Discover Banff's culture with springstART

Toast Banff in the spring time

Banff has always had jaw-dropping landscapes—snow-kissed peaks, high alpine lakes, meadows galore and a ski season that’s been the best in decades. But locals know it’s much more than a ski town or the name of Canada’s first national park.

This charmer-of-an-alpine town is also a cultural treasure loaded with historical gems that have, until now, been spotlighted all too infrequently, and often only during Banff Culture Weekend, in early August. If you missed that weekend you often lost out on certain art gallery tours, historical home visits, backstage peeks at the Banff Centre, painting workshops and so on.

“That was certainly one of the reasons behind springstART,” says John Bowden, program director of Banff Heritage Tourism, referring to the three-week-long arts festival that kicks off on Friday. “We couldn’t cram all the events into one weekend, or even a week, so we decided to stretch things out and run 60 events over three weeks (April 6-29, 2012).”

225 Photo courtesy Banfflakelouise/Paul Zizka Photography

One of the cornerstones of Banff’s art scene is Canada House Gallery, having operated here for 38 years. Featuring strictly Canadian artists, they show 12 exhibits a year and represent about 60 artists, 25 sculptors and numerous jewelry makers. For springstART, they’ve coupled the black and white photo work of Dieter Schlatter with Jennifer Annesley’s watercolours. As well, they’ve organized one-on-one workshops with jewelry designer Susan Kun who will help you create your ultimate piece of bling (April 14 and 15). Other festival highlights will be the launch of a “mountaineering camp” on Banff Avenue—the perfect photo op for those keen to build a cairn, learn about gear and meet some real guides who’ve scaled umpteen peaks across our planet. Packing the roster with lots of freebies, there will also be screenings of mountain films at Wild Bill’s on Mondays, First Nations’ storytelling and a Q&A with film director Tom Shadyac. The Whyte Museum (the bedrock of Banff’s history and art) is hosting a Rocky Mountain photography show and bumping up the number of heritage home tours they feature. Poetry readings in the Club at the Banff Centre as well as art and wine pairings at the Rimrock are also on the jammed roster. Whether you’re in this mountain burg to spring ski or you’re poking into art galleries, you’re bound to work up an appetite. For tasty spots steeped in art, history or that come with a side of jaw-dropping views try the Bison or Wild Flour Bakery (downtown) or the market-style Vistas at the Banff Centre.

226 Photo courtesy Banfflakelouise/Paul Zizka Photography

For a complete listing of springstART events, visit