Banff Gondola launches immersive “Nightrise” experience

Experience combines lights, music, and Stoney Nakoda storytelling to showcase Sulphur Mountain like never before

  • Dec 06, 2021
  • 321 words
  • 2 minutes
Nightrise at the Banff Gondola is a nighttime multimedia experience that unfolds on the eight-minute ride up Sulphur Mountain and throughout four levels of indoor and outdoor spaces on the summit. (Photo: Nightrise at the Banff Gondola)
Expand Image

It’s a journey inspired by the magic of the Rocky Mountains and powered by the energy of reconciliation. Kirsten Ryder, training and development director for the Stoney Nakoda Nation, calls it “reconcili-action.”

Nightrise, which launched on December 2 at the Banff Gondola in Banff, Alta., is a multimedia nighttime experience created by the Stoney Nakoda Nation in partnership with the tech-meets-art wizards at Montreal’s Moment Factory. It begins aboard the gondola on its eight-minute journey up Sulphur Mountain and centres around four levels of outdoor and indoor experiences on the observation decks and exhibition spaces at the Sulphur Mountain summit.

“The darkness lets you tune in to see beyond the familiar,” says Ryder, who describes Nightrise as a community effort to which members of the Stoney Nakoda Nation lent their prayers, expertise and guidance, allowing Moment Factory to bring together light, music and storytelling in a way that showcases both the magic of Sulphur Mountain and the Stoney Nakoda people’s connections to this land. “We are telling the world who we are as a people in our own way — our own voices,” says Ryder.

Inside, visitors are surrounded by a whirlwind of “snow” as they gaze out of floor-to-ceiling windows at the mountain outside. (Photo: Sarah Brown/Can Geo Travel)
Expand Image

As the gondola begins its ascent, the lights dim and the soundtrack begins, mainly in English but with many words and phrases in Stoney:

“There are stories in these mountains
A place of gathering, of sanctuary, for so many
And especially, we, the Îethkabi, the Stoney Nakoda
Tonight, we honor these mountains
And those who have called them home since time immemorial.”

As the gondola slows to a stop at the summit, there is a final instruction: “Up here, there is no right way to explore. Just let your senses guide you.” It’s a beautiful encapsulation of how best to savour the Nightrise experience.

Nightrise runs until March 12, 2022. Tickets can be purchased on the Banff Gondola website.


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

A crowd of tourist swarm on a lakeside beach in Banff National Park


Smother Nature: The struggle to protect Banff National Park

In Banff National Park, Alberta, as in protected areas across the country, managers find it difficult to balance the desire of people to experience wilderness with an imperative to conserve it

  • 3507 words
  • 15 minutes


9 reasons why you don’t need skis to enjoy Banff

From forest bathing to historic hotels, Canada’s iconic winter wonderland has more to offer than fresh powder

  • 817 words
  • 4 minutes
Banff wildlife overpass, anniversary, national park, bear, wolf, elk, cougar


As Banff’s famed wildlife overpasses turn 20, the world looks to Canada for conservation inspiration

The innovative structures are heralded for having opened migration corridors and saved countless animals from vehicle collisions

  • 1586 words
  • 7 minutes
A view from Flint’s Park west up the Cascade valley at sunset. Flint’s Park is one of Banff’s most remote backcountry campgrounds — a two-day hike from any direction.


Losing the crowds in Banff

If real solitude is what you seek, block off four or five days and head for the Front Ranges in one of Canada’s most popular parks

  • 1470 words
  • 6 minutes