The best ski festivals in Europe this winter

updated 3/12/2019
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You don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder to enjoy some of the biggest festivals ever seen on snow. From music and comedy to film, there’s something to keep everyone entertained in the mountains this winter – both on and off the slopes. Here are nine of the best ski festivals in Europe.

1. Rise Festival, Les Deux Alpes, France

Les Deux Alpes kicks off the season in high-altitude style with Rise Festival, where electro, funk, rock and pop acts perform on the highest skiable glacier in Europe.

Dozens of gigs take place throughout the week all day and night, including headlining sets from Craig David and Bicep. Look out for a chance to get a prized invitation to one of the exclusive secret adventure parties – if you don’t mind walking up the mountain to get there. Everything is included in the price of your lift pass.

December 16-23 2017

Les Deux Alpes © Inu/Shutterstock

2. European Film Festival, Les Arcs, France

Les Arcs in France’s Paradiski also gets the festival fever early in the season with this showcase of the latest in European cinema. More than 120 films are screened at all altitudes, from purpose-built cinemas in Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 to the magical sight of films being shown against the snowy walls of the Igloo at 2200m.

December 16-23 2017

3. European Gay Ski Week, Les Menuires, France

One of Europe’s biggest gay festivals on snow celebrates its 10th birthday this winter from March 17-24 2018 in Les Menuires. Après-ski gigs on the slopes, club nights and pool parties keep things going until the morning.

Join one of the group ski days to explore the world’s largest ski domain – the Trois Vallées – and don’t miss out on the fondue and raclette nights.

March 17–24 2018

4. Snowboxx, Avoriaz, France

This thumping electro festival doesn’t just deliver on the music front – which ranges from huge outdoor spectacles to intimate little gigs in the centre of this high-altitude Portes du Soleil resort. Look out for this year’s headliners Chase & Status and Fatboy Slim. Join one of the igloo parties or bottomless brunches on sunny terraces.

For something more bonkers, try one of the festival’s notorious snowball fight nights, a game of human bowling in a giant zorb ball or even a dip in the icy Skim Pool.

March 17-24 2018

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5. Rock the Pistes, Portes du Soleil, France/Switzerland

Time to dance in your ski boots as Rock the Pistes returns to its French-Swiss home of Portes du Soleil. The free party starts with lunchtime gigs at the foot of the pistes and carries on into après time with 50 concerts throughout the festival.

This year’s line-up is typically eclectic, with acts from all around Europe including the Horrors and Berlin-based Brit Alice Merton.

March 18-24 2018

6. Swing on Snow, Seiser Alm, Italy

Bask in the jaw-dropping splendour of the Italian Dolomites during eight days of chilled-out music in the mountains of Seiser Alm.

Local musicians serenade you with free concerts of jazz, folk, soul and pop both on the slopes of the Alpe di Siusi and in the villages of Castelrotto, Siusi Fiè and Tires at the foot of the Sciliar mountains. Gigs begin in the morning and carry on all evening in this picturesque corner of Italy’s South Tyrol region.

March 18-25 2018

7. Altitude Comedy Festival, Avoriaz, France

For more than ten years, the Altitude Comedy Festival has been the funniest show on snow. Founded by winter sports-mad comedians Andrew Maxwell and Marcus Brigstocke, the festival had moved from its original home in Méribel to Mayrhofen.

This year it’s going to be making special guest appearances during Snowboxx in Avoriaz, and there’s even talk of the festival taking itself on tour at other Alpine resorts later in the season.

March 17-24 2018

Avoriaz © Frank Walter/Shutterstock

8. New Orleans Meets Snow, St Anton, Austria

With St Anton’s justifiably raucous reputation, it never needs an excuse to throw a party. But instead of cheesy Austrian pop, it celebrates the best of Bourbon Street during its New Orleans Meets Snow festival.

Bands playing jazz, blues, soul and funk turn the village and mountains into one giant free party. The highlight is the Saturday Blues Night with special guest Vasti Jackson from New Orleans joining local blues performers Markus Linder Band.

April 6-8 2018

9. Snowbombing, Mayrhofen, Austria

The daddy of all Alpine festivals brings a late-season buzz to Mayrhofen. Snowbombing combines open-air rock, pop and dance gigs with igloo parties, forest raves, chairlift speed dating, fancy-dress nights and even karaoke in cable cars (fittingly called cable car-aoke). Liam Gallagher, Dizzee Rascal and Pendulum are among the headliners to look out for in 2018. If you need to catch your breath, join one of the yoga sessions in the midst of the mountains. Even getting there is part of the fun if you take part in the SB Road Trip – a madcap car rally covering four countries in two days.

April 9-14 2018

Top image © Philipp Blaschke/Shutterstock

author photo
updated 3/12/2019
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Mary is an award-winning travel journalist with a particular interest in France, Italy, Croatia and Serbia. When she's not writing about food and culture, she's on a mountain somewhere writing about skiing and hiking. Follow her @mary_novakovich on Twitter and @marynovakovich on Instagram.

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