LAKE LOUISE – Higher than normal temperatures have melted stunning ice sculptures in Banff and Lake Louise as part of the SnowDays Festival.
Tourism officials say the snow sculptures and PlayZone in Banff and the ice sculptures in Lake Louise have “sadly melted beyond repair.”
“Due to unseasonably warm weather, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism have come to the difficult decision to remove the ice sculptures in Lake Louise,” the tourism organization posted on its website and social media.
“All have melted beyond repair. Ticket-holders impacted by this have been contacted by email.”
The Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival is part of Banff’s SnowDays celebration and is always a big draw for visitors to Lake Louise in winter.
However, coming out of the deep freeze in mid-January when overnight lows hovered around the -40s and -50s Celsius with the wind chill, the Bow Valley this week broke two temperature records in what is typically one of the coldest months of the year.
On Monday (Jan. 29), Banff hit 10.7 C, breaking the old record of 10.6 C set in 1931. Records for this area have been kept since 1887.
Banff also broke the temperature record the next day, reaching double digits again at 10.4 C on Tuesday (Jan. 30). The record was 10 C from 1962.
Bow Valley Provincial Park also set a new record Monday, reaching 13.5 C. The old record was 12.8 set in 1931. Records for the area date back to 1928.
According to Environment Canada, the mean temperature for January was -10.7 C., but that was impacted by the five-day stretch of extremely cold temperatures.
December 2023 marked the sixth warmest December on record for Banff out of 135 years of data.
Temperatures were 5.2 C degrees warmer than normal on average. The mean monthly temperature for December is typically -9.2 C, whereas December 2023 was -4 C.
This year was the first time since 2020 that world-class ice carvers had been invited back to compete on the shores of Lake Louise for a reimagined International Ice Carving Competition.
Ice Magic 2024 was a ticketed event, with public viewing ticket slots available from 6-9 p.m. each weekend.
“For those visiting this week, there will still be live entertainment on Bear Street from Thursday to Sunday as part of the SnowDays Festival,” states Banff & Lake Louise Tourism.
“There's also plenty of winter experiences happening as all three ski resorts have snow, and cooler weather this weekend means outdoor winter activities continue."