Canada Day 2017 in Banff

This year marks Canada’s 150th birthday, and what better place to celebrate Canada Day 2017 than in the town of Banff, surrounded by the awe inspiring scenery of Canada’s first National Park. With Parks Canada offering free park passes throughout 2017, entry to Banff National Park will be free of charge this year, so there is no excuse not to join us for the wide range of family friendly events offered by the town of Banff on July 1 2017.

Canada Day Events & Activities

Why not start the day with a free pancake breakfast from 9am to 11am on the Banff High School field, found on the corner of Banff Avenue and Wolf Street. The views from the High School are actually quite amazing, so it’s an ideal place to begin your day in the mountains. Also from 9am to 11am, the sidewalk outside the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Bear Street) will be the canvas for Children’s Sidewalk Art, which is always lots of fun for kids of all ages.
From 11am the Banff Artisan and Farmers Market will open at Central Park (Buffalo Street and Bear Street), where you’ll find an array of local produce from Alberta and BC, as well as crafts, food stalls and tasty treats.
The highlight of the day will no doubt be the Banff Canada Day Parade from 11.30am to 12.30pm along Banff Avenue from Fox Street to Buffalo Street, which will include the usual impressive selection of spectacular floats and marching bands, with plenty of great viewing spots along Banff Avenue.
Back at the High School field from 1pm, kids are sure to enjoy the Steve Harmer Magic Show, and old fashioned games with Isabelle Cliche. This will be followed by a variety of performances throughout the afternoon, including Blackfoot Medicine Speaks, Polish-Canadian Dancers, Parks Canada’s Mountain WIT (interpretive theatre), Filipino Traditional Dancers, finishing with a second performance from magician Steve Harmer at 6pm.
Canada Day afternoon/evening in Central Park will be equally exciting with live musical and dance performances by The Swillbillies, Verkhovyna Ukrainian Dancers, The Wardens, Dance For Joy Studio, Brad Brewer, The Calgary Fiddlers, Amelie Patterson, Elk Run & Riot, The Steadies, culminating with Japanese Drumming Group Midnight Taiko from 10pm.
Rounding off the Banff 2017 Canada Day celebrations there will be the traditional firework display from 11pm.

For the full schedule of events, visit the Town of Banff website.

Accommodations

Canada Day in Banff is always busy and July 1 2017 will be no exception. Availability at Banff hotels will be very limited over the Canada Day weekend, and it is highly recommended that you book your stay early in order to secure a room. Many properties will require a 2 day minimum stay.
Most hotels are within easy walking distance of downtown, where the Parade and special events will be taking place. Alternatively the local Roam Transit bus service is the best way to get into downtown if you prefer not to walk.
Camping is also a great option in the summer, and Banff campgrounds will also need to be reserved well in advance.
If you cannot find a suitable place to stay in Banff, the town of Canmore is a good alternative being an easy 20 minutes drive east on the Trans Canada Highway.

Shopping & Restaurants

Although Canada Day is a National Holiday, the vast majority of shops and restaurants in Banff will be open as usual, with the exception of institutions such as the banks and post office. With the high number of visitors expected in town it would make sense to make restaurant reservations in advance if you already know where you would like to eat. Alternatively, eating outside of the regular lunch and dinner hours will give you the best chance of getting a table without waiting.

The Best Walks and Hikes from Banff Town Site

Getting out into nature and the beautiful mountain landscape is fortunately easy and hassle free from almost anywhere in the Town of Banff. The Town of Banff is essentially an island of 4.85 square km (1.87 sq miles) surrounded by Banff National Park. Because of strict federal rules on growth, population and urban sprawl, Banff cannot expand beyond pre-determined set boundaries. This makes escaping the busy town extremely quick and easy, making wilderness very accessible for all. It also makes returning to civilization quick and rewarding with the plethora of fine eating establishments within the town.

There are literally dozens of amazing walking and hiking opportunities right from town but here are my top 3 picks for getting out there, from easy gentle flat strolls to extreme mountain scrambles; rated from easiest to hardest.

1. The Bow River Walk

Time: 20 minutes return, can be extended to 45 mins.
Key features: flat, paved part way, scenic.

A paved path wide enough to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs dotted with benches hugs the east side of the famous scenic Bow River which runs through the town. Start near the boat docks and stroll along the river, past Central Park and the gazebo, under Banff’s main vehicle bridge, past some gorgeous river homes to the new awarding winning pedestrian bridge which is well worth crossing and lingering on. Return from the river boat docks to the new pedestrian bridge is about 20 mins at a leisurely stroll. You can continue onward if so inclined as the path does continues along the other side of the river and left or east towards the Bow Falls and the famous Banff Springs Hotel. The paved path does end here but the dirt trail is well maintained. Carry on along the more shaded side of the river up a set of log stairs over a small hill to the spectacular Bow Falls, the Banff Springs Golf Course and the hotel – about another 20 mins one way.

2. Tunnel Mountain aka Sleeping Buffalo

Time: 1 hour round trip to the summit
Key features: Steepish, well maintained, popular, switchback hiking trail. Great views along the way and from the summit.

This is a great taste of what hiking is all about in the Canadian Rockies. The terrain gives you a proper sense of what it’s like to hike up a real mountain. With a relatively short distance to the summit, this hike allows for a quick fix and real sense of achievement in a short amount of time. This is a great first hike for active kids as young as 4. Even on this relatively short hike always come prepared with proper walking footwear, water and a windproof jacket.

There are 2 trailheads for this hike. The first is approx. 10 mins walk lower down the mountain. This lower trailhead is the official start with a large parking lot located just below the Banff Centre Arts School along St. Julien Road. The second trailhead has a much smaller parking area and is really best for non-hikers and more for a quick photo op.

The hike features long switchbacks through an old pine forest and scenic views west towards the beautiful Mt. Bourgeau and down onto the Town of Banff itself. The summit features views over the back side of the mountain east towards Canmore, the Banff Springs Golf Course and on a good day to the impressive Mt. Aylmer.

3. Mt. Rundle – 2949m

Key features: 1500 elevation gain, some route finding, outstanding views.

Mt. Rundle is one of the most iconic and impressive mountains within walking distance of the town of Banff. It towers over the eastern edge of the town arching into the clouds with a distinctive knife edge summit. This is not a hike for the first timers but a scramble exclusively for serious climbers who have experience trudging through rugged scree at high elevations. The reward of reaching the summit via the famous Dragon’s Back is well worth the minimum 6 hour uphill slog. If this hike is up your alley download or pick up “A Scramblers Guide to Mount Rundle” (pdf) for all the necessary trail information.

If you’re particularly interested in walks and hikes in Banff National Park, I would highly suggest purchasing the absolute bible on the subject and the only guide book I would recommend – “Canadian Rockies Trail Guide” by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson.

What to Wear in Banff

In general Banff has a very casual feel where anything goes from athletic wear to fur coats. However I did see a lady just the other day in a full length fox fur walking down the main street in Banff and even though it was minus 20 she did look quite out of place. Not to say that fur isn’t present as the main street has been recently heavily dotted with the trendy fur pom pom hat – in my opinion the locally owned shop Snowflake sell the best ones. Banff town site has certainly upped its game in recent years with fashion statements from Japan, Europe and the local Calgarians. It’s a place where fashion and function collide and having a bit of both is probably your best bet. Layering is always a good idea with a wind cutting layer being the most important. Down and wool layers are also good in the fall and winter months. Spring does bring rain so if you’re visiting Banff in May or June bring your rain gear with warm layering underneath. The opposite is usually the case in July and August with temperatures soaring into the high 20’s, along with the high altitude, sun hats are de rigueur. Remember Banff is in the mountains and swift and dramatic weather fluctuations are normal – it’s even been known to snow in July!
Nightlife and dining out in Banff in general is very casual with an anything goes policy for the majority of restaurants. The finer dining establishments like the Three Ravens at the Banff Centre and Eden at the Rimrock Hotel do have a more upscale appeal where jeans are definitely frowned upon and a suit would look acceptable though certainly is not required – when in doubt I suggest dressing down to avoid feeling out of place in the very casual Banff.

If you plan on doing any sort of sporting activities while in Banff such as hiking, rafting, horse riding, skiing or snowboarding, check out my article on Technical Active Clothing To Wear in Banff.

The Top Clothing Shops in Banff

1. Lole – 130 Banff Ave
2. Monods – 129 Banff Ave
3. Cabin 108 – 108 Banff Ave
4. Roots – 227 Banff Ave
7. Lulu Lemon – 121 Banff Avenue
8. Patagonia – 94 Banff Avenue
9. Fjallraven – 216 Banff Avenue

Top Fashion Statements in Banff Right Now

1. The Fur Pom Pom Hat, like this one from Snowflake


www.snowflakecanada.com

2. Fur Collared Winter Coats, like theses from Canada Goose


www.canadagoose.com

3. Stylish backpacks from Fjall Raven


www.fjallravencanada.com

4. Sorel Winter Boots


www.sorelfootwear.ca

5. The Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket for Men


www.patagonia.com

Banff’s Hottest New Restaurant Openings

Chuck’s SteakHouse

For a true Alberta Beef experience, where steaks are seared over mesquite, rested, then finished in a 1600F Montague grill. This place is a haven for the high roller cowboy with an intimate and professionally designed log cabin meets art deco interior. Located in the heart of town with some great views over the main street this jumping steak house is carefully watched over by the well known local executive chef Sal Polizzi. Some of my favorite dishes are:
Cowboy Onion Soup roasted bone marrow, gruyere cheese, onion broth, onion rings $14
Garlic Prawns and Pork Belly garlic butter, cherry tomatoes, arugula $16
Black Apron ‘Grass Fed’ Angus, New York 10oz, aged 28 days $45
Dinner only from 5pm, 101 Banff Ave. Call 403-762-4825
Website

Pacini

An Italian inspired chain restaurant with a casual and friendly ambience located in The Moose Hotel and Suites at 345 Banff Avenue. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Check out the sample menu:
Lasagna Bolognese Oven-baked using fresh pasta $19.50
Italian Crusted Cod 5 oz. Oven-roasted cod, herb and roasted garlic crust, served with your choice of Italian or Caesar salad $24.50
Parmigiana Fries Matchstick fries, julienned zucchini and fried onion, Parmesan, fine herbs $8.40
Website

The Juniper Hotel Bistro

One of my favorite places just got a whole lot better. This is the place for people in the know, slightly away from all the crowds offering stunning views and now an incredible new menu courtesy of new general manager/executive chef Chris Irving. The handcrafted and sustainable inspired menu offers up unique and satisfying dishes such as, for breakfast:
The Juniper Benny with bannock, buffalo mozzarella, braised rabbit, medium-poached eggs, hollandaise & juniper berry glaze served w/ brown butter hash, or Huevos Rancheros with BBQ pork shoulder, refried beans, tomato salsa, sunny side eggs, avocado, cheddar, corn tortillas.
For dinner:
Beef Ribeye – grilled Alberta beef ribeye, with butternut squash, sunchoke, seasonal vegetables, in a yummy mornay sauce or Ling Cod with lemongrass & coconut curry, young potatoes, seasonal vegetables, chili oil, sesame all done to perfection and delicious!
Oh and don’t forget the liquid dessert-my favorite is The Banff Fog with Vanilla Galliano, Grand Marnier, Earl Grey tea, served hot with cinnamon!
Open for Breakfast, Apres ski, and Dinner. Located at the bottom of the Norquay Road. Call 403-763-6219
Website