Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Night Rise, a Celebration of Winter at the Banff Gondola

Night rise is a beautiful celebration of winter, magic, wonder, and our beautiful Rocky Mountains. Created in partnership with the Stoney Nakoda Nation, their spoken word and authentic music bring life and a feeling of connection to this new event at the Banff Gondola.

Words to live by at Night Rise, Banff Gondola

A Whole New Way to Experience the Summit of Sulphur Mountain after Sunset 

I've visited the Banff Gondola many times, and have both hiked up Sulphur Mountain and ridden the gondola to the summit in every season of the year. Always on the search for something "new" though, I jumped when I found out that there was a new nighttime event happening at the gondola, one that would be unlike anything I'd ever experienced.

Night Rise gave me the opportunity to stand on top of a mountain, at night, in winter!! (Something I never thought I'd get the chance to do without a lot of discomfort, cold, and just a touch of suffering.)

Night Rise is a magical event in Banff this winter

I then received a second opportunity to return with my family so that my son got to stand on top of a mountain, again at night, and in winter! (On a very cold night I must admit.)

Standing on top of Sulphur Mountain, we were able to look down on the glowing lights of Banff below us, we danced and twirled through swirling magical lights on the outdoor observation deck, and we watched the trees light up with pulsing light and music along the boardwalk.

Even the gondola ride was a new experience with traditional spoken word and story telling from the Stoney Nakoda Nation, soothing, calming, and welcoming. The gondola ride provided a transition where we got to greet the night, welcome the darkness, and prepare for the wonder waiting for us on the mountain.

Winter on top of a mountain is pretty cool in Banff!

Looking down on the Town of Banff from the top of Sulphur Mountain

And watch the fun little video below for a glimpse of what to expect at Night Rise!

What to Expect from the Night Rise Experience 

First of all, this is a ticketed event and you can't just hike up Sulphur Mountain at night to experience Night Rise. The observation decks and upper terminal building are only open to those who have purchased tickets for Night Rise.

Second, this is a family event and would appeal to children of all ages. It's also a great event for people of all mobility and fitness levels because the gondola removes all effort involved in reaching the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Then when you reach the summit, there are elevators inside the building, benches everywhere for resting on, and windows on every level in case it's cold outside and you want to watch the light displays from the warmth of the building.

One of the viewing platforms lit up with interactive lights for Night Rise 

Night Rise at the Banff Gondola

The exhibit is spread out over four stations inside and outside the gondola building. "At these stations, visitors lounge among twinkling snowflake lights, walk atop interactive projections and explore like never before." - Banff Gondola

The event begins the second you step inside the gondola and ends when you reach the ground again, with spoken word, lights, and an interactive experience providing entertainment on the ride up and down.

Winter on top of a mountain in Banff

Diamond Dust, one of the magical indoor stations at Night Rise

Magical Diamond Dust at Night Rise

And watch the fun little video below for a glimpse of what to expect at Night Rise!

Everything you need to know about attending the event 

Tickets can be purchased online through the Banff Gondola website and the event runs through March 12th, 2022. 

Dinner packages can also be added on when you buy your tickets. Night Rise does not include food unless you add on a reservation for one of the two restaurants at the top of the mountain. The Sky Bistro would be my recommendation for a romantic meal with your partner and if you choose this addition, you'll enjoy both an appetizer and entrĂ©e at the beautiful Sky Bistro Restaurant on top of Sulphur Mountain. 

The Northern Lights Alpine Kitchen is a great family-friendly option where you'll be treated to a full buffet meal on top of Sulphur Mountain.

If you choose to purchase a dinner option, you can either eat first and then tour the Night Rise stations, or you can do your tour first and eat after. Everything is self directed and there is no "one way" to experience Night Rise. 

Come play outside in Banff on top of Sulphur Mountain

Other tips for visiting Night Rise 

  • The gondola cabins are not heated so make sure you dress warmly with a winter coat, perhaps ski pants for the children, along with mittens and toques. You'll also be outside for at least half an hour if you want to fully experience the interactive lights from the two viewing decks.

  • You won't need winter boots, but you'll still need shoes that are suitable for walking around outside and that have a bit of traction in case it's slippery outside. Don't wear high heel dress shoes is what I'm saying in a nut shell!

  • This is not a "fancy" event. Warmth is more of a priority so leave the dress and heels at home. Even if you're going to be dining at the Sky Bistro you do not need dress pants, a suit, or a dress. This is mountain chic fashion so wear your nicest down coat.

  • A relaxed tour of the Night Rise stations including the ride up and down will take 90 minutes to two hours. If you want to extend your time on top of Sulphur Mountain I recommend purchasing a dinner package. 

  • Masks are required inside the gondola building at all times and recommended outside on the viewing platforms if you are in close proximity to other guests.

  • Night Rise includes moving and colored lights in case that should be a concern for you or a family member.

  • By order of the Government of Alberta, proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid test result within 72 hours of your visit is required to visit the Banff Gondola.

Twirling around in the interactive lights at Night Rise

Dancing on top of a mountain at night in Banff

Background and more Information on Night Rise 

Night Rise was created by the Montreal-based multimedia studio Moment Factory, and I especially appreciated their collaboration with the Stoney Nakoda Nations who contributed authentic spoken word and an original soundscape.

Key messages I took away from the experience were that the sky is not the limit, that we can listen with all of our senses, and that there is a deep feeling of peacefulness that comes from being connected to the land and to our history. 

For more information, photos, and videos, explore Night Rise on the Banff Gondola website for more information.

Celebrate Winter at the Banff Gondola

Disclaimer: Our visits to Night Rise were hosted but as always, all opinions and words here are my own. 


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