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Arts & Entertainment in Banff

by K Gordon Schultz

Banff, Alberta Arts & Entertainment Quick Tips

Although Banff has the justified reputation as an outdoor enthuasiasts haven, it is by no means lacking in the culture department. Banff’s arts and entertainment scene has something for everyone from a play at The Banff Centre to a night of live music and a few beers at a favorite pub.

Some people are surprised at the quantity and diversity of cultural events on offer in Banff considering the small size of the town. However, 4 million people come to Banff every year and the shows must go on!


So many energetic and young people visit Banff that it is no surprise that the nightlife scene is pumping. There are all sorts of options to choose from depending on your mood.

“It’s one of those Catch 22 situations! You want to ski all day in Banff and stay out all night. Why do humans have to sleep!” – Taylor Sergeant, Banff regular.


Name a genre and its likely that you will find some live music here in Banff. Banff’s night spots feature everything from live country/rock to Celtic and Maritime to the classic piano bar. For live acts, Wild Bill’s Saloon, the Rose & Crown, St James’s Gate Olde Irish Pub are just a few possibilities.

Traditional Pubs

Relax, play some pool, darts, billiards, drink at the bar. Enjoy the atmosphere in one of Banff´s many traditional pubs such as the Rose & Crown, Melissa’s, Bumper’s, the King Eddie, and Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub.

Dance Clubs

Inevitably after a few drinks and the right crowd, the night must continue! If you are looking to do the robot on a dance floor and listen to a good DJ, then head towards The Aurora and Hoodoos Lounge – Banffs premier nightclubs.


Pubs that feature extensive menus include St James’s Gate Olde Irish Pub, the Elk & Oarsman Pub & Grill, the Magpie & Stump, the Rose & Crown, the Keg, Tommy’s Neighbourhood Pub, and the Wauldhaus Pub.

“I reckon the shepherds pie I had in St. Jame’s Gate might well be the best I have ever had.” John Weir – food lover.

Film Screenings

The Elk & Oarsman screens some great premieres of adrenalin-pumping films from the latest outdoor filmmakers, the likes of Teton Gravity Works and others.

Music Concerts

The Banff Centre is the fulcrum for all musical magic that happens in the Canadian Rockies. Performances go on all through the year with occasional performances at other venues around Banff as well.

  • Playbill Series (year-round): A stellar line-up of artists and performances from Canada and abroad are featured throughout the year. The Playbill Series offers a chance to see the new, the exciting, the familiar, the entertaining, the unusual, and the provocative. A great option for culture vultures.
  • Music & Sound Concert Series (throughout fall and winter): Talented international music residents collaborate with renowned visiting artists of world-class calibre to present weekly concerts. Concerts include the weekly Friday Concert Night Out in Rolston Recital Hall at The Banff Centre, and Music at Noon on selected Wednesdays, Canmore Sunday concerts on selected Sundays, as well as Casual Afternoon Recitals throughout the week.
  • Jazz Concerts (May – June): A fantastic tradition spanning over 30 years – the Banff jazz program brings leading performers and composers together with emerging artists in an exhilarating four-week frenzy of jazz.


There is a constant flow of excellent plays and operas that come through Banff..


The Banff Players, a community-based theatre group, present major dramatic works on the stages of The Banff Centre.


Each summer, a major opera is staged as part of the Banff Summer Arts Festival. The operas are always different and range between old favourites and contemporary feasts for the eyes and ears.


Banff is the proud home of one of Canada’s original eco-theatre troupes, Precipice Theatre. These colorful productions are often aimed at children so it can be a good option for families.


If watching graceful dancing is your cup of tea rather than hitting the nightclubs, there are plenty of opportunities to get a show in during your stay in Banff.

  • Ballet: The Banff Summer Arts Festival presents Festival Dance each summer, creating a professional ballet company from talented dancers from across Canada. Also, throughout the year, touring Canadian ballet companies will often include a stop in Banff.
  • Jazz: Each year, Calgary’s renowned Decidedly Jazz Danceworks brings their tour to the stages of The Banff Centre. Visit the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Web Site to find out the next Banff tour date.

For more information, go to Canadian Rockies.

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