Guide to the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival

What began in 1976 as a single day festival showcasing some of the most amazing climbers in the world, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival has now evolved into an annual 9-day event geared toward adventure seekers and spectators alike!

What began in 1976 as a single day festival showcasing some of the most amazing climbers in the world, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival has now evolved into an annual 9-day event geared toward adventure seekers and spectators alike. The festival was the first mountain event of its kind, and continues to engage and honour an international community of photographers, athletes, filmmakers and authors.
Located in the iconic Canadian Rockies at The Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, this fall, visitors to the mountain can be treated to an array of full-length and short adventure films, guest speakers, author signings, photography displays, gear merchants and craft booths. What is truly a celebration for wilderness sports and mountain exploration, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival now reaches across the world with its international film tours.
The following is your guide to discovering all the events the festival has to offer this year.
October 28th – November 5th, 2017



Film Competition

The film competition is a festival highlight for many, and is definitely not to be missed. Filmmakers collaborate with world class climbers and athletes to produce unbelievable footage featuring international mountain scenery and capturing athletic feats that will make you hold your breath. Any fan of the outdoors can appreciate the spellbinding cinematography and inspiring stories that translate to the big screen.
Perhaps the best thing about the film competition is the opportunity for aspiring adventure filmmakers to really make their mark among prestigious peers, and to premiere their work to a worldwide audience.

Book Competition


Jeremy Collins 2015 winning book Drawn: The Art of Ascent

© Jeremy Collins 2015


Seminars, book signings, a book fair and the opportunity to network and meet with amazing writers, editors and publishers, is what makes the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival truly a unique event. With over $1600 awarded to competition entrants, mountain literature is given a platform that is often underrated in the publishing world. The list of categories includes: adventure travel, mountain fiction poetry, mountain wilderness literature, guidebooks and more.

Photo Essay Competition


2015 Photo Essay Competition winner, Prasenjeet Yadav

Prasenjeet Yadav 2016 Photo


Sometimes storytelling can be done entirely without words. Photographers and audience members are treated to an exciting photo essay display from some of the best mountain and wildlife photographers in the world. In only 3 – 5 standalone photographs, each artist carefully shoots, edits, and assembles their pictures to tell a complete story. The Grand Prize winner, chosen by a panel of international judges, takes home a cash prize in addition to a Banff vacation.

Signature Image Competition


Larry Shiu on Cascade Mountain, Banff National Park

© John Price 2017


Behind the lens, we may forget that mountain photographers not only have to be skilled at their craft, but also have to exhibit impressive – and often dangerous – athletic feats to keep up with their subjects. In the Signature Image Competition, a winner is chosen annually for the most stunning mountain adventure photograph to use in the festival’s marketing campaigns. Not only does the winning photographer earn worldwide acclaim, but they also go home with a nice honorarium for their work.

Summit of Excellence


2016 Summit of Excellence Winner

© G. Bose 2016


Since 1987, the Summit of Excellence award has celebrated individuals who have made impressive contributions to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies. Although now the award has been open to international mountaineers, it continues to be presented in memory of Bill March, who led Canada’s first successful ascent in Mount Everest. Every adventurer has a story, and the individual honoured with this award is met with the respect and awe from a community of explorers from across the world.

Mountain Idol


2015 Mountain Idol Winner Kelsey Slemko

Kelsey Slemko 2015 Photo


Athletes excel at all ages, and the festival’s annual Mountain Idol initiative proves just how valuable our youngest mountain competitors are to their sport and the mountain community. The amazing athleticism and determination shown by the nominees span a variety of mountain sports, including Nordic skiing, climbing, trail running, paragliding and much more. As a way to motivate aspiring athletes and encourage current ones, the award is open to candidates under the age of 23 who reside between nearby Lake Louise and Exshaw.

World Tour

Films on Tour

For anyone who may not be able to make it out to Banff this October, there’s no need to worry! The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour takes place throughout the year after the festival wraps up. That means that for anyone who missed out on last year’s films still has a chance to catch them in theatres. Films on Tour 2016/2017 have already been scheduled in Canada and internationally, and will be screening until the end of the year.


Check out current screenings here. Tour locations include Canada, the US and 42 countries worldwide.

Radical Reels

Radial Reels Films

For thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies, the festival’s Radical Reels series is bound to grab your attention. Focusing exclusively on high-intensity films featuring extreme sports such as snow-kiting, speed-riding and BASE jumping, the Radical Reels tour is separate from the World Tour, but with the same world class filmmakers and athletes.


Although a significantly smaller tour, Radical Reels is still screened internationally in Australia, Germany and Mexico, as well as in popular mountain states and provinces within Canada and the US. You can find the closest screening locations here.

Planning to Attend Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival?

If you’re interested in attending the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival this year, we can help you with all your accommodation needs. Call our Destination Experts at 1.877.902.1616, or browse our selection of Banff vacation rentals for more information. Feel inspired to have a mountain adventure of your own? We’ve got plenty of Banff activities to offer during your stay.