Going on a ski or snowboarding holiday need not be just ski-ski-ski. After all, what about the beginners or partygoers in your group? Andy Sturt, MD of chalet-holiday specialist VIP Ski is full of suggestions.
Music festivals, events and a whole host of crazy themes in the Alps are growing ever more popular. Each winter we see old favourites return along with new ideas and destinations for entertainment, music and dancing on snow. Resorts are realising they need to provide more than just skiing to attract new people to visit, and some of these events are definitely worth planning your ski holiday around.
Often as good as festivals back at home, these ones come without torrential rain, muddy fields, soggy tents and queues for showers and loos. At snow festivals you can stay in your own accommodation, ski all day, and set yourself up for a shindig on the slopes with slap-up mountain lunches.
Here are a few of the best snow festivals, with suggested places to stay for each of them.
Snowboxx Festival, Avoriaz
Avoriaz has always been at the forefront of all that’s new in skiing – after all, it was one of the first resorts to embrace snowboarding and build snowparks.
When Snowboxx comes to the resort it creates its own town within a town, an arena where all the festival action, including gigs and international DJs, take place each lunchtime. Rock the Pistes is on the same week.
Acts have included Sigma, Blonde, Grandmaster Flash (one of the most famous hip hop DJs of all time, who pioneered most modern DJ mixing techniques like ‘scratching’ in the late 70s and 80s), Mike Skinner/The Streets, rap artist Stormzy, and DJ Monki & Friends. Previous artists include the Klaxons and Babyshambles.
Extra parties take place in some unusual locations varying from a tropical waterpark to igloos, snowparks and even a dedicated games arena. On top of this are night-time displays on snow by local ski and snowboard instructors.
Stay: Chalet Poudreuse in Avoriaz.
Skicolor, Les Gets
The festival in family-friendly Les Gets combines skiing with partying and is centred around the theme of colour. Equipped with protective suits, participants – children included – follow a trail specially developed for the local Mont-Chéry slopes, and they will be immersed in cascades of multicoloured powder throughout.
The goal is to cross the finish-line looking as colourful as possible. The first event attracts over 800 people. There is also entertainment and a live DJ.
Stay: Altitude Lodge in Les Gets.
Rock the Pistes, Avoriaz, Les Gets and Morzine
The music festival takes place in Avoriaz every March. Acts have includes French rock singer and guitarist, Izia; alternative rock, pop and folk duo, Lilly Wood & The Prick; French pop-rock singer-songwriter of the 70s, Hubert Felix Thiefaine; and Spanish alternative rock musician, Deluxe.
They performing every afternoon straight after a DJ set that starts at 12.45. There’s also a second stage hosting gigs at the end of each day.
Information: Rock the Pistes.
Stay: Dakota Lodge in Morzine.
New Orleans meets Snow Festival, St Anton
St Anton hosts the New Orleans meets Snow Festival and brings a touch of Southern flair to this pretty corner of Tirol. Cool funk and blues rhythms will be heard at live concerts on the streets and in many local establishments. They even get into the groove up on the slopes and a typical New Orleans band will march along the high street.
Previous line-ups have included a Blues Night with the Markus Linder Blues Band and star guest from New Orleans, Les Getrex, ex-guitarist of R&B legend Fats Domino.
Information: New Orleans meets Snow Festival.
Stay: Haus Hochkar in St Anton.
No festival could be in a more beautiful location than this one. It consists of acoustic music with 13 stages set at a high altitude with the Matterhorn as a backdrop. Zermatt Unplugged showcases singer-songwriters, bands and young talent from the USA, UK, Germany, France, New Zealand and Switzerland. Past gigs have included James Morrison, Simple Minds, and Angus & Julia Stone.
Information: Zermatt Unplugged.
Stay: Haus Glacier in Zermatt.
3 Vallees Enduro
Feeling salty? Then grab a couple of ski-mad friends and enter the Enduro. This all-day event scatters races across Meribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens, and invites you to try them all before your legs turn to jelly. You go from skicross, to freeride, to big air, to giant slalom events, and despite the family-friendly atmosphere it’s a serious test of stamina, and skiing ability.
There’s also live music to listen to, workshops, games and photo competitions during the day, and in the evening talks include one on Savoyard glaciers.
Information: 3 Vallees Enduro.
Stay: Chalet Zebra in Meribel.
Francofolies Music Festival, Tignes Le Lac/Lavachet
The Francofolies Music Festival, which takes place at La Rochelle on the Bay of Biscay in south-west France, comes to the frozen lake at Tignes. There are three days of music featuring 18 artists and three stages, two of which are on the pistes and one in the village.
Information: Francofolies Music Festival.
Stay: Club Bellevarde in Val d’Isere.
Revelry on the slopes is part and parcel of Snowbombing in Mayrhofen, and when you put together 6,000 fancy-dress-clad party-goers in a ski resort you have the perfect recipe for fun. There are 100 live acts and DJs across more than six venues, which in the past have included The Prodigy, Andy C, Bastille, Fatboy Slim, Jamie Jones, Skepta and Svan Vath.
Top of The Mountain Opening/Closing Concerts, Ischgl
Robbie Williams closed the Ischgl ski season in 2014, James Blunt opened it in for the following winter in 2014, and the Beach Boys opened for the season in 2016. Just who the act will be is always a closely-guarded secret, sometimes right until the last minute. During the events the resort is awash with happy people and the atmosphere is buzzing, especially in the evenings.
Information: Top of the Mountain.
Stay: Haus Gamskar in St Anton. Ischgl is 43 minutes’ drive from St Anton.
The City Championships, Verbier
In February the annual festival of music, comedy and racing takes place in Verbier, giving Europe’s business and financial community the chance to network and mingle with the likes of Marcus Brigstocke, Damon Hill, BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner, and former sprint and hurdling champion Colin Jackson.
Information: City Ski Championships.
Stay: Chalet Tortin in Verbier.