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Pre-Arrival and Packing

Recommended Items to Bring

Banff has a cool, dry climate. The townsite is at an altitude of 1,383 m (4,537 ft) and has “mountain weather,” meaning it is subject to daily changes in temperatures and conditions that can be dramatic at times.

Summer (June to August):

  • Average High: 19°C to 22°C (66°F to 72°F)
  • Average Low: 5°C to 7°C (41°F to 45°F)
  • June is typically the month with the highest rainfall.
  • Please be aware that occasional smoke advisories can take effect due to regional wildfires.

Fall (September to November):

  • Average High: 1°C to 16°C (34°F to 61°F)
  • Average Low: -8°C to 3°C (18°F to 37°F)
  • Late October is typically the first snowfall.

Winter (December to February):

  • Average High: -5°C to 0°C (23°F to 32°F)
  • Average Low: -15°C to -11°C (5°F to 12°F)
  • While these are the coldest months, winter often has clear blue skies and the mountains are spectacular covered in snow.

Spring (March to May):

  • Average High: 4°C to 14°C (39°F to 57°F)
  • Average Low: -8°C to 2°C (18°F to 36°F)
  • March is typically the month with the highest snowfall and the snow may not be completely melted until mid-April.

Banff is also subject to Chinook winds and conditions. Warm, humid air flowing over the mountains from the west can raise winter temperatures substantially in a short time and reduce snow accumulations dramatically in a few days. For more detailed information, please visit the Parks Canada website.

People unaccustomed to living at our altitude may require a couple of days to acclimatize. Layering your clothing is the best way to help adjust to the changing temperatures throughout the day.


  • Comfortable/casual clothing
  • Rain/wind jacket
  • Warm sweater
  • Gloves, toque (warm hat), and scarf
  • Comfortable walking shoes with good grips on the soles
  • Winter coat and long underwear for sub-zero temperatures (October-May)
  • Winter boots and warm socks (October-May)

Active/Outdoor Gear:

  • Swimsuit and workout clothes (on-campus fitness centre, climbing wall, 25m pool, hot tub, and steam room)
  • Backpack for day trips
  • Reusable water bottle (Banff has some of the best tap water for drinking in the world!)
  • To-go mug for coffee/hot beverages
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen (snow reflects sunlight, and the UV rating at this altitude is high)
  • Crampons/micro spikes for icy conditions (October-May)

Personal Items:

  • Toiletries and personal hygiene items
  • Hand lotion and lip balm (Banff has an extremely dry climate)
  • Prescription medications for the duration of your program (out-of-country prescriptions cannot be filled in Canada)
  • Prescription glasses/contact lenses
  • Basic first aid kit (e.g. Band-Aids, ibuprofen, heat pack, KT Tape, etc.)
  • KN95 mask (recommended if you become ill to protect others)
  • Travel humidifier


  • North American plug adapters and converters
  • USB drive
  • Laptop & charger
  • Headphones

Pre-Program Self-Reflection

Banff Centre programs are immersive and intense and require individuals to be in a state of physical and emotional wellness to ensure you have a rewarding and impactful experience. We encourage you to reflect on your current state (i.e. physical, emotional, social, occupational and environmental) and consider your level of wellness and readiness to travel to Banff prior to enrolling, so that you are prepared and able to fully engage in your program.

Before your program begins, we encourage you to consider completing our Pre-Program Self-Reflection Worksheet to help you make the most out of your residency.

Travel Arrangements

Airport and Shuttle Service

A two-hour drive away, the Calgary International Airport is the closest airport to Banff. The Calgary International Airport maintains a website with up-to-date information on transportation and accommodation information. Visit:

The Banff Airporter is the official airport shuttle provider of Banff Centre, and it runs to and from Calgary International Airport approximately 10 times a day. You will be dropped off at the Professional Development Centre (PDC), where the Front Desk is located. The Banff Airporter proudly supports our visiting participants with a generous 50% discount on bookings. A discount code will be provided to you by the Admissions Office at the time of confirmation of acceptance.

For up-to-date schedules, pricing, and booking, please visit

Tip: Check the Airporter schedule before booking your flights as they DO NOT RUN 24/7 and a taxi can cost more than $200 each way.

Brewster Travel Canada also offers daily motor coach shuttles between Banff and Calgary International Airport. Reservations are required.

By Car

Non-Canadians bringing their car into Canada for more than 90 days must register the vehicle with Canada Customs. You will need your vehicle registration, certificate of ownership, and your letter of acceptance from the Admissions Office.

International participants do not need to apply for an international driving permit if you already have a valid driver's license from your home country. Contact your insurance provider for more information.

Banff National Park Pass

All vehicles within Banff National Park are required to display a valid Park Pass. Participants driving their own vehicles to Banff Centre are eligible for a complimentary Banff National Park Pass for the duration of their program. For this reason, DO NOT STOP AT THE PARK GATES. Drive through the far right-hand lane and proceed to Banff Centre. If you stop at the gates, a non-refundable entry and service fee will be charged and a Park Pass issued.

To obtain your Park Pass, please present your Banff Centre ID card to Participant Resources after arrival. We require your license plate number for the non-transferable Park Pass.

If you are staying in Banff for 29 days or less, you will be issued a Work Purposes Only pass (access limited to the Banff town-site). If you are staying in Banff for 30 days or longer, you will be issued a Resident Pass (full Banff National Park access).

Please note: If you are driving a rental car, you are required to visit the Banff Visitor Centre in town to obtain a Park Pass.

Indigenous Participants

A Short-Term Access Pass for Banff National Park is available to self-identified Indigenous and Metis people. It is available upon request at the Banff National Park East, Niblock, and David Thompson gates, visitor centres, mobile gates, campgrounds, and the national historic sites located within Banff. This pass is also valid for entry to the Banff Park Museum, the Cave and Basin, and the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Sites. Service fees for campgrounds and the hot springs continue to apply.

Cultural use permits are available for members of Indigenous groups with long standing connection to the Banff area. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Banff National Park Indigenous Relations Advisor, at 1.403.431.2318.

Reference and more info: Indigenous connections - Banff National Park

Bringing/Shipping Goods and Equipment to Canada

Travelling with Musical Instruments

Most small musical instruments may be carried on-board an aircraft in addition to one carry-on. Remember that all items must conform to existing carry-on size requirements and will only be allowed if they can be safely stowed in an overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. Following this guideline will aid you at the passenger security screening area.

If an instrument is too large to fit in the carry-on baggage space and you wish to have it on board with you, most airlines will allow you to purchase an additional seat for the instrument.

If you are required to check your instrument as cargo, ask the airline about liability. Musical instruments are considered a fragile item. Fragile items will be accepted as checked baggage if they are appropriately packaged in a container/case designed for shipping.

Before making arrangements to travel with an instrument, make sure you are aware of any customs regulations that may affect transportation of any country you are travelling to, from, or transiting through.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has ordered strict enforcement procedures related to the Endangered Species Act and the African Elephant Conservation Act. According to the order, many instruments containing African elephant ivory will not be allowed into the U.S., even if a musician is simply returning to the U.S. with instruments from their personal possession or collection, not intended for sale.

Most of these musical instruments, while legally manufactured and acquired, would have been purchased after 1976, and will now be prohibited from entering into the U.S.

Other instruments that have not been sold since 1976 may be missing key documentation.

Enforcement of this policy at U.S. borders is uncertain, it could occur at any time. Do email questions to the Division of Management Authority at U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ( US residents may apply for a permit to travel with their instrument here.

Banff Centre is not responsible for, nor is able to, provide specific customs information.

It is strongly recommended that you insure your instrument.

Canada Border Services Agency

You can find customs information online at: You may telephone CBSA from outside Canada at 1.204.983.3500 or 1.800.461.9999 (toll-free within Canada). Submit your questions directly to It may take up to 30 days for a reply. You may also contact the Canadian Embassy or the consulate in your country.

What documentation do I need when bringing/shipping goods into Canada?

You should have an itemized list (in duplicate) of what you are bringing, showing the value of each item and a serial/catalogue number if it has one. Bring a copy of your Banff Centre acceptance letter to show the customs agent. If you are shipping goods, your courier or customs broker will assist you with the required paperwork.

Are there goods that I cannot bring/ship into Canada?

Yes. Check with your courier or customs broker before shipping personal effects, alcoholic beverages, textiles, tobacco, certain health products, cultural property, furs, perishables, jewellery, precious metals and stones, or ivory.

Do not ship prescription drugs; bring these with you. Prescription drugs should be in the original packaging that identifies what they are. If this is not possible, carry a copy of the prescription or a personalized letter from your doctor.

Hazardous materials such as paints and solvents may be prohibited or restricted. Please contact your program delivery specialist for information on obtaining art supplies in Canada.

Is it better to bring supplies with me than buy them in Canada?

Not necessarily. The duty and tax payable at the border could significantly increase the cost of these supplies. Be prepared to pay tax and duty on consumables like ink, paper, and paints. If you are not sure whether the supplies you need are available in Canada, contact your program delivery specialist for assistance.

Is it better to hand carry my personal goods rather than ship them?

Yes, it is much easier (and less costly) to clear your personal goods through customs if you bring them with you. If you are arriving by plane, check with your airline about charges for excess luggage. If you are shipping additional items, list these separately on your Customs Declaration as "Goods to Follow". State clearly that the goods are for your own use while in Canada and they will leave Canada on a specific date. Before departure to Canada, register your goods with customs in your home country so you are not charged duty and tax when bringing or shipping them back.

How do I arrange for my shipped goods to clear Canada customs?

Most major couriers (i.e. Federal Express, UPS, and DHL) are able to act as your customs broker, preparing the tax and duty for the shipment on your behalf. Tell the courier your shipment must be marked "Free Domicile" or "DDP" (delivered duty paid), which means you have paid for all the customs and transportation charges. Unless shipping charges and customs charges are prepaid, the Banff Centre will not accept delivery of the shipment. 

Will I have to pay Canadian taxes and duty?

Normally, yes. If your shipment has a value of $20 CAD or more, it is subject to Canada's 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) plus any applicable duty. You will also have to pay a customs broker to clear your shipment into Canada. By declaring your goods as "personal goods for my own use while in Canada - to be exported when I leave Canada" you can avoid paying Canadian tax and duty. However, in most cases, you will have to appear in person at Canada Customs to sign a customs release form to get this personal exemption. 

How should I address my shipment?

Due do Customs legislation and liability concerns, Banff Centre will only accept personal shipments that are addressed as follows:

Your Name
c/o Banff Centre
Facilitator Name, Department
Box 1020, 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff, Alberta T1L 1H5

Practicum participants living at the Rocky Mountain Housing Co-op (RMHC) should always ship to Banff Centre directly, not to the RMHC.

Pre-Travel Check List

  • Read, complete, and return all forms to the Admissions Office
  • Settle any outstanding fees with the Admissions Office
  • Arrange medical insurance, including travel days
  • Confirm all travel arrangements 
  • Non-Canadians: complete all required paperwork for entry into Canada
  • Bring all documentation and prescription medication with you
  • Purchase insurance for instruments or equipment
  • Communicate any special needs (dietary or well-being) with Participant Resources
  • Communicate required resources (i.e. computers, library resources, technical requirements) with your program delivery specialist
  • Pack appropriate clothing for the time of year

Additional questions or need assistance? Please contact Participant Resources

Day One: Check-in

Arrival: Professional Development Centre, Front Desk

Participants should plan to arrive on the date indicated on their statement of account, acceptance letter, or learning agreement. Generally, arrivals are the day before the program starts. Everyone must check in at the Front Desk, located in the Professional Development Centre (PDC), which is open 24 hours a day. If you are to receive a welcome package, it will be delivered to your guest room.

Check-in time is anytime after 4 p.m. You may try to check-in earlier but we cannot guarantee that your room will be ready. Early arrivals may make arrangements with the bell desk to have their luggage stored until their room becomes available. Check-out time is 11 a.m., and late check-outs may be charged a late check-out fee. 

Front Desk personnel will issue room keys and a Banff Centre map along with information on how to access your Banff Centre ID card. Luggage service is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Call the Front Desk in advance if you require luggage service outside of these times.

Practicum program participants living at the Rocky Mountain Housing Co-op are required to pick up their ID cards at the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre desk (lower level). 

Deposit at Check-In

The Front Desk will require a credit card imprint or a $50 deposit. Without a deposit, you will not have charging privileges for incidentals such as room service, dry cleaning charges, etc.


If you drive to Banff Centre please register your vehicle with the Front Desk. You will be asked for your license plate number and directed to a parking lot. Parking is complimentary on Banff Centre property.


On-Site Accommodation

Participants in residency programs stay at Banff Centre for the duration of their program. The residential aspect of our programs means you can take part in the Centre's larger artistic community while we take care of day-to-day concerns like cooking and cleaning.

Your on-site accommodation includes a private guest room with private bathroom, furnishings, work desk and chair, towels, bedding, TV, phone, radio/alarm clock, and housekeeping services. There are public lounges/common areas.

Over 150 rooms are available in two hotels. For pictures and more information, please visit Banff Centre Hotel.

No adjustments are made for late arrival, early departure, or absences. Anyone planning to arrive earlier or stay longer than their program dates should inquire in advance about room availability. Contact the Admissions Office with questions regarding accommodation prior to your arrival.

Residence Guidelines

Absences: If you are planning to be absent overnight, please inform your program delivery specialist as to when you will return and where you can be reached in case of emergency. Anyone planning overnight trips into the backcountry should register with Parks Canada Warden Service.

Alcohol and Drugs: Banff Centre complies with municipal, provincial, and federal laws governing the use and abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs. The legal age for consumption of alcoholic beverages in Alberta is 18.

Fire Regulations: Cooking on hotplates, the burning of candles, incense, barbecues, or open-flame equipment is prohibited in rooms, studios, and public spaces.

Noise: Outside sound travels easily to the rooms, so noise should be kept to a minimum when approaching or leaving buildings, in hallways, and while in your room. Please be considerate when using audio/visual media. If loud is your preference, please use headphones. Quiet time is enforced after 11 p.m. Practicing of musical instruments is prohibited in residences at all times. There are plenty of practice spaces available on-site; contact your program delivery specialist for details.

Fragrance: In consideration of the health needs and concerns of all, please restrict your use of scented products throughout the campus.

Smoking: Banff Centre is a smoke-free environment, which includes all indoor spaces and balconies. Please note that provincial legislation prohibits smoking within 5 metres (16 feet) of any building. Any type of vaporizer or e-cigarette fall under this ban. A $250 fine will be issued if you are caught smoking in your bedroom. We appreciate your cooperation as we strive to create the best possible environment for participants and staff. Banff Centre has designated outdoor smoking areas. Please ask reception, call the switchboard, or see our campus map for approved locations. 

Pets: Pets are prohibited in residence or studios at all times. Exceptions: certified service animals. See accessibility tab for more information. 

Sports Equipment: Bikes, skis, and snowboards are not permitted in guest rooms. Please contact the Front Desk regarding the safe-keeping of sporting equipment.

Damage: Participants will be held responsible for the cost of repair or replacement of Banff Centre equipment or property that is lost of willfully damaged.

Valuables: Guests may secure small items in an individual safety deposit box (subject to availability) at the Front Desk. Banff Centre and its agents are not liable for any or all property lost or left on the premises. To protect your valuables, please keep your door locked and windows closed when you are not in your room.

Cancellation of Accommodation

Any cancellations or adjustments for late arrival are made at the discretion of the programming area. Anyone planning to arrive earlier or stay longer than their program dates should inquire in advance about availability.

Room Changes After Arrival

On-site accommodation room changes are subject to a waiting period. At the discretion of Banff Centre, reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate the request. To discuss accommodation or make a room change, visit Front Desk for an Accommodation Change Request Form.

Off-Site Accommodation for Practicum Program Participants

Off-site accommodation is scarce and generally expensive. Anyone planning to rent in Banff or Canmore should look well in advance. No financial aid is awarded for off-site accommodation.

Guest Accommodation

On-site accommodation may be available for guests of participants on a short-term, space-available basis. Non-participant rates apply. Contact the Guest Services team prior to arrival. 

Participants are responsible for the actions and behaviours of their guests while on-site. Guests are not allowed in the residence buildings after 11 p.m. unless they are registered with the Front Desk and assigned overnight accommodation. There is a charge for overnight guest accommodation.


There is no childcare facility at Banff Centre. It is your responsibility to make arrangements for the care of your children prior to your arrival. Please discuss with your program delivery specialist the demands of your program and whether bringing your child is feasible. 


For your convenience, there are coin-operated washers and dryers located in the lower level of Lloyd Hall. Dry-cleaning may be dropped off at the Front Desk. You are responsible for all dry-cleaning charges.

Artists' Lounges and Kitchen Facilities

Lounge spaces on campus are shared spaces equipped with kitchen facilities, where participants/faculty with dietary limitations, or those wishing to supplement their meal plan, can self-cater or where any participant can host a gathering during their program.

Tunnel Mountain Lounge: full kitchen, large table; visit Participant Resources for a key. Open 24/7 but all users must respect quiet time as there are guest rooms above the space.

Professional Development Centre Room 301: has comfortable seating, a TV, and a kitchenette with fridge, toaster, and microwave; no key needed. Open for use between the hours of 7 am and 11 pm.

Lounge Guidelines:

  • If you are having an event or gathering, please use the sign-up sheet provided outside the lounge.
  • It is your responsibility to tidy up; please clean all dishes and label food items with your name and expiration date.
  • Please inform staff if cleaning items require restocking.
  • There is no alcohol consumption permitted in any open lounge or kitchen.
  • Quiet time begins at 11pm.
  • Always close the door behind you when you leave.
  • If applicable, please return the key to our after-hours key box, which is outside the front Participant Resources office. If for some reason you can’t deposit it here, please leave it at the front desk where we can pick it up.

Alcohol and Drug Policy

The entire Banff Centre campus is deemed to be public space under the Banff Centre’s liquor license including studios, common spaces, and participant lounges. The only exception that is deemed to be a private space where privately purchased alcohol may be consumed is your guest room. In adherence with this regulation, we encourage you to enjoy the special event bars at openings and performances, drinks at MacLab or Vistas, or that you head downtown if you wish to have a change of scenery.


Cannabis is not permitted on campus or in the Town of Banff, however can be consumed on Parks Canada trails and land.

Flex Meal Plan

For more information, please visit Flex Meal Plan and Dietary Concerns.


For more information, please visit Medical Information and Accessibility

Wildlife Awareness

It is common to see wildlife across campus at Banff Centre, within the Town of Banff and Banff National Park. An animal sighting can be one of the most thrilling experiences during your visit, but always keep in mind that these are wild animals in wild spaces. For your safety and theirs, please treat them with respect and keep your distance. Please do not feed any of the animals, including the squirrels, as they are protected by law.

Elk can be fast and dangerous, especially during spring calving (May 15-July 1) and the fall rut (Sept. 1 - Oct. 15). If you encounter any elk, keep your distance. You must stay at least three bus lengths away from elk at all times. Do not use headphones on trails. It is always best to travel in groups and to be aware of your surroundings at all time. If you see wildlife on campus, please contact Security Services via the main switchboard by dialling '0' or calling 1.403.760.0098.

It is your responsibility to educate yourself on the topic of wildlife and how to prepare for wildlife encounters.

Mountain Environment: A Word of Caution

Mountains can be dangerous. If you are planning an excursion, contact the Parks Canada Information Centre at 1.403.762.1550 for up-to-date weather and avalanche information, reports on trail conditions, and wildlife activity. Visit for more information.

Minimizing Environmental Impact

The grounds of Banff Centre include natural areas with alpine and sub-alpine flora. Please help us protect this fragile environment by keeping to pathways and sidewalks. Please do not litter!

Help conserve energy by switching off lights and equipment when leaving studios or guestrooms. There are conveniently placed containers for recycling in most buildings. Paper recycling is also available. The Centre's recycling depot in the Physical Facilities compound offers metal, glass, plastic, cardboard, wood waste, paper, and milk jug recycling.

Before You Go Home

  • Return all library loans.
  • Return your studio keys to your program delivery specialist.
  • Return borrowed keys and other items to Participant Resources.
  • Ensure your account has no outstanding balances. Contact the Admissions Office to confirm.
  • Make arrangements with the shipping department to send your work and supplies home.
  • Complete your program evaluations and the donor thank-you form (if applicable).
  • Confirm your flight(s) and other travel arrangements.
  • Be 10 minutes early for all shuttles out of Banff from the PDC; they will not wait or return if you are late.
  • Inform the Front Desk a day before departure if you require luggage assistance in the morning.
  • Please note: check-out time is 11 a.m.


Internet and Computer Access

Banff Centre provides public wireless internet access in every building. No password is required. Access is open and unsecured, so it is each person's responsibility to ensure they have all operating system patches applied and adequate virus protection installed. The only limitation that Banff Centre has placed on the network is a bandwidth restriction to preclude the access being used as an illegal streaming service. However, the wireless network can reach maximum capacity if each guest brings multiple wireless devices.

For current public wireless connection information please consult the guest directory in your bedroom, under the "Computer Services" heading.

There are a number of public access computers for Internet browsing and emailing in the Paul D. Fleck Library.

Banff Centre's IT/S department cannot repair or install software on your computer. To discuss specialized computer support needs, please contact your program delivery specialist prior to arrival.


Banff Centre's on-site Ricoh Services provides printing and copying services. The state-of-the-art reprographic centre allows for high-end colour reproductions. Staff can also assist with cerlox binding, plastic coil binding, sure binding, ASF binding, stapling, padding, NCR padding, collating, trimming, drilling, folding, scoring, and laminating. Speak to your facilitator/program delivery specialist for details and access.

Your program department and the Paul D. Fleck Library offer access to printing for smaller projects. The library has both black & white and colour printers with 11x17 and 8.5x11 paper sizes. We ask that you please limit print jobs to 20 pages in order to keep this resource free for all participants. For more information on printing access in your program department, please contact your program delivery specialist.

Postal and Courier Mail

Banff Centre's on-site mailroom is located in the Services Building and provides post office services, including courier access and assistance with Canada Customs for shipping out of Canada.

Participants may pick up their mail directly from the mailroom. You will not be contacted when mail arrives; you must check back regularly especially when you are expecting a delivery. To receive mail, you will be required to show your ID card.

You can use the following address to receive mail at Banff Centre:

Your name c/o Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Box 1020, Bag 6000
Banff, Alberta T1L 1H5

The mailroom is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and closed on holidays.

You may prefer to set up a post office box or have general delivery at the Banff Canada Post Office, located at 204 Buffalo Street. Services include:

  • Stamps and shipping services
  • Postal boxes
  • Money orders
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) forms
  • Passport application forms
  • Accepts debit and credit card payment

Bilingual (English/French) services are available. To contact, phone 403.762.2586.