This guide to the best things to do after dinner in Banff includes art hubs, stargazing, ice walks, and après-ski. Shrouded by high hills and jagged mountain summits, Banff is famed for its skiing and lakes, walking trails, and railroad history. The town buzzes with hikers in the summer and gets even busier with winter sporters when the snow falls.

    Granted, the most popular things to do in Banff are usually during daylight hours – ski descents, mountain treks, and scenic drives. But there's still loads after sunset, especially if you still have plenty of energy to burn after a day on the Alberta Rockies.

    1

    Ice skating on Lake Louise

    Glide over Canada's most famous frozen lake

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo
    • Nightlife
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Lake Louise is one of the jewels in the crown of Alberta. It cuts its way into the Rockies a little way outside of Banff itself – it takes about 40 minutes to get there from the downtown, using the main Trans-Canada Highway going north.

    During the colder months between December and April, the whole lake surface hardens to become one massive natural ice rink. Parts of it are lit up until 11 pm, so you can whiz around on your blades under the shadow of the dagger-like peaks, huge Fairview Mountain silhouetted like a sleeping giant in the distance.

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    2

    Banff distilleries

    Sample gin and whiskey made with mountain water

    • Nightlife

    Banff is something of a hotspot for whiskey lovers and liquor drinkers. The town counts a handful of acclaimed and even award-winning distilleries. They're great for a pre- or post-dinner tipple, or even a few cocktails to take you into the wee hours.

    Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar is one of the closest to Banff’s center. Its skilled bartenders concoct in-house gins made with glacier water and serve a tingly vodka infused with chili. Further south in Canmore is the Canmore Brewery and Distillery, which has IPAs and APAs galore, along with a fantastic day tour that you can do if you're lucky enough to come away without a hangover.

    3

    artsPlace Canmore

    From poetry to handicrafts

    • Families
    • Nightlife

    The artsPlace Canmore hosts a regular array of daytime and night-time events throughout the year. As the name implies, it's just down the road from Banff proper, in Canmore. The drive should take about 20 minutes.

    The schedule here is very varied. Everything from art exhibits showcasing upcoming youth photographers to running workshops by local crafters is in the offing. There are also occasional movie screenings and poetry performances. You really never know what you'll get, so be sure to check online before you arrive.

    Location: 950 8 Ave, Canmore, AB T1W 2T1, Canada

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 9 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm

    Phone: +1 403-609-2623

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    4

    Banff Center for Arts and Creativity

    A great place to learn something new in Banff

    • Families
    • Nightlife

    The Banff Center for Arts and Creativity has a long history of leading the cultural scene in this mountain resort. It's been going since 1933 and occupies a campus on the edge of the Bow River. You can walk there in about 20 minutes from the city centre.

    During the day, folks flock to see the cutting-edge installation exhibits of the Walter Phillips Gallery. After dinner, it's possible to watch early-career classical musicians perform in the auditoriums, attend talks about Canadian history, and watch art-house movies at the Jenny Belzberg Theater – it all depends on what the box office has planned.

    Location: 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr, Banff, AB T1L 1H5, Canada

    Phone: +1 403-762-6100

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    photo by Staib (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    5

    Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk

    Frozen waterfalls and their shadows

    • Nightlife
    • Adventure

    The Johnston Canyon Evening Icewalk is the after-dark activity of choice for adventure seekers in Banff. This journey into the mountain valleys around Banff takes about 2.5 hours and delves into the rugged rocks in the shadow of Mystic Peak, some 25 minutes north of the town center.

    You'll be equipped with a headlamp to help navigate the snow-caked fir trees on the way in. You'll get to witness the incredible walls of frozen water in the so-called Cathedral of Ice, a series of dramatic cataracts stopped in time. Later, lamps go off so that you can see the stars twinkling in the clear winter skies overhead.

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    photo by John Vetterli (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    High Rollers Banff

    Hit a strike with your family and friends

    • Families
    • Nightlife
    • Group

    High Rollers Banff is part bowling alley, part pizzeria, part 1950s-style rockabilly hangout. It's located in the thick of the action in the middle of the resort, right at the base of Banff Avenue and just a couple of steps from the Bow River.

    With a closing time of 2 am right throughout the week, you can drop in after dinner or well after dinner and still grab a drink. The craft beers – over 48 varieties of unique flavors – go well with a bowling lane and good company. You can rent bowling shoes onsite. Note that it's a maximum of 8 people per lane.

    Location: 110 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A4, Canada

    Open: Sunday–Friday from 4 pm to 2 am, Saturday from noon to 2 am

    Phone: +1 403-762-2695

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    7

    Lux Movie theater

    A taste of Hollywood in the mountains

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Nightlife

    Lux Movie theater might only have 4 screens but it's the go-to place for movie buffs looking to see the latest Hollywood hits. It's gotten a very convenient central location, just 2 blocks to the west of Banff Avenue, on Bear Street.

    There are multiple screenings of multiple titles every single evening of the week, with the latest starting at around 10 pm. There are the usual popcorn stands and sweet stalls to stock up at in the foyer. During normal hours, Lux also hosts a series of escape rooms, which are great for a rainy day in the Canadian Rockies. You can book your tickets online before arriving.

    Location: 229 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1H8, Canada

    Phone: +1 403-762-8612

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    8

    Mt Norquay Night Skiing

    Carve up the slopes in the dark

    • Nightlife
    • Adventure

    The Mt Norquay Night Skiing program is your chance to cut up the powder of the Canadian Rockies even after the sun's gone down. It takes place at Mt Norquay, the closest of the so-called Big Three resorts in the vicinity of Banff, just a 10-minute drive out of the center.

    The floodlights go on to illuminate a handful of the mountain's 60 runs. There's a good mix of challenging options for seasoned skiers and chilled runs for families and learners. You can also hit the snow park to pull your best tricks in the crisp cold of the Alberta evening.

    Location: 2 Mt Norquay Rd, Banff, AB T1L 1B4, Canada

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 403-762-4421

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    9

    Stargazing at Lake Minnewanka

    Catch the Northern Lights on a lucky night

    • Couples
    • Nightlife

    Stargazing at Lake Minnewanka is about ditching the bright lights and streets of downtown Banff for a part of the Rockies where the skies are simply jaw-dropping. That doesn't actually take that long – a 15-minute taxi cab ride can do it for you, going just to the east up to the Steward Canyon Bridge.

    This is where you'll find the beginning of Lake Minnewanka, the second-longest lake in the mountain chain. After dark, it's known for offering prime vistas of the open cosmos, which invariably get filled with glittering constellations and even, occasionally, the Northern Lights. Also, look out for the shadowy outlines of Mount Girouard and Mount Peechee in the distance.

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    10

    Banff Avenue

    The pulse of the resort after dark

    • Shoppers
    • Nightlife

    Banff Avenue is the main artery of the whole resort of Banff. It bends through the center of the town in a long dogleg, running more than 4 km from Tunnel Mountain Road in the east to the Bow River in the west. But it's the part between Wolf Street and the water that you need to know about.

    Steakhouses, noir cocktail bars, informative visitor centres with hiking maps and more, breweries, outdoor clothing outfitters – there's all sorts tucked into that short strip. Banff Avenue is the place to go for a little bit of post-dinner souvenir shopping and drinking.

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    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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