Star Struck in Banff: 45 Celebrities in the Canadian Rockies


Marilyn Monroe in 1957

Banff National Park appeals to many people, and celebrities are no exception. For well over a century, dozens of famous peeps visited the Canadian Rockies. In this post, I listed 45 of the most prominent.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that most celebrities who visited Banff stayed at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. 

In addition, many Hollywood celebrities on the following list visited the Bow Valley for the annual Fairmont Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational. This environmental protection fundraiser invites celebrities to come ski at Sunshine Village. 

Hollywood celebrities also travel to Banff to shoot movies in the Bow Valley.

The list below includes politicians, athletes, movie stars, directors and musicians. Check whether your favorite celebrity is on the list below. I listed them in alphabetical order. 

Please be aware that this is not a comprehensive list. 

Table of Contents

Celebrities in Banff – the List

I tried to provide as much information as possible, focusing on the year of the visit and the reason for the visit.

ACTORS

Dan Aykroyd
Year of visit: around 1987 and in 2002
Reason for visit: Aykroyd, arguably best known for playing Wayne Stanz in the smash comedy Ghost Busters, recorded a greeting for the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games. In January 2002, he visited Banff once more for the Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational.  

Alec Baldwin

Years of visits: 1996, 2005, 2007, 2013
Reason for visits: In 1996, while he and co-star Anthony Hopkins were filming The Edge, he made his first trip to Banff. He returned to the Bow Valley in 2005 for the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational – in support of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance to protect North American Waterways. Sunshine Village witnessed Baldwin taking to the slopes. He attended the same invitational in 2007 and 2013. 

Pierce Brosnan
Year of visit: 2013
Reason for visit: The former James Bond visited Banff in 2013 for the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational in support of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance to save North American Waterways and several other celebrities. Like his peers, Brosnan practiced skiing on Sunshine Village’s slopes. 

Leonardo Dicaprio
Years of visits: November 2009/2015
Reason for visits: Dicaprio visited Banff while filming two of his movies. The first time was in 2009 while filming Inception, partially shot in Fortress Mountain in Kananaskis Country. The second time was six years later when he was shooting The Revenant, also filmed in Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley.  

Michael Douglas
Year of visit: 2011
Reason for visit: Douglas traveled to Banff to participate in the 2011 Fairmont Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational, which entailed skiing down Sunshine Village’s slopes to raise money for environmental conservation. He took part with his wife, Catherina Zeta-Jones, and other celebs. 

Fran Drescher
Year of visit: January 2013
Reason for visit: Fran Drescher is one of several famous people who participated in the Fairmont Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational, a charity event that raises money for environmental preservation. Along with many of her famous colleagues, the former star of The Nanny with the sandpaper voice was spotted skiing on the slopes of Sunshine Village. 

Clint Eastwood
Year of visit: 1991
Reason for visit: Yup, good ol’ Dirty Harry was once seen in Banff as well. He is one of many Hollywood A-listers who traveled to the Bow Valley for the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational to ski down Sunshine Village’s slopes. 

Farrah Fawcett
Year of visit: 2002
Reason for visit: Fawcett visited Banff to visit – you guessed it – the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational. I get it; it’s becoming a bit tedious by now. She also got a call from the charity run by Robert F. Kenny, Jr. She then arrived at Sunshine Village to go skiing for charity. Those sweet stars… Ain’t they got a big heart?  

Marcia Gay Harden

Portrait image of Marcia Gay Harden

Year of visit: September 2012
Reason for visit: Gay Harden is yet another member of the long string of celebrities who participated in the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational. The actress in movies like The River Wild and Into the Wild was part of the 2012 edition of the in-the-wild fundraiser event. 

Benny Goodman
Year of visit: late 1930s, exact year unknown
Reason for visit: Goodman performed at the Banff Springs Hotel in the late 1930s. The King of Swing’s desire to perform in Banff was the sole reason for developing the Banff airstrip. Goodman thought flying to Calgary was a no-go as it was too far from Banff. He only wanted to come if he could land his plane close to town. Most of Banff turned out to see the first plane landing near town.

Jake Gyllenhaal
Year of visit: 2004
Reason for visit: Gyllenhaal spent some time in Alberta while filming the controversial blockbuster Brokeback Mountain. Places the movie was shot included Fort McLeod, Calgary and Kananaskis Country. He was seen in Banff on a day off. 

Woody Harrelson
Year of visit: 2002
Reason for visit: Like many of his contemporaries, Harrelson traveled to Banff for the Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational. The well-known Hollywood actor went skiing at Sunshine Village in the class of 2002. 

Anthony Hopkins
Year of visit: autumn 1996
Reason for visit: Hopkins starred in the 1997 movie The Edge alongside Alec Baldwin. Several scenes were shot in Banff National Park and Canmore.

Cheryl Hines
Year of visit: 2013
Reason for visit: Hines was one of the many celebrities who visited the park for the Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational. The actress known for her role as Larry David’s wife, Cheryl, on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm was seen skiing the slopes of Sunshine Village. 

Michael Keaton
Year of visit: 2013
Reason for visit: Michael Keaton is one of the big stars on a long list of celebrities skiing at Sunshine Village. He attended the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational, an environmental protection fundraiser, along with many other celebs.

Heath Ledger 

Portrait image of the late Heath Ledger

Year of visit: 2004 
Reason for visit: Ledger visited Banff in 2004 along with his acting buddy Jake Gyllenhaal with whom he was filming the Academy Award-winning movie Brokeback Mountain. It was filmed in Alberta for the most part.  

Lee Marvin
Year of visit: May 1980
Reason for visit: Marvin visited Banff for his role in Death Hunt with Charles Bronson and Angie Dickinson. He was seen practicing with snow shoes in preparation for his role as a ROMP officer who has to track down an elusive trapper.

Matthew McConaughey
Year of visit: 2013
Reason for visit: While filming Interstellar in southern Alberta, McConaughey was spotted in Banff, only to return after he had shot a Lincoln commercial in Upper Kananaskis Lake.  

Marilyn Monroe
Year of visit: June/July 1953
Reason for visit: Monroe came to Banff to film the western River of no Return (1954). She stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel and visited several places in town. The superstar was pictured at the Bow River near the town, playing golf at the Banff Springs golf course, and famously sprained her leg during her days in Banff.

Brad Pitt
Year of visit: 2007
Reason for visit: Pitt filmed the 2007 movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in the Bow Valley. While shooting one of the movie’s scenes, he was spotted along the Bow River. 

Jason Priestley
Year of visit: January 20, 2007
Reason for Visit: Priestley traveled to Banff to support the environmental fundraising event for the Fairmont Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational. He hit Sunshine Village’s ski slopes along many other famous people. 

Catherine Reitman
Year of visit: June 2017
Reason for visit: the star of the CBC series Workin’ Moms attended the Banff World Media Festival with her husband.

Ginger Rogers
Year of visit: August 1937 
Reason for visit: Rogers, an Academy Award-winning actress, spent a weekend at the Banff Springs Hotel, and the Calgary Herald reported that “her first weekend at the hotel consisted of doing everything that the normal visitor does in a week”. It included “a brisk walk up the banks of the Spray River”, playing 18 holes of golf at the Banff Springs golf course, a fishing trip on Lake Minnewanka, and horse riding.

Mimi Rogers

Portrait image of Mimi Rogers

Year of visit: January 5, 2002
Reason for visit: Rogers came to Banff in early 2002 to participate in the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational, an environmental protection fundraiser event. As always, the celebrities skied at Sunshine Village, and so did Mimi.

Mickey Rooney
Year of visit: June/July 1953
Reason for visit: Rooney visited Banff for the production of the 1954 movie River of No Return. He starred alongside Marilyn Monroe. 

Meg Ryan
Year of visit: January 2005 
Reason for visit: Ryan was one of the co-hosts of the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational, an environmental protection fundraiser. Together with Alec Baldwin and Robert Kennedy Jr, she made sure all celebs – like Nicollette Sheridan, Jason Priestley and William Fonda – had a wonderful time at Sunshine Village During the 3-day event. 

Susan Sarandon
Year of visit: 2021
Reason for visit: Sarandon teamed up with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts for the Experience The Grandest of Feelings campaign, which pays tribute to the luxury brand’s historical origins. In an interview with Forbes, Sarandon said that the Banff Springs “just takes your breath away because you can sense the history there”.

Martin Sheen
Year of visit: January 20, 2007
Reason for visit: Sheen, famous actor and father of actors Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, was part of the line-up of celebrities participating in the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational, an environmental protection fundraiser. He skied the Slopes of Sunshine Village alongside fellow-celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Jason Priestley.

Alicia Silverstone
Year of visit: September 2012
Reason for visit: Silverstone is just another celeb to participate in the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational. Along with stars Alec Baldwin and Marcia Gay Harden, the Clueless actress attended the charity event in the wild in 2012. 

Maisie Williams
Year of visit: 2019
Reason for visit: The Game of Thrones actress visited Banff to shoot scenes for her role as Arya Stark in the series. She shot the scenes in Banff for season 8 of the series.

Robin Williams

Portrait image of Robin Williams

Year of visit: 2005
Reason for visit: The late Robin Williams had a strong affinity with Canada because he frequently filmed there. In the winter of 2005, he came to Banff to ski at Sunshine Village as an invitee to the Fairmont Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational, an environmental protection fundraiser.

Catherine Zeta-Jones
Year of visit: 2013
Reason for visit: Zeta-Jones visited the Bow Valley for the 2013 Fairmont Banff Springs Celebrity Sports Invitational, a fundraiser for environmental protection. She was spotted skiing down the slopes of Sunshine Village with her husband and Hollywood star Michael Douglas. 

ATHLETES

Leryn Franco
Javelin thrower
Year of visit: July 30, 2011
Reason for visit: Franco is a famous javelin thrower from Paraguay who came to Banff for a photo shoot for the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. She can be seen in seductive photos, such as relaxing at a jetty in Lake Louise.  

John Daley
Golf
Year of visit: 2006
Reason for visit: Golf’s enfant terrible John Daley visited Banff for the 2006 Telus Skins Game. That year, this former Canadian annual summer golf event also did the Banff Springs Golf Course. Daley won the event before runner-up Stephen Ames and Sergio García, who became third.

Wayne Gretzky
Hockey
Year of visit: 1984
Reason for visit: Gretzky visited the Rockies during a Team Canada training camp in Banff. It’s safe to assume that Gretzky – labeled the best hockey player who ever lived – visited Banff many more times during his long tenure with his team Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton, which is relatively close to the Canadian Rockies.

Jack Niklaus

Portrait image of Jack Nicklaus

Golf
Year of visit: 2006
Reason for visit: This golf legend, who won 18 majors, participated in the 2006 Telus Skins Game. That year, this former Canadian annual summer golf event also did the Banff Springs Golf Course, and Nicklaus was invited to participate. Interesting fact: Nicklaus was a co-designer of the course.

DIRECTORS

Norman Jewison 
Year of visit:
1950s
Reason for visit: In the 1950s, Jewison worked as a waiter at the Banff Springs Hotel before rising to fame as a film and television director. He also produced the Banff Revue. Later in life, he created, directed, and had some of Canada’s most well-known and lucrative musicals. 

MUSICIANS

Jim Cuddy 
Years of visits: 1974/1974/2022
Reason for visit: Before becoming famous as a Canadian band Blue Rodeo member, Jim Cuddy worked as a doorman and ski room attendant at the Banff Springs Hotel in 1974 and 1975. He later made several trips back to the Bow Valley to perform in Banff. In November 2022, he paid the Banff Centre a visit as part of Blue Rodeo’s Many A Mile Tour. 

Lyle Lovett
Year of visit: February 2, 2013
Reason for visit: Lovett and his Large Band traveled to Banff in February 2013 to provide a concert at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. A few days later, he was one of the famous people competing in the Fairmont Banff Springs Sports Invitational, a charity event for environmental protection. 

POLITICIANS

Winston Churchill
Year of visit:
September 5, 1929
Reason for visit: Churchill visited Banff during his tour of Canada as a Member of Parliament in the UK and former chancellor of the Exchequer in the Baldwin Cabinet. He stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel.

Indira Gandhi
Year of visit:
unknown 
Reason for visit: Gandhi, who served as India’s first female prime minister from 1980 to 1984, made a memorable trip to Banff and stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel. I have not yet found out what year and why she visited.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Portrait image of former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev

Year of visit: May 1983
Reason for visit: Gorbachev traveled to Banff for his eight-day official trip to Canada. On a journey that took him as far as the Rockies, the Soviet leader who ended the Cold War met Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. 

Margaret Thatcher
Year of visit:
1992
Reason for visit: Thatcher traveled to Banff National Park because of an invitation to lecture at the Banff Springs Hotel. This was after her tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which ended in late 1990. 

ROYALTY

King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan
Year of visit: October 1989
Reason for visit: King Hussein and his wife came to Canada for an official visit in October 1989. On his trip through the country, he also made a stop in Banff, where he met with radio amateurs. Hussein was said to be an avid amateur radio operator.

Queen Elizabeth and King George VI
Year of visit:
May 27, 1939
Reason for visit: During their 1939 royal tour of Canada, Queen Elizabeth and King George VI made a stop in Banff to highlight the connections between Britain and Canada. Major P.J. Jennings, the park’s superintendent, led them on a climb up Tunnel Mountain, and they made several stops in town.

Dan

As a former Banffite, I love writing about my favorite piece on the globe. I keep coming back to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty the park offers. It just never fails to impress me. With my extensive knowledge of the area, I aim to provide you with the best informational posts on Banff you can find on the internet.

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