This winter's most exciting mountain festivals

The hills are alive... with the sound of electronica, techno, indie, jazz and Beethoven. Patrick Thorne puts down his skis and selects the best festivals

What's the attraction?

A day on the ski slopes isn't enough to exhaust many young skiers, and, perhaps as a result, the mountain music-festival scene has blossomed. The majority take place during the final month of the season and there are now dozens of options across the Alps, with nearly every genre of music catered for. Long-established events include the BRITS in France (the-brits.com) and Snowbombing in Austria (snowbombing.com), which can each attract up to 5,000 visitors. Many festivals offer packages of accommodation and lift pass, with the music and parties a free bonus, helping to make ski holidays more affordable.

Andorra – perfect for festivals

Andorra's mix of sunny slopes and duty-free bars make it ideal for festivals. The Big Snow Festival (not on in 2013) started here five years ago and a new event, Snowboxx (0843 2896728; snowboxx.com), tag-line "Ibiza on Ice," launches in Arinsal from 22-28 March. While the festival is reported to have sold out, organisers say more tickets should be released on 26 January. A third option in the Pyrenean principality, Pas Rocks (11-15 March) in Pas de la Casa, offers lift pass, ski rentals and and Ibiza DJ club nights for £255. Crystal offers seven nights' self-catering at the Manzano Apartments at £297pp including Gatwick flights on 10 March (0871 231 2256; crystalski.co.uk).

Who said that?

"Snowbombing is Glastonbury on ice." – Fat Boy Slim

"[At] Altitude ... people are seeing acts who can sell out 1,500 capacity theatres, in the back of a bar." – Marcus Brigstocke

"I love the apres-ski scene in Ischgl. You guys party like it's your job." – Katy Perry

Choose your genre

There are many smaller events that focus on a particular musical genre. Classicaval (festival-classicaval.com) is a classical music festival with performances including Beethoven and Schumann staged in Val d'Isère's old baroque church from 19-21 March. There's a week devoted to jazz in the Jazz Up festival in Avoriaz (avoriaz.com; 6-12 April) with live music in the French resort's bars, cafés and restaurants as well as gala concerts. If you prefer acoustic sounds then Zermatt Unplugged (9-13 April; zermatt-unplugged.ch) features Brian Ferry. Or immerse yourself in the sounds of the Hapsburg Court of two centuries ago. Emperor Francesco Giuseppe spent time in Italy's Madonna di Campiglio (campiglio dolomiti.it) and the resort recreates his visits each winter with a week of events (10-15 February).

At the other extreme, La Plagne's Mix Mountain (28 Jan- 1 Feb; montalbert.com) is for electronic music fans, with internationally renowned French house and electro DJs banging out the tunes for free.

Snow jokes

It's not all music: the Altitude Comedy Festival (altitudefestival.com) arrives in Mayrhofen from 18-22 March just before Snowbombing. It was established by comedian and keen snowboarder Marcus Brigstocke, and while the festival's 2013 line-up has not yet been released, in 2012 stars included Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Ed Byrne, Tim Minchin and many others. Crystal Ski (0871 231 2256; crystalski.co.uk), offers a week's B&B at the three-star Hotel Obermair from £399pp from 16 March including transfers and flights from Gatwick.

Insider Information

"You need to remember why you're at the festival and how much you've spent. For me, the snowboarding and camaraderie come first and the music/parties are a bonus. If you can burn the candle at both ends and crash when you get home, then go for it. Luckily, hangovers clear quickly in the mountains." Duncan Worrell, director of Snowboard Club UK (snowboard club.co.uk).

Top pop

Ischgl in Austria is proud of its five-month ski season and helps publicise it by staging two of the biggest music concerts in the mountains at the beginning and end of the season. Top of the Mountain's (00 43 5444 100; ischgl.com) alumni include Mariah Carey, Mel C, Rihanna, Pink, Kylie, Katy Perry and Elton John (twice). This year's headline act is yet to be announced but it's likely to be a big name, attracting up to 20,000 fans. The spring event ends on 30 April and you need a lift pass to get up there, but the gig will be free. Ski Solutions (020-7471 7700; skisolutions.com) offers four nights' B&B at the four-star Hotel Sylvia from 27 April for £665pp with Gatwick flights and transfers.

Party on the piste

Snowbombing (1-6 April; snowbombing.com) is the biggest of the British-run festivals in the Alps, attracting the biggest stars (this year Kasabian and Katy B headline) and the biggest crowds to the Austrian Tyrolean resort of Mayrhofen. It is sold as an accommodation and entertainment package and you cannot buy access if you're already in resort. Packages are available, ranging from £319 for accommodation and all the entertainment, to £529 for B&B at the four-star Hotel Mannis. Travel not included, but return coach travel can be booked via the Snowbombing website from £118 return from Dover, to £134 from Manchester. A 36-hour road trip is arranged by festival organisers, costing £259 per car.

World-class snow and music

The BRITS (23-30 March) is – at 24 years old – one of the longest established festivals. Providing a week of fun on and off the piste, it combines music and events with world-class freestyle ski and snowboard events as the UK's best compete for points and prizes. After a long spell in Switzerland, the festival moves to the French resort of Tignes for 2013; the Nextmen are headlining. Packages, starting at £279 per person, include seven nights' self-catered accommodation, a six-day lift pass and festival wristband (the-brits.com/tignes-accommodation). Travel not included.

Ski for free entertainment

Most ski music festivals bring the party to the resort. However, Rock The Pistes (20-24 March; en.rockthepistes.com) asks you to ski or board to the free lunchtime concerts. The format emphasises the fact that gigs are staged in one of the world's biggest ski areas, Portes du Soleil (en.portesdusoleil.com) with 12 resorts on each side of the French-Swiss border, including Champéry, Chatel, Les Gets and Morzine. There's an eclectic mix of performers and the concerts take place in stunning locations at 1.30pm each day. Thomson (0871 971 0578; thomsonski.co.uk) offers seven nights' B&B at the two-star Hotel Igloo in Morzine, departing 18 March, from £479pp, including flights from Gatwick.

News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
people

Tennis star is set to marry his long-term girlfriend, Kim Sears

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Investigo: Senior Finance Analyst - Global Leisure Business

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luton – £25k

    25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?