Banff's magnetic draw for young people from all over the world, most of them working in the resorts, gives Banff nightlife an overwhelming college-town feel. Almost all the hotels have bars or lounges, but they are more sedate; all along Banff Avenue in-season, you'll find something going on in the many, many pubs.
One of the old standbys is the Rose & Crown (202 Banff Ave.; tel. 403/762-2121). It's been around long enough to establish its reputation as a rowdy, fun beer-swilling joint. On a summer night, the rooftop patio is hard to beat -- all big sky and stars above, and the hustle and bustle of Banff Avenue right below. Inspired by the birthplace of Guinness, selecting a draught at the St. James's Gate (205 Wolf St.; tel. 403/762-9355) is just about the toughest challenge in Banff -- there are 33 beers on tap, as well as 50 single-malt scotches and 10 Irish whiskeys. Live music is almost always Celtic, and a blast. Oenophiles will do best at The Bison Lounge (213 Bear St.; tel. 403/762-5550), which has a great list of wines by the glass and snacks from the outstanding bistro upstairs. It's the most cosmopolitan hangout in town. Grab a spot at the communal table to make new friends. At Wild Bill's Saloon (201 Banff Ave.; tel. 403/762-0333), you can embrace Alberta's western heritage whole-heartedly. Wild Bill's lets the rock bands play on its least-important nights, Monday and Tuesday, but starting Wednesday and all through the weekend, the hootin' hollerin' Western pride comes to the fore. It's non-stop line dancing and hurtin' tunes, mostly by Albertan country bands passing through.
Banff also has its own urbane cocktail lounge called Aurora (110 Banff Ave., downstairs; tel. 403/760-5300), complete with an array of DJs and martinis. Its sister club, the Hoodoo Lounge (137 Banff Ave.; tel. 403/760-8636), offers nightly events ("Throw Your Panties" being one of them) and dancing to DJs, as well.
But that's nothing compared to Outabounds (137 Banff Ave.; tel. 403/762-8434), Banff's most popular dance bar. Located in a dingy basement, the four bars serve up beers and sloppily made cocktails to young patrons -- most of them resort employees -- while the packed dance floor is obscured in a shroud of dry-ice fog.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.