Nightrise at the Banff Gondola is truly a magical experience. I’ve visited Banff National Park at different times of the year; each time has been a truly unique experience. On a clear day, I feel like I can see forever admiring the six Canadian Rockies mountain ranges, and of course, summertime is my favourite as I don’t need to bundle up before my adventure. The scene from on top of Sulphur Mountain changes during the fall season as the leaves turn, and everything is covered in a thick blanket of snow in winter. This winter, a new experience was created.
After dark, the mountaintop comes alive with four digital art installations, but the experience began as soon as the gondola began climbing up Sulphur Mountain. Relaxing music soothed us as we rose, and helped prepare us for the displays at the summit. As I walked around the summit of Sulphur Mountain, I was immersed in stunning projections of vibrant lighting and special effects which honoured the sacred mountains, a place of gathering for the Stoney Nakoda People.
What to Expect at Nightrise
Nightrise is a unique night of art, nature, and culture. The four interactive digital art installations are stunning and will amaze you. To see the show, you need to take the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. This costs $25 per person for a round trip. You can also purchase tickets at the Banff Gondola Information Centre for $27 for adults or $20 for children to see the show on your own. I recommend buying tickets in advance as they could sell out quickly. Ticket prices may change… please refer to their website for the most current prices.
Dining at Banff Gondola
During your evening enjoying Nightrise, I recommend dining at the top of Sulphur Mountain. You have two choices, and make sure to make reservations as they both book up quickly. My favourite is Sky Bistro which is a bit fancier but well worth the regionally-sourced local meats, produce and ingredients…Canadian all the way! The second option is the Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen, where I had an absolutely delicious buffet dinner. You can’t go wrong with the view from either restaurant! To finish off your evening, enjoy a Nightrise-themed drink at the Belvedere Rooftop Bar, and relax around the fire pits to stay warm.
Stoney Nakoda People History
The Stoney Nakoda People have a history of belonging to the land. Their ancestors lived in permanent villages on the mountain slopes and were hunters and gatherers. They are a fusion of more than 250 cultures, which they call their “Nakoda.” The Nakoda people have also created sacred laws which uphold balance within nature.
The Stoney Nakoda People are deeply connected to the mountains; they believe they are sacred and hold ceremonies there. Every year, in the springtime, they gather at Mount Rundle to celebrate the passing of winter and invite the sun back into their lives with a traditional ceremony called “the First Summer Dance.”
How to Get to the Banff Gondola
The Banff Gondola is conveniently located about a 10-minute drive from downtown Banff. There is a large parking lot, and I have never had a problem finding parking. There is also a convenient bus system ROAM Transit, in Banff, where you can ride to Sulphur Mountain for around $2 each way.