The British music festival is a summer tradition that suffers from a lot of inherent problems. Muddy fields, warm lager in paper cups and the inevitable rain can sometimes ruin the experience of seeing some of your favourite bands or DJs. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. Why freeze to death in a muddy tent, when you could be partying by the slopes and spending the night in your cosy hotel room? Winter is obviously our favourite season, and for snow sports fanatics, there surely can’t be anything better than having huge apres parties soundtracked by your favourite artists. Luckily, a plethora of ski music festivals have sprung up in resorts over the last few years. In this article, I’ll be explaining why these parties deserve your time, and which festivals are not to be missed.
Combine a ski holiday and festival in one
I love apres. For me, I’d much rather be dancing on a table with a Gluhwein than tackle an overcrowded, mogul-filled home run. While I’ve travelled all that way to hit the mountain, I’m on holiday as well, and staying up late drinking with my mates is all part of the experience. The cheesy Euro pop that blares out of slopeside speakers certainly has its own charm, but getting to see a live set from The Prodigy, or The Chemical Brothers (who are both playing at Mayrhofen’s Snowboming festival this week) is obviously a lot better.
Another reason to combine the two holidays is price. Let’s face it, ski holidays and festivals can be expensive. I’ve racked up quite a debt in the past travelling to far-flung corners of the UK, buying tents, buying camping equipment etc. While it’s nice to have at least two opportunities a year to enter your overdraft, it makes financial sense to forgo the muddy fields of Glastonbury, and combine it with your yearly trip to the slopes. You’ll save so much, you could afford an extra beer (or five) during the headline set.
Try out new resorts
While it’s nice to go back to the same resort, year after year, there comes a time where you’ve mastered all the runs and you want to try somewhere else. Most of the larger festivals are in big, popular resorts (Snowbombing in Mayrhofen, Winter Sessions in Chamonix or Meribel Live in -you guessed it – Meribel), but in recent seasons, some really great festivals have been popping up in lesser known resorts. Horizon Festival, which just had its opening week-long party in March, has a fantastic line up of DJs and takes place in the incredibly cheap party resort of Bansko, in Bulgaria. While somewhere like Bansko may have never been on your radar before, a great line up may persuade you to travel somewhere that could become your resort of choice in the future.
Our top tips for an Alpine festival
- Check your altitude – If you’re a regular partier on the slopes, you’ll know the dangers of drinking at altitude from past experiences. With festivals, you’ll want to stay around until the end of the night to catch the headliners, so you’ll need to pace yourself. While you might be able to knock back a few pints on a Friday evening at home, you’ll could end up on the floor at 2,000 metres after the same amount. I saw David Guetta on the glacier in Solden, Austria at around 2,600 metres, and let’s just say I didn’t take this advice into account. Ouch…
- Don’t go overboard – While one of the main reasons to go to a festival is to have some drinks and boogie the night away, you’re still in a ski resort and you’ll want to get on the mountain the morning after. You may not make first lifts, but there’s nothing worse than wasting a holiday lying in bed. Who knows, you may even see one of your favourite musicians stack it the night after a big performance.
- Make sure your boots are comfortable – There’s nothing worse than uncomfortable ski or snowboard boots when you’re actually skiing, but some people will make do as they know they can take them off after their last run of the day. However, those planning on dancing until 1am, will need to take care of their feet if they want to be able to enjoy the mountain the next day. I’d recommend taking a backpack onto the slopes with some trainers in, or maybe popping back early to your hotel or chalet to change.
- Have fun! You won’t get a better holiday than this, so see as many bands as you can, enjoy a few Jagermeisters with friends and follow the motto of the Telus festival in Whistler, Canada: “Party in April. Sleep in May”
Some of our favourite festivals
- Snowbombing, Mayrhofen, Austria – The original daddy of in-resort music festivals, Snowbombing recently had its 14th year. Combining great bands, DJs and ‘up and coming’ artists, Snowbombing takes over the whole resort of Mayrhofen and has to be seen to be believed. 70 acts play to crowded dance floors, and the line ups can rival some of the well known British summer festivals. You also get the joys of Mr Motivator getting the crowd going after a big night, which is worth the trip alone. Austrians know how to throw a party!
- Basscamp, Morzine, France – Basscamp isn’t one festival over consecutive days, but a couple of sessions over the season, with a focus on DJs and electronic music. The line ups have improved each year, and the insistence of the crowd to dress in 80s ski gear and neon onesies really makes it an awesome atmosphere. The enormous 650km of piste on offer in Morzine helps as well.
- Snowboxx, Arinsal, Andorra – Andorra is notorious for its parties, due to its cheap prices and young crowd. This festival has been dubbed “Ibiza on Ice” and Arinsal can offer duty-free prices on alcohol, so it will generally be popular with Brits.
- Rave on Snow, Saalbach, Austria – Saalbach may be the most underrated resort in Europe, with its incredible ski area and crazy apres remaining, pretty much, under the radar. However, Rave on Snow had its 20th year last year and is still the best place to see techno and trance favourites, like Sven Vath, and is helping Saalbach get the attention it deserves as an amazing all round ski resort.
- Horizon, Bansko, Bulgaria – With a fantastic line up and being organised by the guys who run the awesome Hideout and Dimension summer festivals in Croatia, Horizon is a party not to be missed. With cheap flights, cheap drinks and cheap lift passes, this will be a much more affordable festival than some of the others, and attracts a younger crowd.