Winter in Lake Louise (Banff National Park) is perfect. The Ice Magic Festival features beautiful ice sculptures right outside the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise. It might be chilly, but there’s nothing like bundling up warm for a winter season in Banff National Park.
My girlfriend and I visited Lake Louise, Alberta Canada for Banff National Park’s Ice Magic Festival. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the host site for the ice carvings, was packed with excited guests and festival patrons.
I, for one, was incredibly honoured to help celebrate the contributions Canadians have made these past 150 years. Canadians are fiercely proud of their country and it shows. For those who have yet to visit Lake Louise, winter is a perfect time. Put Lake Louise on your bucket list as soon as possible. Regardless of the season, it’s unbelievable. The lake, typically its famous turquoise colour, is transformed by snow and ice during winter. The lake ice is thick and people skate and play hockey on the ice.
Ice carvers travel to Banff National Park for the 10-day festival in order to build works of art out of the ice blocks, many weighing more than 300 pounds. This year’s festival theme was Canada – True North, due to the nation’s special birthday. An important tip for travellers: The Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada is becoming one of the most popular events in Banff National Park.
Expect the festival to be busy. Take advantage of the free days, which are hosted on week days, and if you want to stay, book a hotel in the quaint village. Regardless if you’re driving or not, start each day in Lake Louise early, because the parking lots at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise fill up quickly. A shuttle bus is available to take passengers up the hill as well, but you may have to wait, as there’s more people visiting the ice carvings and attractions than there are buses.
Even if it’s busy, the ice festival is well worth your time. For us, it’ll be difficult to forget the festival. There’s something new to photograph in every direction, thanks to the gorgeous mountain back drops. If you’re planning on spending time outdoors, ensure that you have a good coat, mitts to keep your hands warm and a toque or hat. You’ll thank me later; it can get really cold.
Yes, the air can be biting, but warm yourself with a hot drink in the chateau, or at the ice bar. The festival is also a good time to enjoy the trails around Lake Louise. But, in saying that, guests can and do spend most of the day examining the ice sculptures, talking to the artists, enjoying food at the chateau and spending time on the frozen lake.
Don’t forget to take a horse drawn sleigh ride to the end of the lake. It’s rather expensive, but a cute date for you and your loved one. Visitors can also walk to the lake end as well. However, one of the most memorable Lake Louise experiences during the winter is taking to the trails, either by hiking, snowshoeing or using cross country skis. My girlfriend and I strapped on our snowshoes and started up the trail toward Mirror Lake. In summer time, people can go as far as the tranquil Agnes Tea House.
However, during winter, enthusiasts can only go as far as Mirror Lake. The trail becomes a dangerous avalanche zone when the snowpack descends on the region. We experienced the utter stillness that winter provides those who are prepared enough to set out onto the trails. The snowcapped rocks, trees and lakes are picture perfect. However, if you’re going to be on the trails, ensure you have enough warm clothes, water for the day and a snack or two. Hiking or snowshoeing unprepared can be dangerous.