Off Piste: 8 Ski Resort Festivals

We take a look at eight of the best winter festivals across European mountains. Visit winter resorts everywhere from Bulgaria to Mont Blanc.

Looking for more than downhills, hot chocolate and a sunburnt nose from a ski holiday? You’re in luck. In-season festivals have become hugely popular across Europe’s big winter resorts, with high-profile DJs, musicians and comedians performing on mountains everywhere from Bulgaria to Mont Blanc. Here are eight of the best events for the months ahead.

Banner Image Credit: iStock.com/Mike Sheridan

Rise

Where: Les Deux Alpes, France

When: 10-17 December 2016

As any skier or snowboarder worth their reflective goggles well knows, Les Deux Alpes offers guaranteed snow cover. This is thanks to the presence of Europe’s highest skiable glacier, which in turn provides a suitably momentous backdrop for this dance-heavy festival in the run-up to Christmas. As well as a lengthy line-up, the resort will also offer chairlift speed-dating, skidoo competitions and, for experienced skiers, some excellent guided off-piste trails.

Transition

Where: Avoriaz, France

When: TBC

If the thought of 3000 people raving in the snow is an appealing one, this might be the one for you. Offering six days of partying in the car-free mountain resort of Avoriaz, Transition is a new event for the coming season. And there’s more than just music on offer – pool parties and mountain-top barbecues are also on the agenda. Avoriaz itself is a classic ski-in, ski-out resort, forming part of the famous Portes du Soleil region.

Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience

Where: Courmayeur, Italy

When: 17-20 March 2017

If you happen to be passionate about both food and winter sports (thought so), events don’t get much more eye-catching than this. Returning to the Italian resort of Courmayeur for a fourth year, this culinary festival gives guests the chance to join three British Michelin-starred chefs – Marcus Wareing, Sat Bains and Heston Blumenthal, no less – for three days of skiing and dining.

Altitude Comedy Festival

Where: Mayrhofen, Austria

When: 11-17 December 2016

Yep, it’s still tickling the Tyrol. A comedy festival in the Austrian Alps might not seem the most obvious idea, but Altitude is about to enter into its eleventh year of bringing stand-up to the slopes. The festival runs for five nights in the ridiculously beautiful surrounds of Mayrhofen, and fancy dress is encouraged. In fact, scratch that – it’s borderline obligatory.

Horizon

Where: Bansko, Bulgaria

When: TBC

Part of the appeal is its range of different venues: performances take place everywhere from abandoned factories and medieval halls to forest stages. Need some respite? You’ll also find more than 40 miles of pistes to enjoy. A further perk is that Bansko is renowned as one of the most affordable large-scale ski resorts in Europe.

Snowboxx

Where: Avoriaz, France

When: 18-25 March 2017

If Transition marks the start of the season’s festivities for Avoriaz, the longer-established Snowboxx – held three months later – comes just a few weeks before the French resort closes its winter ski lifts. The weeklong knees-up is a proven success story, with features including a wood-sculpture park, igloo raves, mountain sleepovers, on-piste rock stages, karaoke cabins and Ultimate Snowball Fights. It’s been billed as “Ibiza on Ice”, and generally draws high-profile musicians and DJs.

The Brits

Where: Laax, Switzerland

When: 2-9 April 2017

Incorporating the British Snowboard & Freeski Championship, this week-long music and winter-sports festival descends on the Swiss resort of Laax for its 2017 edition. It takes a novel open-door approach to competition, with top-tier Team GB athletes involved and keen amateurs also encouraged to give the big prizes a shot. Freestylers take note: Laax has no less than four snowparks, as well as being home to the world’s largest half-pipe. It was named Switzerland’s Best Ski Resort in both 2014 and 2015.

Snowbombing

Where: Mayrhofen, Austria

When: 3-8 April 2017

Running since way back in 2000 – and a fixture in Mayrhofen from 2005 – Snowbombing is one of Europe’s biggest music-based ski parties. Proof? The organisers describe those who attend as “free spirits who treasure music, mischief and mountains in equal measure”. Uniquely, the event also offers its own communal road trip, aimed at festival-goers who fancy arriving in convoy on a two-day, five-country car journey from the UK.

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