Where to Go for a Great Evening out in Banff

There are plenty of options for an evening out in Banff
There are plenty of options for an evening out in Banff | © Dan Leeth / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Patrick Twomey
30 September 2020

Think of Banff and the Rockies, wilderness and skiing come to mind. But there’s also plenty to do in the evening – thanks to the huge number of people who come for the outdoors but stay for the party. Here’s our guide to the best places to head to after dark.

Harking back to the posher roots of Banff, in Alberta National Park, Canada, there’s the grand Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise, which maintain a certain elegance and refined service. Here you can dine or grab a drink – for a price. But there are other evening activities such as live music, bowling and a pub atmosphere to enjoy. Late nights in Alberta tend to wrap up around 2am when liquor can longer be served.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Resort, Suite Hotel, Spa Hotel, Luxury

Built to finance the train that would unite Canada, the Fairmont Banff Springs fuses Scottish, French (Canadian) and the mountain environment. Much of the hotel’s business comes from conferences, weddings and high-end group tours, but the restaurants and lounges are open to the public. There is nothing budget about it – the numerous restaurants and lounges are all pricy, as are hotel rooms – but you get what you pay for. The service is excellent and the staff combine an enthusiasm for the environment with good product knowledge. For a night out, choose a restaurant here, then retire to one of the lounges where on some nights you can enjoy live music.

Everything you need to know

Beers and Bowling at High Rollers

Bar, American
Map View

Bowling may sound a little old-school, but it is relatively new to Banff Avenue. At High Rollers, downstairs in a former dance club, you’ll find the pizzas are popular, the beer well priced and the bowling 10-pin. With its fun-for-all-ages vibe, High Rollers can be a night out unto itself, or a social beginning to an evening of pub-crawling or dancing. It is worth reserving a bowling lane in advance.

Hot Springs

Spa, Swimming Pool, Health Spa
Map View
The pool at Sulphur Moutain Hot Springs, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
© Russ Bishop / Alamy Stock Photo

Banff grew after the discovery of the natural hot water seeping through the limestone of Sulphur Mountain. The Upper Hot Springs, close to the Gondola and Rimrock Hotel, are particularly appealing during the winter months when outside temperatures can dip below -30C (-22F). The outdoor pool, which is open in the evenings, is wonderfully soothing after skiing or hiking. If you are unfamiliar with bathing outside in freezing temperatures, you’ll be amazed by how quickly your core warms up, while frost may form on your hair. The hot springs are run by Parks Canada and there is a cafe on site.

Night Skiing & Tubing

Resort
Map View

Mount Norquay, just above Banff, is the smallest of the three resorts in the National Park, with skiing and snowboarding for all levels – including a few double-black runs. As the winter season develops, Norquay turns on the lights on a Friday evening for night skiing. Evening tubing is particularly exhilarating. Skiing in the Canadian Rockies generally begins in early to mid-November and may continue all the way to May if the snow holds out. Norquay provides bus transfers from Banff town centre. If you happen to be in Banff on New Year’s Eve, watch for the torchlit celebration on the slopes, visible from town.

The Rose & Crown

Bar, Pub, Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
Map View

Local, central and authentic, the Rose & Crown is typical of pub restaurants in the region that combine food and drinking. Both are relaxed and friendly, and there’s a roof-top patio that remains open as long as the weather permits. The pub will often have local, live music, but come early to grab a seat seat by the fireplace. The owners also run Wild Bill’s Saloon across the street, a Banff institution for parties and live music. Bring your cowboy boots!

Skating on Lake Louise

Natural Feature, Park
Map View
Winter ice skating at Lake Louise, Banff Alberta Canada
© Rick Rudnicki / Alamy Stock Photo
Chateau Lake Louise develops and maintains a rink on the lake every winter which is lit up in the evening. This may be one of the most quintessential Canadian activities you can do in the Rockies and what a setting. The rink changes every year and the ice is natural, so this may not be the place to learn if you’re a beginner. But with a little ability and confidence you can experience real ice and even join in a game of shinny (friendly drop-in ice hockey). Rentals are available in the hotel, which has an indoor bar overlooking the rink and an outdoor ice bar in winter high season. Every January, Lake Louise hosts Ice Magic, featuring among the best ice-carving in the world.

Dancing Sasquatch

Cocktail Bar, Nightclub, Canadian, $$$
Map View

Lest you think there is no dancing in Banff, the Dancing Sasquatch is a nightclub with a cool city vibe and as much dance music as you can handle in a province that’s generally keener on rock and country music. Although the good residents of Banff asks you to please be quiet when exiting somewhere between 2am and 3am.

These recommendations were updated on September 30, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.