Are you suffering from the listless limbo that comes at this time of year, when your summer vacation is a fading memory and your winter getaway a distant dream? Then I have just the cure for you. It’s time to become an extreme armchair traveller at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.
Now in its 35th year, the Banff Centre hosts an annual nine-day-long celebration of the world’s best films and books on mountain culture, adventure, exploration, environment, climbing and other sports. This huge array of topics ensures there will be something to suit everyone’s tastes.
Films range from five minute shorts to feature length epics. Some showcase the most extreme examples of skiing, boarding, climbing, biking and kayaking you will ever see, while others focus more closely on the passionate characters who pursue these adventures. There are films that document scientific research, environmental issues, and disappearing cultures in remote corners of the world, films on plants and animals in wild places, and films about the survivors and victims of mountain calamities. You’ll be amazed by the jaw-dropping scenery, cinematography, and creativity as you are whisked around the world.
If the vicarious adrenaline rush hasn’t left you lying exhausted in your armchair, you can stagger through the mountain photography exhibits and the art and craft sale, or try out the climbing wall. You could take in a Parks Canada presentation about the reintroduction of caribou and bison in Banff National Park, or listen to a panel discussion about travellers who return to help reform the places they’ve visited. If you have aspirations to be featured yourself someday at the Banff Mountain Festival, you could attend a workshop on how to become a star in the extreme sport film industry, or how to use social media or satellite dispatches to tell your own adventure story to the world.
You also have the opportunity to schmooze and sip wine with the writers while you get your books signed, and to hear award-winning authors from around the world speak at the festival. One of the highlights this year is former climber and humanitarian Greg Mortenson of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones into Schools” fame. Good luck getting tickets for that event!
If you feel like splurging while you’re there, I recommend dinner or drinks at the Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar. Perched atop the Sally Borden Building on the Banff Centre campus, the floor to ceiling windows offer almost 360 degree panoramic views of the mountains. A great place to dream about your next trip!
Hopefully, all these extreme armchair travel adventures will inspire you to choose new destinations or activities for your next vacation, embolden you to take your adventures up a notch, or at least encourage you to get off the couch and go for walk!
This years’ festival runs until Sunday November 7.
Visit www.banffcentre.ca/mountainfestival/ for more information.
Check out these library DVDs of previous Banff Mountain Film Festival entries:
Touching the Void
The Sharp End
Some of the 2010 Banff Mountain Book Festival finalists:
Previous Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize winners: