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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future