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Author: Mhairri Woodhall

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Mhairri now lives in Calgary with her husband and daughter. Specializing in family, luxury and culinary focused travel, Mhairri loves exploring her new province, nourishing her wanderlust and writing about her adventures.

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My daughter’s rosy cheeks double in size when she’s smiling and although it’s dark, I know that her big blue eyes are shining with excitement. Wrapping my arm around her, we snuggle closer under our warm blanket and gaze up at the incredible night sky. The stars in Banff National Park seem closer, brighter and somehow more spectacular than in the city.

Although our horse-drawn sleigh is full, the conversation has quietened. Now the only sound we hear is the soft jingle of the bells on harnesses of the horses and the occasional whinny.

A Moonlit Winter Wonderland

Our 45-minute adventure started at Warner Stables near the town of Banff. Before heading out to explore some of Bow River Valley’s mountain meadows, we met the horses and our cowboy guide Dan, and learned a little about the working ranch they call home. Upon boarding the 12-person sleigh, we journeyed into what feels like a remote wilderness. It’s almost difficult to believe that this pristine snow draped landscape, lit only by starlight and a crescent moon, is just minutes from Banff. We’re now heading back to the stables to toast marshmallows and enjoy warm apple cider by the fire. What a blissful way to spend a winter evening.

Experience A Banff Holiday Tradition

Visiting Banff on the first weekend in December has become a tradition for our family. It’s beautiful in the Canadian Rockies at this time of year and it’s also the official kick-off for the Christmas season. Last night we joined the hundreds of locals and visitors lining Banff Avenue to watch the Santa Claus Parade of Lights. A procession of colorful floats and choreographed dance performances dazzled the crowd. Candy was tossed, carols were sung, hot chocolate was sipped and children were mesmerized.

Canadian Rockies Christmas Cheer

The parade was the grand finale of our fun-filled day, which included a flurry of events like the outdoor Christmas on Wolf Street party, where we danced to live music and roasted marshmallows over a fire pit. Face painters, balloon twisters and horse drawn wagon rides at the Whyte Museum were a few of the other activities we took part in throughout the day. Next year, we’ve promised our daughter that we’ll add skiing to the lineup. Sunshine Village has a great children’s ski program and offers on mountain childcare, so that parents can take full advantage of the epic powder snow the Canadian Rockies are famous for.

Santa, sleigh rides and skiing – what more could a girl ask for?

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