Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise

Everything you need to know about the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival

Caught in the act!

The Husqvarna roars again. My daughter, wide-eyed, looks at me in awe. Cozy inside the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, we peer through the frosted window panes, watching 24 ice carvers hoist their weapons and create whimsical works of art out of 300 pound blocks of ice. This is our unofficial welcome to the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival in Banff National Park.

Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise

An artist at work. (Photo credit: Kelly MacDonald_

Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival

Last January, we hit Lake Louise, to take in their internationally acclaimed Ice Magic Festival. It had been awhile since our family undertook a winter weekend away. Since Eve decided at the ripe old age of six, she’d never ski again, it hardly seemed worth the cost and effort. Were we ever fools! What kind of idiot parent lets their kid dictate what you do? That’s me, guilty as charged.

Instead of hibernating for yet another winter, we decided to celebrate our frozen assets. Toting toques, boots and skates, off we barrelled over to Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise

Lake Louise really is that turquoise.

Now don’t let this brand synonymous with luxury and grandeur put you off. It’s more family friendly than you think. Here, children are treated as important guests with their own check-in area and menu options besides burgers and fries. There’s usually lots of family programming during Ice Magic Festival weekends, too.

Even the loudest (yet most important) family members are welcome. For an additional $25 our dog Buddy, could’ve joined in the fun. But sometimes you need a break from the kids to really relax, so we pawned off the pooch for the weekend.

Ice Castle in Lake Louise

kids skating lake louise

Childhood fantasies come to life

No matter the weather, quintessential winter activities abound at Lake Louise. Rippling around the frozen lake, Eve darted in and out of the ice castle, pausing only to roast marshmallows over the open fire pit.

Winter Lake Louise

Roaring bonfires help warm up cold digits.

While Dad amused himself at the Ice Bar, we gals snuggled under warm blankets, and toured around the Lake on the horse-drawn Brewster Sleigh Ride. For a change of scenery, we romped around the Ice Playground (located at the shopping plaza in town), trying our hand at ice mini golf and cruising down the ice slide. And as you can see, warming up after being outdoors for so long is never a problem. Some years, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise even has an ice bar outside.

mother and daughter hot chocolate

No such thing as too much whipped cream.

Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise

This year’s Ice Magic Festival takes place January 16-27, 2019. You can watch the ice carving competition the first weekend or view the finished sculptures after the 18th. It’s free to attend Monday to Friday, and on the weekends if you arrive before 10 am or after 5:30 pm. If you’re visiting during peak hours on a weekend, you’ll need to nab tickets.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it out during the festival, the ice castle and sculptures stay for the duration of winter, making it a worthy family destination. Even in April you’ll likely be able to spot some of the sculptures..

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Have you ever been to Lake Louise for their Ice Magic Festival?

Would you like to go?

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About the Author:

I’m a freelance writer with bad hair, a loud mouth and a serious case of wanderlust. Whether it’s luggage, time or just life, I cram as much as possible into small compartments. Warning: Contents may shift during flight. My life is one bumpy ride! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.


  1. Maria 16.01.2013 at 01:22 - Reply

    Thanks for the little reminder that we NEED to take our kids to this festival! Just booked our room and will be heading out there this weekend. They are going to go crazy skating in that ice castle!

  2. Jody 16.01.2013 at 02:54 - Reply

    Yeah! Party on the pond.

  3. I had planned to go to the festival last year but you need to go EARLY if you don’t want to be on a shuttle bus. We were in the area but decide against going because it was NUTS at the turnoff to Lake Louise. You’d be fine first thing in the morning though.
    Very cute photos.

  4. […] Ice Magic at Lake Louise […]

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