Our top ten ski resorts to spend Christmas
With December looming, Christmas plans are no doubt starting to grudgingly emerge from the woodwork. The fiasco of the large family dinner, the spectacle that is decorating the house from head to toe with ten-year old tinsel and Christmas lights that stubbornly refuse to unravel themselves…Nevertheless, this all-too predictable festive period still never fails to delight us.
But occasionally, despite how much we love this period’s imperfections, it can be a real treat to spend Christmas elsewhere – perhaps minus the extended family. And with El Niño supposedly on its way, escaping the unpleasant British cold for the fresh, crisp mountain air seems like a pretty wise decision.
Let us inspire you with our ‘top ten ski resorts to spend Christmas’ and maybe, just maybe, save you from another Christmas day charades family-marathon.
Saint Martin-de-Belleville, Les Trois Vallées – France
Kicking-off on the 21st December, this picturesque 16th century village resort is offering a large selection of activities to sink your teeth into. There’s the famous ‘Visite de village aux flambeaux’ which invites you to witness a stunning festive tradition, transporting you back in time, beneath the Alpine moonlight. Then come Christmas Eve, you can watch the fireworks, enjoy the live music and witness the ski instructor’s fiery parade down the piste. What’s more, Saint Martin-de-Belleville’s restaurant La Bouitte has just received a third Michelin star – so if you’re planning on splashing out this Christmas, this innovative cuisine really takes the biscouit.
Courchevel, Les Trois Vallées – France
A family-friendly gem, tucked neatly away into the Alps. Come December, this vibrant resort transforms itself into a festive feast for the eyes. With spectacular shows, the arrival of Father Christmas and live music playing in the streets of all 5 village’s…You will never be short of free entertainment nor an opportunity to sip on a ‘vin chaud’. If that isn’t enough to wet your whistle, the Christmas parade through this charming alpine resort will be sure to give you that festive feel.
Zell am See – Austria
If you’re after the traditional ‘Christmas card’ alpine village with deep, fluffy snow and twinkling lights then Zell Am See is certainly a good choice. During the four weekends leading up to Christmas, this stunning Austrian market town plays host to a spectacular starry-advent market with more than 20 huts offering wooden toys, deliciously mulled-wine, freshly baked Christmas cookies, roasted almonds and home-knitted delights. With the pedestrianized centre positively bursting with the buzz of young and old enjoying the festivities, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable – and merry – Christmas.
Hemsedal – Norway
Looking to the country that sends us our enormous Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square each winter, the Scandinavian resort of Hemsedal in Norway proudly boasts one of the best snow records in Scandinavia. The cost of Christmas out there may well take you until next Christmas to pay off, but it’s certainly worth it for the enormous nightlife scene, the abundance of winter activities and the enchanting forests – where it is common practise to go venturing into the wilderness with a small saw to chop down your very own Christmas tree and take it back to your chalet to decorate. Nothing like a bit of DIY!
Megève, Haute Savoie – France
The lighting of the Megève Christmas tree is one of the most highly-anticipated occasions in the Haute Savoie winter calendar. This grand spectacle which marks the start of the winter season takes place on the 5 December in the ‘Place du Village’. The town is invited to decorate a huge Sapin Noël with Swarovski crystal decorations and metres of Christmas lights. This, teamed with Megève’s horse-drawn carriages and boutique shops, creates the atmosphere of a vibrant festive period which is ever-so easy on the eyes and might just give you goose bumps.
Val Thorens, Les Trois Vallées – France
Val Thorens, famous for its impressive altitude, celebrates the festive period from 19 – 26 December. At a grand height of 2300 metres, the resort will be offering a flurry of snowflakes, an elf fanfare, a meeting with Father Christmas, a sparkling show on the bottom of the piste and a children’s torchlight descent. What’s more, the nightlife scene is overflowing with party-hungry skiers on the prowl for bars filled with merry revellers… Pass the champagne!
Samnaum – Switzerland
A tax-free haven and the official host of the ‘ClauWau World Championship of Santa Clauses’, it’s no wonder that Samnaum falls into our top 10. On 28 November, Father Christmas figures will come from far and wide to battle for the ultimate title – to be crowned the best St. Nick. The championship begins with racing snowmobiles and other festive games. After the finals at Samnaun Dorf, the season opening concert with the German band “Dorfrocker” will take place at 10pm. Festive levels: High.
Les Gets – France
Les Gets is a 12th-century dairy farming village that has retained much of its old Savoyard charm. It’s built a sterling reputation for its family-friendly nature, offering unique attractions such as its chocolate workshop and mechanical music museum. Santa spends two weeks in residence over Christmas along with his elves right through until early January. If you look out for him you are bound to see old St. Nick kicking around on the slopes – even he gets to have a break too, right?
Kitzbühel – Austria
From 26 November until 24 December the town will play host to an impressive Christmas market in its medieval town centre. Resembling a scene from a Christmas card, the delightful cobbled streets pave the way for the lively festivities and delicious Tyrolean delicacies. Set to kick off on 26 November, this fabulous event will give you a snapshot of Austrian tradition in a truly unique setting. Also famous for its sporting history, this idyllic resort has been awarded the prestigious title of ‘the best ski area’ – so grab your skis!
Flaine – France
This snow sure resort has a peak of 2500m, making it an ideal location for a spot of Christmas skiing. What’s more, it has an energetic après-scene with heaps of bars and stylish restaurants as well as a vibrant family-friendly atmosphere. Over the holiday period, this Alpine resort offers a large number of activities including shows, choirs, a torchlight descent, a visit to Father Christmas, and a firework display so you’ll never be short of festive fun. The Ski Club has two colourful Scandinavian-style chalets nestled in Les Chamets du Hameau – just a stone’s throw away from the town.
Our Freshtracks holidays offer a variety of trips out to Flaine over the festive period – and you can even rent our 12-person chalet from December 19-26 for £4000 for the week – a great way to treat yourself and to enjoy some quality time with friends and family this winter!
Written by Hannah Goddard – Ski Club Blog Contributor