There is no place to ice skate in Banff more iconic or scenic than the famous Lake Louise. Not much of a surprise, but it’s regularly been considered one of the world’s best ice skating rinks. It’s also tremendous as the frozen lake is maintained by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The lake is regularly cleared of snow and resurfaced so visitors can enjoy ice skating during the winter despite conditions on other natural lakes.
What really sets Lake Louise apart from the other lakes is the lake’s atmosphere. Around the lakeshore, you can find fires, an ice bar, horse sleigh, and an ice castle. It’s one best reasons to come to Banff in winter and it’s always a treat.
Lake Louise Ice Skating
Lake Louise is Stunning
Lake Louise is amazing no matter what time of year you visit. Even in the winter, there is something magical about this amazing lake with Mount Victoria in the background. Lake Louise has even been named by CNN Travel as “one of the most beautiful ice skating rinks in the world.” And with a mention like that, you can’t miss ice skating on Lake Louise while you are visiting Banff.
It’s an All Natural Rink
In case it wasn’t clear ice skating at Lake Louise is an all natural experience. There’s nothing man-made about this ice. It’s all pure Canadian Rocky lake goodness. The lake starts to freeze around November, and by December it should be completely good to skate and walk on.
Once the Fairmont’s Ice Rink is maintained you can rest assured it’s safe to walk on, but if you’re heading out before in the early season make sure to check the ice for thickness. Ice should be at least 4 inches thick before you can skate on it. The best way to test ice is with an ice screw.
Lake Louise is Maintained Daily
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise maintains the ice rink on Lake Louise daily. They clear it every morning of snowfall and keep it maintained from mid-December all the way to mid-April, but that’s depending on conditions. They even have a Zamboni (a machine that resurfaces the ice). This means that every so often they bust out the Zamboni and shave a thin layer off the top, washing the ice, and this replaces the top with a fresh layer of water that will freeze and look crystal clear.
Ice Skating on Lake Louise is Free
Yes, ice skating on Lake Louise, one of the most beautiful places in the world is entirely free. There’s no charge to skate here, but if you need to rent ice skates you can easily do so at the Fairmont. Also, you’re likely going to get chilly if you are out for some time so either bring a warm drink canister with you or plan to have hot chocolate inside the chateau.
You Can Admire Ice Carvings
Every year the Fairmont invites ice sculptures to create a beautiful and intricate ice castle out of huge blocks at the front of Lake Louise. It’s in celebration to highlight the most stunning rink in the world.
If you’re visiting Banff in January you should also check out the Ice Magic Festival which lasts for 12 days around January 15 – 26 (check dates first though), there is a very special 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.
It’s free to visit the ice carving events between Monday – Friday and on the weekends before 10 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. During peak times on the weekend, an admission fee is charged. If you can’t make the dates of the actual Ice Magic events don’t worry, the carvings will be on display throughout February.
You Can Skate on Lake Louise at Night
Remember when I said that Lake Louise is free? Well, that’s because it’s in a national park, and that means it’s open to the public. This means if you are comfortable you can skate on Lake Louise under the stars. Just make sure to bring a toque, scarf, and warm jacket – it’s without a doubt going to be cold.
Three’s a Dedicated Hockey Rink
Ice skating at Lake Louise doesn’t just mean putting on a pair of figure skates and skating around in a circle if you don’t want to! There’s a dedicated rink just for the hockey players. So bring your hockey sticks and a puck and enjoy it!
Lake Louise Skate Rentals Hours And Cost
There are a few options to rent ice skates at Lake Louise if you don’t have your own.
Skates are available for rent in the Fairmont Chateau Hotel through Chateau Ski And Snow, located just off the lobby. You can also rent hockey sticks and pucks to use on the hockey rink.
Skate Rentals from the Fairmont:
Half Day Rental: Adults $23 | Children $13
Full Day Rental: Adults $33 | Children $23
You can also rent skates from Wilson Sports in the Lake Louise Village for $12 or in Banff at Banff Adventures for $15 a day.
You Can Skate on a Bright Blue Paradise
If you’re lucky, and I mean super lucky you might get a clear ice skate day on Lake Louise. Which means you can ice skate on clear blue water. Lake Louise every few winters can freeze very early before a significant snowfall and the result is a blue glass lake. It’s an absolutely stunning natural occurrence and can happen in November, but don’t count on seeing the lake this way as November is generally the worst month to visit Banff, so you’ll mainly find locals enjoying it around this time.
To see the lake like this is a very short window, and by short, I mean super short. This past year people only had one day to skate on Lake Louise while it was clear. The key is to catching Lake Louise when it’s safely frozen over, but before the snow falls again and covers it.
There’s Plenty of Other Things to do on Lake Louise in the Winter!
There are so many amazing things to do at Lake Louise in the winter. From skiing at Lake Louise ski resort to enjoying a horse drawn sleigh ride, it’s a magical time to enjoy the lake. See the best things to do at Lake Louise below.
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