The UK & Ireland leg of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is a chance to fuel your wanderlust without even leaving your home town. This is an event that brings mountain sports to you on the big screen, with stunning backdrops and huge characters to inspire your next adventure. And this year’s programme certainly did not disappoint…

Banff Mountain Film Festival UK & Ireland

In 2016 the tour hit the road again visiting 40 countries, and giving some half a million people the chance to experience the best films from Canada’s annual nine day Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

Over 370 films were entered into the festival in 2015 but only the most outstanding and inspirational get to be featured in the world tour.

In the UK and Ireland, the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour was bigger than ever in 2016, with 55 towns and cities having the opportunity to host a showing over five months, and two separate film programmes to enjoy (Red and Blue). I’m not quite sure how organisers Nell Teasdale and Simon Piper cope with what must be a relentless programme!

Whether it’s climbing, snow sports, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking or just armchair adventuring that you love, there is something here for everyone. I went along to Salisbury for the Blue Programme which featured seven awe-inspiring films to enjoy, including five award winning films.

The Films

The highlight for me was a showing of Operation Moffat, a 20 minute film about the colourful and adventurous life of climbing legend Gwen Moffat, who was Britain’s first female mountain guide.

Writer Claire Carter and filmmaker Jen Randall retrace some of Gwen’s favourite climbs as they tell the fascinating tale of her life as a young climber; sleeping in the wilderness, swimming in mountain lakes and taking on some of the world’s highest peaks with little more than a pair of old boots and a good rope.

It is quite clear that Gwen is a huge inspiration to the film makers  as they improve their climbing through walking in her shoes, as well as an inspiration to audiences across the world. I for one will be looking up a copy of her memoir Space Below My Feet to find out more about this incredible woman.

In case the climbing in Operation Moffat was not vertigo-inducing enough, another 20 minute film took the audience to one of the wildest events in the climbing calendar. Showdown at Horseshoe Hell follows elite climbers and novices alike as they take on the challenge of climbing as many routes as they can in a 24 hour period.

This might sound pretty serious, and it is a highly competitive event, but all this happens in the context of a crazy festival with some really funny personalities and lots of partying to fit in too. Expect bleeding hands and sore heads!

In contrast, The Important Places is a ten-minute short which follows Forest Woodward as he takes his 77 year old father on a Grand Canyon River trip to retrace a journey he made himself by river some 43 years earlier.

Hoping to understand more about his father as a young man, this touching film follows Forest and his dad Doug as they travel to the Grand Canyon and share stories about getting old and the important places that have left a lasting impression on them both.

Eclipse was the winner of the Best Film in the Snow Sports category at Banff and follows photographer Reuben Krabbe who is determined to capture a photo of a downhill skier descending the mountain with a solar eclipse as the backdrop. Sounds simple right?

But this 30 minute film shows us that getting that perfect picture is far from straightforward as Krabbe and his team head to Svalbard in Norway and come up against difficult weather and polar bears, among many other challenges. You’ll have to watch the film to find out if he got that perfect shot!

Chasing Niagara was the winner of the highly esteemed People’s Choice Award at Banff and features Pro-Kayaker Rafa Ortis as he prepares for the daring (or some might say foolhardy) challenge of paddling his kayak over the 167 feet (50m) vertical drop of Niagara Falls.

The film follows his two-year journey to prepare and features trips to the rivers of Mexican rainforests, the waterfalls of the American North West, and finally to Canada where he plans to risk both life and liberty in this remarkable feat at the iconic Niagara Falls. But the journey is not without incident along the way. Will he make the final descent? Prepare to be on the edge of your seat as you find out.

Builder is one of two nine-minute films that complete the programme and introduces us to some of mountain biking’s best riders and course builders and (most importantly) you get to see them in action. I really don’t know how these guys don’t break more bones!

And finally, 55 Hours in Mexico shows us that having a full time job need not be a barrier to adventure, as a group of four friends set out to climb the third highest peak and in North America and ski back down it before arriving back at their desks in time for work on Monday. This is taking the micro-adventure to a new level.

As well as a fantastic programme of films, the tour is well known for its generous competitions and giveaways with some great prizes from tour sponsors, which included Keen and Cotswold Outdoor in 2016.

As usual I came away from the film festival feeling inspired and full of admiration. With six more films in the Red Programme, I wished I could have seen them all and definitely recommend checking out the Banff Mountain Film Festival next year at a town near you.

For more information about the The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour visit

Images courtesy of Free Images UK.

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About Author

My name is Emilia - I love versatile trips! You might find me at a trendy new restaurant one night, but the next day you're just as likely to find me at a local market sampling exotic foods. I'm open to just about anything when I travel and I want to encourage you to be open too!