Recap: 2015 FEASTival of Fine Chefs (and tips on how to do it best!)

September 29, 2015

What to do for Halloween 2015: Edmonton (and area) Event Listing

September 29, 2015

Preview: Haunted Halloween Gala at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

September 29, 2015
FEASTival of Fine Chefs - Edmonton - Shaw Conference Centre
Edmonton Halloween Events
Banff - Dead Man's Flats - Explore Alberta

Over the weekend I went on a whirlwind trip to Banff with my friend Brittney to get a preview of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Halloween Gala! The Fairmont Banff Springs is arguably the very best hotel/resort in picturesque Banff, Alberta. It has a long and rich history as Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies” for more than 125 years.

It’s utterly gorgeous and also boasts some of the best views in the area. Service (as you’d come to expect at most Fairmonts) is unbelievable. It’s massive – and as I walked through it, I got the feeling of being on a very large cruise ship. With it’s multiple restaurants, lounges, and free activities and events planned for guests, it really does feel like a giant, royal cruise ship docked in the middle of the mountains.

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

The gorgeous view from our room at the Castle in the Rockies!

It’s wonderful and you could literally spend your whole vacation on hotel property – there’s so much to see and do. But there’s also a side to the Fairmont Banff Springs you might not expect – this hotel is rumoured to be haunted.

Over the years, guests have reported a variety of unusual, supernatural occurrences including seeing the ghost of a young bride walking up and down stairs, having a bellman helping them get in and out of an elevator, and hearing a crying baby in a bathtub to name – really just a few of the many reported ghost stories associated with the Fairmont Banff Springs.

The whole reason we were there over the weekend was to learn more about the ghost stories surrounding the Banff Springs as part of their upcoming Halloween event offerings. I go into more detail about the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Halloween Gala (and ghost tour) packages below, but first:

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Directions to the creepy floors at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The lovely lady Nadia who checked us in, was even so kind as to highlight what area of the hotel is rumoured to be especially haunted, so we could go on a little ghost tour of our own (before taking part in the official one as part of the Halloween Gala preview). I think it says something when you can talk about ghosts and hauntings at the place as you check in, and the staff is completely unphased, as if it’s something guests will regularly bring up. Nadia told us she basically grew up at the hotel, and has had a lot of creepy experiences herself. That’s something we found to be quite common among almost all Fairmont Banff Springs staff!

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Stairs where a young bride fell to her death back in the 1920s at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

The Fairmont Banff Springs embraces the haunted stories. There’s even a plaque at the base of the stairs outside the Cascade Ballroom highlighting the story of one of the most popular hauntings – of the young bride who fell down the stairs on her wedding day.

Here’s the full story as told on their plaque:

The story of the ghost bride dates back to the late 1920’s on the wedding day of a young couple. The groom stood in the very room which was once the library, waiting for his bride to arrive. They were to make their way together to the glamorous Cascade Ballroom for the evening’s celebrations. As the bride stepped onto the staircase before you, the numerous lit candles that lined the steps cast a soft amber glow on the bride, who was resplendent in her white lace gown and veil.

Perhaps the bride caught her heel in the hem of her dress, or some movement caused her dress to brush up against a candle’s flame. Whatever the cause, the young bride was startled, and suddenly slipped and stumbled down the stairs ultimately meeting her demise. It was a truly tragic end to a love story, and a life that was cut too short.

But the bride’s story doesn’t end with her death. For years, guests and hotel staff have claimed to see an apparition in a white wedding dress moving quietly up and down the stairs. Some have even claimed to have heard soft music playing while the otherworldly bride dances alone in the ballroom above. It is believed that she still seeks to relive that fateful day, when death denied her and her husband their first dance as husband and wife.

Prettttty creepy (and sad). Brittney and I checked out this area first on our own before participating in the formal Fairmont Banff Springs Halloween Ghost Tour where during this part of the tour, we were greeted by this:

After the initial shock, the ‘bride’ isn’t too scary but we were actually told later that a Banff Springs staff had been in the bathroom nearby and saw a bride all dressed up and ready to go. There was apparently a photoshoot that was going to take place with the bride actress all dressed up, so the staff member asked one of our hosts about the photoshoot and how it went and how the bride looked really good but our host said the photoshoot hadn’t happened yet and the bride actress wasn’t even in her get-up at the time the staff saw the ‘bride’ in the bathroom. UMMMMM!!!

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

An actress playing the Fairmont Banff Springs ghost bride.

There were little stories like that peppered throughout the night which I think are even creepier than the ones acted out in the tour. Our tour guide Pat was great – taking us to some of the more ‘haunted’ spots at the Fairmont (the sixth and eighth floors are apparently the most haunted floors, so if you don’t want anything to do with that stuff, please avoid the floors completely lol).

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Some of the hallways give off a creepier vibe than others, lol.

Not all the ghost stories are bad/tragic though – there’s one popular legend of a friendly former bellman. Sam the Bellman worked at the hotel for years and years before retiring in the 1970s.

Pat our tour guide says that a lot of the haunted stories around the Banff Springs are just around staff members who have basically lived a the hotel their whole lives and then love it so much they want to stick around after they die. Sam is dressed in old fashioned uniform and is apparently very sweet, polite, and helpful – helping guests with luggage or helping them if they’re locked out of their room.

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

This way to more guest rooms… or should I say – GHOST ROOMS?!

We were told that many guests who are assigned Room 666 often try to switch rooms right away. There’s also Room 692 which staff say is hard to book and also hard to keep guests there. Usually after the first night, guests are calling (or heading right down to the lobby) asking to switch rooms. Apparently guests have been shaken off of the bed before :|

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Apparently people have been pushed off this bed before by – nothing. Ghosts :|

And there’s another room on the eight floor where guests and cleaning staff have heard a baby crying in the bathroom – but there was no one in there. UGH! I am getting goosebumps just writing this out. There’s also a story about Room 873 – which was so haunted that they boarded the room up. A quick search of Room 873 Banff Springs Hotel on Google bring up a lot of tales and stories from people who have tried to find the room.

The ghost tour is actually meant to be family friendly and shouldn’t creep you out too much (the creep factor is lessened when that scary kid in the photo above later joined us for in the lounge to say hello lol).

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Lots of these really cool areas in this hotel (cool but creepy if you’re in the mood for creepy lol)

But I think for a long time the Fairmont Banff Springs didn’t necessarily own the ghostly tales around their hotel and now I think it’s super cool that they’re injecting it into their Halloween event offerings.

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Tried to see if I could capture a ghost in this mirror picture at the Fairmont Banff Springs, lol.

After the ghost tour, we took part in a seance with Calgary-based medium Donna Kiss. Initially we thought the seance would be themed around the Fairmont Banff Spring’s ghostly inhabitants, but it was actually a personal seance. We sat in a circle and Donna went one by one, communicating with people who had passed for each person there. I had never been to a seance before and I’ve never gone to a psychic before either but I totally believe in that kind of stuff so I was pretty excited/nervous to participate. It was really interesting to see Donna in action. For some of the participants, she seemed to be right on it. There were a lot of tears from a few people (mostly me, lol) but a lot of looks of realization or surprise, that she was describing or saying things that that person’s loved one would look like or say too.

For me, she was describing someone who could’ve been my grandpa on my dad’s side, but he had died long before I met him so I didn’t really know what his traits would truly be. She asked who I did want to speak to and I said my grandma. I felt there were some things she described that I wasn’t 100% sure if it fit my grandma or not, but it could’ve – I only really knew her when she was much older and tried to remember stories here and there to see if what she was saying was true was kind of hard in the moment. The later part of what she said about my grandma made more sense to me, but then I wondered if some of what she said could’ve worked with a lot of the people in the room? I also think near the end, time started working against her. We were already over the scheduled time, so near the end it felt rushed and she was really trying to move through people quickly. I also did not envy that she was dealing with a group of about 15 people. Normally she doesn’t do group work over 10 people.

For the Fairmont Banff Springs Halloween Gala on Oct. 31, Donna won’t be doing an intimate group seance, she’ll be doing more of a platform / stage – selecting audience members kind of set-up, which I think would also be hard, but I guess it’s more in line with church seances, which she has a lot of experience doing. I was totally interested in everything that happened in the seance and would be really interested in doing a one-on-one with a medium or psychic (whether that’s Donna or someone else closer to me in Edmonton!) some other time for sure.

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Pat our Heritage Ghost Tour guide at Fairmont Banff Springs!

It was so interesting and I think to get a taste of what something like that is like at the Halloween Gala would be really unique. How many people say they talked to dead people and/or participated in a group seance for Halloween? The whole ghost tour and seance package together was all great. If you don’t do the Halloween Gala package I’d still recommend going on the Fairmont Banff Springs Heritage Ghost Tour – part of a special package those last two weekends of October (more information at the end of the post).

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Smoked salmon and trout during our Halloween Gala preview dinner feast.

For our Halloween Gala preview, we were treated to a medieval themed dinner. For the actual Halloween Gala, it will be more stand-up cocktail/reception style bites of food.

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Lamb and pork at our Halloween Gala preview dinner!

Our servers were zombies/ghouls and they really committed to the role – grunting, moaning, kind of moving in more slow, jerky motions. It was really a lot of fun! There were also some scary surprises – like this giant, mutated bat creature thing that popped out at us halfway through the dinner when we thought the whole time that it was just a decoration!

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

This terrifying thing jumped out at us at the Halloween Gala preview!

After the dinner, we went back to our rooms to go to sleep – it would be an early morning as we left at 5 a.m. to head back to Edmonton as I had a whole string of other things to do the next day. Appropriately, I didn’t have the best sleep. I kept jolting awake, looking around, wondering if the creak I heard was just a creak, or something more. At one point (around 3:30 a.m.) I had to turn on one of the lights and leave it on for the rest of the night because I was just getting a bit too paranoid after our ghost tour and seance!

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Spooky decorations at the Fairmont Banff Springs for Halloween!

If you’re a fan of Halloween, you’ll be a fan of the Fairmont Banff Springs Halloween Gala and ghost tour. If you’re a fan of luxurious hotel resorts, you’ll be a fan of the Fairmont Banff Springs – and if you happen to stay there at the end of October, it’s just an excellent bonus then that you can experience some of its haunted history and Halloween party.

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Some cute Halloween-themed treats.

Below is a breakdown/information for this year’s 2015 Fairmont Banff Springs Haunted Heritage Ghost Tours as well as their Halloween Gala. Unfortunately neither the tour or tickets to the Gala are available to book outside of the accommodation packages – but really, staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs should be something you do at some point in your life anyway, so if you’re a Halloween buff, timing it around these packages would be pretty cool!

Halloween Heritage Ghost Tour Package

Starting at $399 (Based on double occupancy in a Fairmont Room)
Dates Available: October 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 2015

Join us for an exclusive heritage ghost tour of our historic castle! Learn the truth behind the rumours before spending the night within the walls of this historic hotel. This family-friendly tour will cover some of our most famous long-term residents including the Ghost Bride who has been seen mourning her ill-fated wedding day in the Cascade Ballroom and Sam the Bellman who, to this day, is rumoured to help lost guests find their way through the hotel corridors late at night.

Package includes:

  • Luxury accommodation in a Fairmont room
  • Admission to the Heritage Ghost Tour of the Castle
  • Complimentary Self Parking

Haunted Halloween Gala Package

Starting at $598 (Based on double occupancy in a Fairmont Room)
Date Available: October 31, 2015

This Halloween, spend the night in one of Alberta’s most historic hotels and see for yourself if the rumours of its haunting are true. Join us for an amazing multi-room Halloween Gala to include a live DJ, circus performers, food & drink, fortune tellers and many more surprises throughout the night! With luck, there may even be an appearance from one of our very long term, otherworldly residents.

Package includes:

  • Accommodation in a Fairmont room
  • Admission to the Halloween Heritage Ghost Tour
  • Admission to a live séance at the Fairmont Banff Springs
  • Complimentary make-up stations
  • Two tickets to the Haunted Halloween Gala including:
  • Hors D’oeuvres & Drink Specials
  • Live Entertainment & Performers
  • DJ Sets by The Angry Kids
  • Many more surprises…
  • Complimentary Self Parking

Brittney and I had a really great time at the Fairmont Banff Springs and I absolutely cannot wait to come back – and to come back with Mike! So often we’ll think of going back to Banff for an Alberta vacation or a weekend getaway (and I think we’re not alone in this – it’s close, and beautiful) that it’s a natural progression to stay at the iconic ‘Castle in the Rockies’ during our trips down.

Banff - Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Explore Alberta

Our Halloween Gala preview group! Thanks for the great night Fairmont staff!

Bonus: To add to the scary theme of the day, Brittney and I stopped at Dead Man’s Flats on our way to Banff. It’s a tiny hamlet just outside Canmore and as you can imagine, has it’s own creepy story.

Banff - Dead Man's Flats - Explore Alberta

Stop at Dead Man’s Flats to add to the scary factor.

The story goes that in 1904, a Canmore man went crazy – hearing voices of his long-dead parents and a constant buzzing in his head. He was convinced his parents were telling him that his brother was trying to kill him. The man killed his brother with an axe as he slept, then threw the lifeless body in the Bow River.

Banff - Dead Man's Flats - Explore Alberta

Story goes that a man went crazy, killed his brother and dumped him into the Bow River seen here.

Creepy….!

Thank you to Tara, Angela, and the whole Fairmont Banff Springs hotel for a wonderful Halloween Gala preview!

I can’t wait to come back.

So have you been to the Fairmont Banff Springs? Do you have any creepy stories to share about your experience? Leave them in the comments below! (or feel free to share regular, non-creepy stories in the comments too, haha).

Linda

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Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. I was invited to the Fairmont Banff Springs Halloween Gala media preview as a media guest. This has no impact on opinions stated in this post.