The Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival is an annual event taking place over a ten day period in January where professional ice carving teams come from around the world to compete. Events and activities are held at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel and as well as other venues throughout the Lake Louise village.
The 2017 Ice Magic festival runs from January 19th to the 29th. This years carving theme is Canada – True North.
The Ice Magic Festival is just one event taking place during SnowDays in Banff National Park. It’s a month long celebration of winter that runs from mid January to mid-February.
The main carving event happens on the first weekend of the festival. It’s hosted on the grounds of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel that sits on the frozen shores of Lake Louise. The carvers create their masterpieces out of stacked blocks of ice that weigh over 300 pounds each. The participants brave frigid temperatures while they do their work.
Each year the festival has a different theme that the sculptures must reflect. There’s all kinds of activities happening inside the hotel such as wine tasting and musical and theatrical performances.
Even the dog mascot from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel come to check out the action at the festival. He looks quite stylish with his warm coat and booties to keep his paws from freezing on the frozen ground.
On the second weekend of the festival the Little Chippers festival takes place in the village of Lake Louise at the Samson Mall. The Little Chippers Festival has all kinds of activities for children. They can get a hands on experience in ice carving and learn about the science behind it. They recently added an ice playground full of slides and tunnels and an ice mini golf.
Tips For Attending The Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival
Over the last few years the festival has become overwhelmingly popular. Since 2015 a paid ticket system was implemented for peak viewing times for the carvings on the Chateau Lake Louise grounds.
Tickets to visit the main ice carving are required for the Fairmont Chateau lakeside Competition Carving site on Saturday and Sunday January 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th between 10am and 5:30pm, with the last viewing slot to purchase at 4pm. You can view the ice carvings free of charge before of after those times on the weekends and it is also free on weekdays. In past years guests staying at the Chateau have received complimentary tickets with their stay. Tickets can be purchased at the Lake Louise Visitor Information Centre and outside the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise on the pathway to the carving viewing site during the Ice Magic weekends.
Ticket prices are:
Adults $10 (18 – 54 years)
Children $5 (3 – 17 years)
Seniors $5 (55 + years)
Family $25 (2 adults + up to 4 children aged 3-17 years)
After the festival is over the sculptures will remain for as long as the temperatures allow. Sometimes it can be well into February and other times the temperatures get too warm and the hotel needs to take the sculptures down early for safety issues as they begin to melt and break.
During the festival there are other ice carvings that can be viewed for free Deer Lodge, Mountainner Lodge and the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
If your main goal is to just view the sculptures and enjoy some time at the lake come just after the festival is over. Compared to the crowds during the event you will practically have the lake to yourself! Optimal times to visit during the festival would be on a weekday or arriving earlier in the morning prior to 10am. The later you arrive in the day the worse the parking situation becomes.
The two weekends during the event the busiest. The upper parking lot near the lake can be full by mid-morning. It looks like this year day visitors during the peak visiting hours will be required to park in the village and take the shuttle up to the event. Tickets pre-purchased online and pre-printed will have VIP access to the shuttles running from Samson Mall to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and return.
To purchase time slot tickets, view the full schedule of events and get more information on the shuttle visit: Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival.
While attending Ice Magic it’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage to try out Ice Skating On Lake Louise. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more scenic ice rink! Or experience a traditional Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride.
The sculptures are best viewed during the first couple of weeks after their initial carving, but depending on the weather and temperature they are still worth afterwards. There’s no guarantee they will still be up, if you are driving a long way to see them you might want to contact the Chateau Hotel and ask.
Best Sculptures From Past Ice Magic Festivals
Ice Magic Festival Sculptures At Night
The sculptures take on a completely different look when they are illuminated in the evening. The Fairmont Chateau will continue to light them up as long as they are still intact enough for viewing.