Weather -- Never forget: This is Canada, and that means in the winter, it's going to be cold. Mountain weather can be inconsistent, but you can generally rely on sub-freezing temperatures any time between early December and mid-March, though the southern portions of the province sometimes offer the respite of a mid-winter Chinook, which can temporarily elevate the temperature to springlike warmth. Nonetheless, it would be imprudent to attempt driving in Alberta in winter without at least snow tires, and if you're going into the mountains, some recommend chains as well.
Naturally, the farther north you go, the colder it gets; excursions into the province's far north, like Wood Buffalo National Park, are only for the hardiest in the dead of winter, when temperatures can drop to -58°F (-50°C).
Still, Alberta, with its wealth of activities like downhill skiing, is a popular winter destination; the winter season peaks over Christmas/New Year's, when prices can nearly double, and spring break, usually in March. If you can plan a late January or February winter vacation in Alberta, you'll save a fair amount of money.
Summer, though, is really tourist season, when parks like Banff and Jasper are brimming with tourist buses and campers. Summers are spectacular in Alberta, typically dry, warm, and sunny; the problem is, everyone knows it, and rates for everything, from hotels to tours, rise accordingly.
As a general rule, spring runs from early April to mid-May, summer mid-May to mid-September, fall mid-September to early November, and winter early November to late March.
As most of Alberta is at high altitude, prepare for cool evenings, even in the heat of summer. And if you venture north, have plenty of insect repellent on hand: the bugs are voracious.
As a general guide: In Calgary, winter weather ranges from a low of about 9°F (-13°C) to around 30°F (-1°C); summer hovers typically around 68 to 77°F (20 to 25°C), but can get much hotter on exceptional days. In Edmonton, where it's typically colder, winter weather ranges from a low of 2°F (-17°C) up to 14 to 23°F (-10 to -5°C). In summer, temperature ranges from 50 to 77°F (10 to 25°C). In the mountains, where weather is changeable year round, Banff winter temperature ranges from about 5°F (-15°C) up to the high 20s (-2 to -4°C); and in summer, from 41 to 77°F (5 to 25°C).
Holidays -- National holidays are celebrated throughout the country; all government facilities and banks are closed, but some department stores and a scattering of smaller shops stay open. If the holiday falls on a weekend, the following Monday is observed.
Canadian national holidays include New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day (in mid- to late May, the weekend before U.S. Memorial Day), Canada Day (July 1), Labor Day (first Mon in Sept), Thanksgiving (in mid-Oct), Remembrance Day (Nov 11), Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (Dec 26). Alberta also celebrates Family Day, usually on the first Monday of August.
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.