Christmas is the most magical time of year and there’s no better way to experience it than at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Get a look into our yearly family tradition of Christmas at the Castle including all of the activities offered for hotel guests and some for the public too! Plus, get s sneak peek into the first-ever Mini Santa Suites, now ready to book!
Christmas at the Castle
Do you have family traditions that you celebrate every year during the holidays? Our family of four stumbled upon a new tradition after spending a night at the Fairmont Banff Springs 7 years ago. This majestic Canadian Pacific Railway hotel was built in 1888 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s located in the postcard-perfect town of Banff, Alberta and is quietly nestled in the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The iconic view from the Surprise Corner on Tunnel Mountain lookout gives you the distinct aura of that you’ve arrived at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Well, at least, I like to pretend so. It’s no wonder it’s affectionately called “The Castle” by both of my kids and so many others.
Christmas at The Castle begins every year at the end of November and lasts until just after New Years’. The Banff Springs hotel transforms into the North Pole. Each day is filled with scheduled activities that really get you into the holiday spirit. After our first stay in 2011, it’s no surprise that we’ve made this our family tradition every year since. It’s part of our Christmas gift to our children: the memories we’re creating as a family together.
Upon arrival at the Castle, you’ll receive an itinerary of activities available for hotel guests. This is also available online if you prefer to pre-plan! Make sure to give yourself time to experience all of the activities that you can, as your kids will not want to miss any of these experiences. It’s what makes this stay so magical. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Ice Skating with Santa – bring your ice skates and get a chance to skate with Mr. Claus on the terrace outdoor rink.
- Crafts with Mrs. Claus – this is always a family favourite for us. Mrs. Claus works all year long to create beautiful sets of crafts that you and your kids will love to recreate. Make sure to book a timeslot to ensure a seat. This year, the crafts were located in the Gatehouse (a.k.a. The North Pole) area of the hotel.
- Snowflake Scavenger Hunt – this activity is available not only to hotel guests but to the public. If you want a fun way to explore the hotel while visiting Banff in December, then head to the concierge and ask for the Scavenger Hunt card. Find the snowflakes hidden in the first three levels of the hotel and your kids will be rewarded with a dig in the treasure chest upon completion!
- Family Swim Time– The indoor/outdoor pool area is likely where you’ll spend a lot of time with your littles. Over the past few years, the hotel has added some fun foam floaties and our kids never seem to want to get out of the pool.
- Campfire and Marshmallows – the Upper Graden Terrace hosts an hour of hot chocolate and marshmallow roasting. A perfect way to take in the sunset and the Rocky Mountain views.
- Bedtime Stories with Mrs. Claus – End your perfect day by getting into your pajamas, bring your pillow and snuggle in a cozy room to listen to Mrs. Claus read a variety of holiday stories.
Mini Santa Suites
New to the Fairmont Banff this year is the addition of four Santa Suites. These spectacular rooms are outlandishly decorated in the most beautiful Christmas Trees and decorations that you’ve ever seen. Cory Christopher is an Alberta designer who can take credit for most of the lavish décor that you’ll see this year around the hotel and in the Santa Suites.
We felt extremely to be the very first family to ever stay in the Enchanted Forest suite. It felt like something out of a Frozen movie, with white flocked trees, ornaments, garland, hanging snowflakes, and even a linen teepee tent. I filmed my boys as they opened the door to their room and the looks on their faces were absolutely priceless.
There are two suites reservable for families and two for couples. Each room also includes breakfast at the Vermillion Room or Stock Café plus complimentary valet parking and access to the Willow Steam Spa (for guests 18+). I would say for the upgraded price, this is totally worth it.
The over-sized rooms are located across the outdoor courtyard and round-about, in the Conference Centre. Please note that it can be a long walk through the hotel to access amenities but if you’re willing to brave the cold for a couple of minutes, it is a much quicker route to the lobby. This way is also wheelchair and stroller accessible.
As a last little extra, The Castle has added some great Instagrammable locations around the hotel. So take your perfect photo opportunity. Check out the Gatehouse (The North Pole) for many different double-sided trifolds in the Christmas themes. There are a couple in front of Grapes and in Riverview Lounge.
See one of my first blog posts from 2015 here: Canadian Wonderland in Banff
Disclaimer: This post was inspired by our complimentary stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Claus and the rest of the wonderful staff for our memorable stay. All thoughts, opinions and photos are my own and property of Pursuing Pretty.