Day 1 - Vancouver
Welcome to Vancouver, Canada’s unofficial culinary capital! A welcome meeting will be held at 5pm this evening in the hostel foyer/lobby. If you don’t think you can arrive in time before this meeting it’s a good idea to arrive a day ahead. We can help you arrange additional accommodation. At the welcome meeting we’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information, so make sure you’ve got everything on hand to give to your leader.
After meeting your local leader and fellow travellers, perhaps head to the cobbled laneways in Gastown and check out the city’s best bars and restaurants. You can also choose to chow down on a bowl of dumplings at Vancouver’s Chinatown just nearby.
Day 2 - Vancouver
Today is free to explore Vancouver at your own pace. Perhaps check out Stanley Park, a sprawling park in the city’s north, where you can walk or cycle along the scenic seawall trail. Another great option is to visit Granville Island and its undercover Public Market, where you can gorge on a treasure trove of baked treats. The annual Dine Out Vancouver food festival usually takes place around this time too, so check out the festival guide and see what’s happening. The annual festival brings together Vancouver’s culinary talents for two weeks of foodie celebrations – think cocktail masterclasses, street food fiestas, market tours and even a dedicated beer hall to boot!
Day 3 - Whistler
Catch a bus and travel along the ‘Sea to Sky Highway’, a corridor connecting Vancouver to Whistler taking in spectacular ocean vistas and mountain peaks (approximately 2.5 hours). Arrive in Whistler during the ‘Whistler Pride and Ski Festival’. Join Whistler's GLBTIQ community, along with thousands of visitors from around the world, at some of the many parties and events held during this week-long festival. Previous years' events have included gala balls, a Cards Against Humanity night, a charity ski race, après ski evenings, wine pairing dinners, a movie night, and even a splash pool party! This Festival is a fully inclusive event, celebrating diversity as well as a shared love of all things snows-sports.
Day 4 - Whistler
Get to know Whistler a little better this morning with a guided tour. Depending on how much snow has fallen and the abilities of the group, you’ll either be trekking in snowshoes or peddling a fat-tyre bike. The rest of the afternoon is then free to explore art galleries, restaurants and boutique shops in Whistler's charming pedestrian-only village streets, or perhaps experience the record-breaking PEAK2PEAK gondola – a spectacular ride over the snow-frosted valley linking Whistler Mountain's Roundhouse Lodge with Blackcomb Mountain's Rendezvous Lodge. This evening there will be plenty more parties and events as part of the Pride Festival.
Day 5 - Edmonton/Jasper National Park
With tired legs and a head full of memories, snatch some sleep on the bus ride back to Vancouver before flying to Edmonton. This flight is not included as part of the itinerary as passengers are required to book the airfare themselves. We will provide you with the flight number and details to help you book your place. From Edmonton, transfer by private van to Jasper National Park (approximately 4 hours). Try to keep your jaw from dropping as you first encounter Jasper’s spectacular alpine lakes, forests and mountains. This is the real Canadian wilderness – and yes, it’s everything you hoped it would be.
Day 6 - Jasper National Park
Home to grizzly bears, elk and moose, Jasper National Park is one of the last preserved slices of wilderness in Canada. The park has plenty of scenic walking trails to discover too – including the Maligne Canyon Icewalk. The name refers to the canyon’s ethereal beauty in winter, when waterfalls freeze over and icicles hang like teeth in the mouths of the Park’s many caves. Meet a local guide for this essential Canadian experience and explore the park while learning about Jasper’s Karst topography, and the mystery of the disappearing Medicine Lake. After the walk, the rest of the day is free. In the evening, check out the ‘January in Jasper Festival's evening street party. Downtown Jasper comes alive with the sights and sounds of a full blown street party, with street performers, live music, food, games and an ice bar.
Day 7 - Jasper National Park
Today is free to explore Jasper National Park. Some of the walking trails in the park are pretty lengthy, but shorter trails to Lake Annette and Pyramid Overlook can be finished in around 1-2 hours. Another option is to check out the range of activities on offer at the Jasper Festival, including ski and snowboard demonstrations, winter photography walks, bannock making lessons and brewery tours. In the evening, rug up around an open fire and enjoy a hot chocolate with s’mores.
Day 8 - Lake Louise
Stretching 232kms (144 miles) through the Canadian Rockies, the Icefields Parkway is a famous road that links Jasper with Lake Louise – today’s destination. You’ll be able to soak up the spectacular scenery on the way there, with a stop off at Columbia Icefield during the day to hike to the toe of Athabasca Glacier. Arrive at Lake Louise in the evening, where you can rug up after a day in the snow with a hearty meal at one of the local pubs.
Day 9 - Lake Louise
Nestled between two blue mountains sits Lake Louise, a patch of pristine water that you can literally skate across once it freezes over in winter. Today is a free day to try some of the many activities on offer. You can hire some skates and glide across the lake, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, or snowshoe around the lake instead. Recharge with afternoon tea at Chateau Lake Louise, which delivers Insta-worthy views of the lake and mountains. In the evening, join your local leader for a walk among the illuminated ice sculptures that will be installed as part of the Lake Louise Ice Magic festival.
Day 10 - Banff National Park
It’s a short drive (approximately 1 hour) from Lake Louise to Banff National Park, where your leader will take you on a wilderness snowshoe tour from the world famous Sunshine Village Ski Resort. Catch a gondola straight above the tree line, where today’s walk will begin. There are no walking trails up here and this is as close to nature as you can get. The trekking today will be broken up with some hot cocoa and cookies to keep your energy levels up.
Day 11 - Banff National Park
After a day in the snow yesterday, today is free to see the rest of Banff. Perhaps go shopping on Banff Avenue or Bear Street, unwind in Banff Hot Springs’ steamy waters or feel the rush on a dog-sledding expedition. There’s tonnes of stuff to do so if it all feels overwhelming, just ask your local leader for some handy pointers.
Day 12 - Banff National Park
As we said, there’s a lot of stuff to do in Banff – so there’s an extra day here to make sure you pack in as much as you can. It’s a good idea to check out The Big Bear, a regular event where you can catch snowboard pros practicing their tricks. The event is a highlight of the SnowDays Festival and you can see all the action from the comfort of Banff Avenue Brew Co beer garden, which also has a fire pit to keep things nice and toasty.
Day 13 - Canmore/Banff National Park
Visit the nearby town of Canmore and take part in the 'Learn To Be A Canadian Hockey Player' program. As part of the program, professional coaches will walk you through a day in the life of a player on the Canmore Eagles Junior “A” team. Go inside the dressing rooms, learn about the superstitions shared by the elite players, and try on the full hockey gear. Then pick up a stick and do your best Mighty Ducks impersonation on the ice. The time on the ice is a great opportunity to pick up some basic skills and learn whether you’re a lefty or a righty. The whole program will last around two hours. Born with two left skating feet? There are some special zimmerframes available to help teach beginners how to skate safely. After unleashing your inner hockey beast, head to the Canmore Winter Festival and check out the festivities. One of the highlights is an ice carving competition where you can see the sculptures being made right before your eyes. Return to Banff for the night.
Day 14 - Calgary
This morning drive approximately 2 hours to Calgary, where the trip finishes on arrival. If you’d like to stay on in Calgary, we can help arrange accommodation for you. Just let us know at the time of booking.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Meals Included: Breakfast: 0 Lunches: 0 Dinners: 0
One trip, five festivals! This itinerary is jam-packed with festivities, taking in Whistler Pride & Ski, January in Jasper, Lake Louise Ice Magic, SnowDays in Banff, and the Canmore Winter Carnival.
See what it’s like to be a professional ice hockey player on a visit to the Canmore Hockey Club, then practice your skills on the ice.
Experience Canada’s incredible winter wilderness on a snowshoe hike in Banff's backcountry.
The GLBTIQ community know how to throw a great party, and you can take part in one (or several) during the Pride festival in Whistler
Get your jingle bells on and laugh all the way on an optional sleigh ride in Lake Louise
Explore frozen waterfalls and ice caves in Maligne Canyon, Jasper's deepest accessible canyon.
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money