Best Ski Festivals to Visit in 2016
Why wait until summer to dance and drink the night away? The best parties in the world are ski festivals – they’re a great way to meet new friends, fun and, of course, do plenty of skiing or snowboarding.
Unlike your typical music festival, they’re also great value for money, making it an ideal time to hit the slopes. Here are the best of the bunch for 2016.
Between April 4 and 9 this year, the beautiful, traditional Tirol town of Mayrhofen is taken over by the Snowbombing festival. There are parties galore happening over the six day period, with many taking place in unusual locations – expect barn dances out in the backcountry, and raves in igloos on top of a mountain.
The line-up is fantastic too; The Prodigy, Bastille and Fatboy Slim, among others, will all be performing live. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a pro rider competition that is not to be missed. Ride and Seek claims to be the world’s funniest skiing and snowboarding competition – pro riders will be battling it out for the chance to win money, prizes and, of course, honour. Live music plays throughout the competition, so you can watch while dancing and downing schnapps; what could be better?
In order to get entry to Snowbombing, you’ll need to book accommodation through the official website. Prices start from around £339 for a five night stay, plus your festival wristband. If you want to hit the slopes you’ll need a lift pass, which costs £95 per person for two days on the mountain.
Horizon Festival, Bulgaria
Worried about about breaking the bank? Horizon Festival in Bansko, Bulgaria, is one of the best-priced ski festivals around. Prices start from just £175 for your ticket to the festivities and six nights’ accommodation (March 12 – 17), and beer here is just £2 a pint.
So what do you get for your money? For starters, there is a huge and varied line-up, with acts including DJ EQ, Foreign Concept, Congo Natty and Craig Charles – yes, the guy from Robot Wars and Red Dwarf. They’ll be playing across 15 quirky venues, one of which is an abandoned hotel in the middle of a dense pine forest. It’s the perfect location in which to have a mountain-side party and munch on delicious wood-fired pizza.
If you’ve got a little cash to spare, there are plenty of extra activities you can take part in too – you could shoot your mates in the snow with the Forest Paintball Wars, and afterwards you could head to a hot spa to heal your wounds and watch your favourite films at the Hot Spa Cinema. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll have a blast!
Brew-Ski Festival, Michigan USA
Raves and all-nighters aren’t your thing? Well if you love beer, we suggest you try the Brew-Ski Festival in Boyne Highlands, Michigan. On March 12, you’ll have the opportunity to sample 285 different beers from 65 breweries – although we recommend you don’t try them all. Each beer costs $2 (£1.32) for a 4 ounce sample, and there’s no charge to get in to the festival. The only catch is that you’ll need a lift pass, which costs $109 (£71.95) for the day. Before you start drinking, we suggest you check out the piste and go for a ski or snowboard.
Whilst you’re drinking, you can enjoy some free live music and line your stomach with burgers and bratwurst. The Zoo Bar will be open later on for anyone wanting to continue the party.
Rock the Pistes, France/Switzerland
This festival takes places across the huge Portes du Soleil ski area on the French-Swiss border, and you’ll get to explore all of it. You’ll need to ski to each performance, and every day the location of the stage changes. Dancing in your ski/snowboard boots is tricky at first, but you’ll soon get used to it!
The performances themselves are free, but you’ll need a special lift pass to get access to them. Rock the Pistes offers some great accommodation and lift pass deals – for example a seven-night stay (March 13 – 19) in Les Gets and a six day lift pass could cost you as little as €294 (£212) per person, which is an incredibly good price just for the skiing and accommodation alone!
Rock the Pistes’ 2016’s line-up includes a variety of European artists, including Irish indie band Two Door Cinema Club, French pop-rock singer Hubert-Félix Thiéfaine and Swiss hard rock band Gotthard. There really is something for everyone.
The party never stops at Snowboxx, with raves taking place all over the resort. Enjoy a mix of hip-hop, dance and bass in quirky venues including igloos, open air stages, and a waterpark. At 2016’s festival, expect to see the likes of former The Streets frontman Mike Skinner, Grandmaster Flash and Stormzy.
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When you’re not raving on the side of the mountain, you’ll want to check out some of the other activities taking place. The brave may want to take part in the ultimate snowball fight at the arena, or try their hand at disco dodgeball, while wannabe hip-hop stars might want to perform in one of Snowboxx’s karaoke cabins.
Snowboxx remains reasonably priced despite its recent move from a budget resort in Andorra to Avoriaz in France. Prices for a five day lift pass, accommodation and festival wristband covering all seven days (March 12 – 19) start at just £239 per person – if you want even more time on the slopes, an extra £20 will add another day to your lift pass. Of course if you want to just go for the parties, you can give the skiing a miss altogether and save yourself £80.
Whether you want to ski, dance, or do both, these festivals have got you covered. Now you’ve just got to pick which one to go to next year! We suggest booking your tickets and accommodation soon, as they will likely sell out if you leave it too late. Don’t forget to book your travel insurance and flights at the same time.