Special event application
Thinking about holding a special event in Banff National Park? This section of the website will give you the information you need before hosting an event in the park, and outlines the steps for applying for a Special Event Licence.
Banff National Park offers a stunning setting for events that are aligned with the national park mandate of conservation, education and enjoyment. Events held within Banff National Park promote the park as a year-round destination while highlighting the history and significance of the park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Special Event Applications are evaluated to ensure events meet all legal, regulatory and policy obligations; are safe; and facilitate opportunities for understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the park.
What is considered a special event?
A special event within the park is defined as a temporary, planned activity that is conducted for recreation, entertainment, education, commemoration or promotional purposes.
If you answer yes to one or more questions below, you may need to apply for a Special Event Licence.
- Is the event located within Banff National Park?
- Will the event require partial or exclusive use of park locations and/or amenities: roads, trails, waterways, day-use areas, etc.?
- Does the event have volunteers and/or support teams?
- Will banners and signage be used to promote the event?
- Will food be provided to participants?
- Will vendors be present at the event?
- Will media be present at the event?
- Will the event require infrastructure such as tents, speakers, generators or portable toilets?
- Are you intending to repeat the event in the future?
If you answer no to all of the questions above, your planned activity may instead be a:
- Wedding: please complete the Banff National Park Wedding Application Form
- Large Group Activity: please contact Parks Canada Events Coordinator
Events under 100 participants may not require a Special Events Licence, but are required to follow all rules and regulations within the national park. If you have any questions about your event, please reach out to the Parks Canada Events Coordinator.
Events which will take place entirely or partially within the town of Banff boundaries must follow the Town of Banff’s special event application process and obtain approval from the Town of Banff.
Events partially taking place on other private leasehold locations within the national park must obtain permission and provide to Parks Canada a written letter of consent from the leaseholder.
The following is a list of specific requirements that must be met when planning an event in Banff National Park:
Banff National Park will only consider new events that occur between October through May. The months of June through September are the busiest months of the year for national park visitation. New special events proposed between June 1 through September 30 will be not considered.
To manage the impact of events on park land, sensitive species, visitor experience and safety, events will only be considered in very specific areas of the park. Events will be considered on:
- Park roads, areas, waters and select trails in (Zones 3, 4 & 5) on a case by case basis. See the Banff National Park Land Use Zoning map.
Events will not be permitted on:
- Park trails, areas or waters in Zone I (Special Preservation) or Zone II (Wilderness). Note that most trails within the park fall within these zones.
- The Norquay Road, north of the Trans-Canada Highway, at any time of year due to the importance of this area as a wildlife corridor.
- The Bow Valley Parkway (1A) during the annual seasonal travel restriction from March 1 to June 25 between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the 17 kilometre eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway (1A) between the Trans-Canada Highway/Bow Valley Parkway interchange and the Johnston Canyon campground.
- Lake Louise Drive.
No NEW events will be permitted on:
- Trans-Canada Highway (#1), Icefields Parkway (#93N) or the Kootenay Highway (#93S) as a Plan A or Plan B route for public safety reasons due to the high volumes of traffic on these high-speed (90km/h) roadways and the possible disruption to regular traffic flow.
Impact on wildlife
Event organisers need to minimize disturbance and potential conflicts between wildlife and people. Considerations include specific wildlife species, locations, times and seasons. These details will be discussed with Parks Canada during the special event application process.
When enlisting event sponsors, the sponsoring organization must align with the priorities and mandate of Banff National Park and Parks Canada.
Depending on the size and complexity of the event, Parks Canada may administer fees associated with monitoring the event. This will be discussed and determined as part of the application process.
NOTE: At the discretion of Parks Canada, events may be postponed, detoured, or cancelled on the event day or on the days preceding event day, if and when it is determined that proceeding with the event could endanger wildlife or people. Contingency plans may need to be developed in advance of the event should the planned route/location not be possible. These plans will be developed as part of the application process.
Application process & timelines
Step 1 - Feasibility review
If you have answered yes to the above questions and your event fits within the Event Requirements, the next step is to speak with the Parks Canada Events Coordinator to determine the feasibility of your event within the park. Contact us via email to request an Event Concept Evaluation Form.
The event concept and associated activities must comply with the Canada National Parks Act, all regulations thereunder and all other applicable statutes, regulations, directives, policies, and guidelines, including but not limited to the Banff National Park Management Plan. The event will also be assessed to determine environmental and visitor impacts.
Applications should be submitted one full year before the event date and will be accepted up to two years in advance. In some cases, smaller events may require less than two years for planning.
Event concept evaluation form
In the form, you will be required to provide details for the following information:
- Number of participants, staff and volunteers.
- Date(s), season.
- Location and park amenities requested: e.g. roadways, paved trails, waterways, day use areas, etc.
- Length of event: number of days, including set up, event days and dismantle.
- Timing: number of hours and time of day.
- Type of activity.
- Exclusive access or use requests of park locations and/or amenities required: e.g. road or lane closures, installation of temporary structures or signs.
- Event organiser status: for profit, non-profit, charity.
- Expected number of spectators and where they will convene.
- Number of vehicles: staff/volunteer, participant and event support.
The completed form will be used to assess the feasibility of the event within Banff National Park. If the event is deemed feasible, you will be asked to submit a full application.
Step 2 - Application
The application form includes a series of YES/NO questions, some of which will require further detail in your event plan, considerations to guide your event planning, mandatory requirements that must be addressed in your event plan and additional ideas to enhance your event. The information contained in the application form should demonstrate a high level of commitment to these five guiding principles:
- Foster understanding of, and connection to, the park’s natural and cultural heritage.
- Respect the experience of non-participants by minimizing impacts on other park visitors.
- Ensure safety for people associated with the event and other park users.
- Involve and respect the local community.
- Demonstrate a commitment to the protection and sustainability of this special place.
A review of your application will identify any missing information and required support documents to complete your application for full multi-departmental review. After the first review of your application, the following will be required:
- Wildlife Response Plan.
- Medical and Emergency Response Plan.
- Traffic Management Plan.
- Communication Plan.
- Proof of Insurance.
- Environmental Impact Assessment (not required in all cases).
Application does not guarantee approval. Final approval of your event is subject to Parks Canada completing a full review of the event application.
Step 3 - Licences required and associated fees
Licences will only be issued when the national park superintendent has granted final approval. Business licence, documentation and licence fees are non-refundable. Exchange of signed licences are to be completed no later than four weeks prior to the event date(s). The application category that the event falls into, large or small-scale, dictates the type of permit required and any associated fees:
- Business Licence.
- Restricted Activity Order (if required).
- Special Event Licence.
- Development and building permit (if required).
- Cost recovery for Parks Canada staff time.