one of the top Banff winter activities to enjoy. Don’t let the frigid Canadian temperatures detract you because there are plenty of ways to warm up around Banff.

Just outside of Banff town lies the Banff Upper Hot Springs, which are among the best hot springs in Alberta. These hot springs make for one of the best places to relax those stiff muscles after a ski day. Just be warned, afternoons can draw a crowd, so head there in the morning for a quiet experience.


Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Kananaskis Nordic Spa
Travel Alberta / Mike Seehagel

While the Banff Hot Springs are a great place to relax, we get a lot of feedback that they are not quite the spa experience many hope for. For a relaxing day out in luxury, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is what you want. Located in the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge in Kananaskis Country, right near the base of Nakiska Ski Resort is this beautiful hotel and inside is the Nordic Spa is the ultimate space for relaxation in the mountains.

Here, they have an Eucalyptus Steam Room, an Alchemist Steam Room, a Finnish Sauna, an Exfoliation Cabin, and so much more. You could easily spend a whole February day here enjoying the pools and other amenities.

If you really want to have a fabulous wellness weekend in the Rockies, book a stay at the Kananaskis Mountain Lodgeso you never have to hop in the car.


Ice Skate on Lake Louise

There’s no more iconic ice-skating area in the world than at Lake Louise. Heading to Lake Louise in the winter is one of the best things to do in Banff in February. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise clears and maintains the “rink” so visitors can enjoy ice skating here all winter, and February is prime time!

Lake Louise Ice Skating: Everything You Need to Know

Hike Tunnel Mountain

tunnel mountain winter

Tunnel Mountain is right in the heart of Banff. It’s beloved by locals for its accessibility and you can hike it year-round. It may be one of the smallest mountains in Banff National Park, but it still offers tremendous views of the surrounding valleys and Mount Rundle. It’s one of the easiest yet rewarding hikes you can do in Banff.

The hike moves slowly up the mountain through several switchbacks and offers various viewpoints out into the Bow and Spray Valleys. It’s great for sunrise or sunset and it rarely disappoints. The best part is it’s only a 4.5 km round trip hike and shouldn’t take more than one hour up. It’s one of the easiest Banff winter hikes you can do, with only 266 meters of elevation gain.


Ski/Snowboard in Banff in February

Lake Louise Ski Resort

There are three epic ski resorts in Banff to enjoy. Snowboarding at all of the SkiBig3 resorts was our primary reason for heading to Banff in the winter before we settled on moving here.

SkiBig3 is a collection of three mountain resorts all within Banff National Park. You have Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine, and Mt. Norquay which are all unique Canada ski resorts.

Skiing or snowboarding here is one of the best things to do in Banff in the winter. Mt. Norquay is the closest ski resort to town, while Banff Sunshine is about 20 minutes from Banff and Lake Louise is about 40 minutes from the town. They are all great options, but we honestly love Lake Louise the most.


Snowshoe

A great thing to do for families visiting Banff in February is snowshoe! Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t leave the well-trodden path. You might not be able to walk through the snow on foot, but a quality pair of snowshoes allows you to float across the snow.

They’re super easy to get the hang of and you’ll be moving along in no time. Two popular snowshoe hikes are to the Paint Pots or Marble Canyon, but you’re free to explore the wilderness on your own if you rent a pair, just make sure you don’t get yourself in avalanche terrain without proper avalanche safety knowledge. You can rent snowshoes at Snowtips Bactrax.


Catch the Northern Lights

If you’re lucky, and I mean really lucky, you may catch the Aurora while visiting Banff. It’s rare, and I wouldn’t plan on seeing the northern lights while visiting, as the good shows only happen a few times per year.

But if the sky is clear and the aurora forecast looks promising, it’s best to make your way to a really dark area of the park and keep your eyes open. The darkest days are in December, but it’s possible to see the Northern Lights in February.

How To See The Northern Lights in Banff

Snowshoe Back to Sundance Lodge

credit: Epic Trails / Things to do in Banff in Winter

Sundance Lodge is a beautiful cabin in Banff managed by Discover Banff Tours. In the summer you can book a horseback trip back to the lodge, while in the winter, it’s possible to snowshoe back to the lodge and stay overnight! Once back at the lodge, the excellent staff will treat you to a delicious meal in a traditional log cabin away from modern life.


Banff Nightrise

Banff Nightrise
Experiencing Banff Nightrise

Book a trip up the Banff Gondola at night in February and immerse yourself in Nightrise, which is included in the Banff Gondola ticket price. What is Nightrise? The Banff Nightrise is an interactive experience created by multimedia studio Moment Factory in partnership with the Stoney Nakoda Nation. Nightrise is an immersive and interactive journey that transforms Sulphur Mountain after dark with lights, projections, and riveting soundscapes from mid-November to mid-March only.

It allows visitors to “listen to the view,” and each level of the complex is transformed, with the viewing deck allowing visitors to view Banff in a new way.

It’s a beautiful experience, especially since it is partnered with the Indigenous peoples who contribute music, words, and stories. We particularly loved the “Tales from the Elders” section.


Sleigh Ride

lake louise sleigh ride

If you missed Banff at Christmastime and had riding in a sleigh on your bucket list don’t worry, you can still enjoy this experience in February!

It’s possible to take a horse-drawn carriage ride inside an actual snowglobe when you visit Banff in the winter. The two of the best places for this experience is at Lake Louise and also at Warner Stable in Banff.


Go Dog Sledding

dog sledding in canmore

Discover Banff Tours runs dog sledding adventures at Lake Louise and Howling Dog runs tours outside of Canmore. If you have never experienced this, it is one of the best things to do in Banff in February.

We’ve done this four separate times around the globe, and it’s always a fantastic experience. I particularly love how quiet the ride is, with only the sound of the dog team’s steps against the snow.


Venture into Canmore!

Okay, this isn’t really a thing to do in Banff, as it’s a 15-minute drive away. We may be biased to our home base, but we think Canmore is the bee’s knees.

There’s plenty to do in Canmore in the winter, including Nordic skiing at Canmore Nordic Center, hiking to Grassi Lakes, and enjoying the Grizzly Paw Brewery downtown.


Celebrate Valentines Day

Baker Creek Cabins in Banff.National.Park
Enjoying the fire at Baker Creek

February 14th is the day of love, so if you are visiting with your significant other and want to enjoy a romantic day, there’s no better place to do so than in the mountains. Some of the most romantic things to do include booking a romantic sleigh ride, followed by dinner at Eden, the Sky Bistro, or The Bison. Then book a stay at Storm Mountain, the Banff Springs, Baker Creek, or The Rimrock.


Is February a Good Time to Visit Banff?

canmore winter

Banff in February is a great time to visit Banff if you love winter, and don’t mind being cold. Ski season is in full swing in February, so if you are a skier or boarder expect to scream your way down Banff Sunshine, Mt Norquay, or Lake Louise.

Winter sports are abound right now and you’ll be able to enjoy snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and fat biking. However it is cold, and you should be prepared for very cold temperatures, possibly some of the coldest you have ever experienced. If you are expecting warmth, you should book a trip South, otherwise you’ll be miserable. A great parka can work wonders for just strolling through town in February.

If you are more of a warm-weather person, obviously you should save your Banff trip for the summertime.

Visiting in February has some perks, although it’s high season for the ski resorts, you can still get winter deals on Banff accommodation. Downtown Banff is also much quieter during this month than in the summer!

Keep in mind that you need winter tires to drive in the mountains in February. When renting a car it’s imperative you make sure you get a car with winter tires. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean your rental comes with winter tires either, you must specify this before hand.

Rent a Car for Your Trip

Check Rates from the Calgary Airport


Is it Safe to Drive to Banff in February?

It is safe to rent a car and drive in February, however be aware that winter is in full effect in February and you should be prepared for winter driving. It’s important to note that:

  • Canadian winters can be extremely harsh and dangerous for driving. If you are not an experienced winter driver and are planning on a magical Canadian winter trip you should take caution.
  • First, it’s important to get the right kind of vehicle for winter travel. A four-wheel drive truck or SUV might seem excessive – but there is a reason everyone has them here! If you don’t feel comfortable renting a larger car at least make sure your vehicle has winter tires.
  • Pay attention to road closures in the winter. Avalanches and high mountain passes pose a serious threat and if a road is closed, there is always a reason. 5.11 Alberta is the best source of up to date traffic and road information.
  • If conditions are poor don’t tailgate cars in front of you. Maintain a safe distance and only drive as fast as you are comfortable with. We’ve seen way too many accidents in the winter here.
  • If it is snowing too heavily and you don’t feel comfortable driving pull over and wait out the storm. Better yet – don’t leave your hotel! Getting in an accident is not worth your life so better to bundle up by the fire with a hot chocolate instead!

Where to Stay in Banff in February


Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

One of the most sought-after places to stay in Banff. It’s the only hotel actually on Lake Louise and in the winter there are some fun events at the hotel. The good news about winter here? It’s slightly cheaper than in the summer!

Check Rates

Mount Royal Hotel Banff

Mount Royal Hotel

One of the best hotels to stay in Downtown Banff. It’s right in the heart of the action on Banff Avenue, and rooms have been recently updated with new modern touches.

Check Rates

Baker Creek Mountain Resort

A great cabin that is a super cozy place to stay in the winter. There’s nothing better than sitting in front of the fire with a cup of tea here.

Check Rates


Hopefully, this helped you determine if you want to visit Banff in February.

If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.


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About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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4 thoughts on “Visiting Banff in February? Here’s All You NEED to Know”

  1. We are going to have a 10 day vacation trip to Banff on February, and this page has been really helpful to me.
    You have a great Blog. Thanks for the information.

    Reply

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