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.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
scienceTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

    Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
    Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

    Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

    The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
    Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

    Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

    This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
    Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

    Education: Secret of Taunton's success

    Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
    10 best smartphones

    10 best smartphones

    With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal