Whatever effect the economy and snow conditions may have on ski holiday bookings, one niche sector appears to be booming – festivals in the mountains.
These have been growing in number and scale over the past few years, but most follow roughly the same pattern: entertainment each night (and often each day) for an all-inclusive price for the week, as part of a full package including some or all elements of travel, accommodation and the costs of rentals and lift tickets.
Such festivals have become more professional in recent years, and are now attracting bigger stars. Most are staged at the end of the season when resorts are keen to fill hotel beds, so they usually offer good value for money.
The Brits (18-25 March; the-brits.com) in Laax, Switzerland, costs just £279 for a week's accommodation, lift pass and festival wristband. This compares favourably to buying a six-day lift pass in the resort, which costs Sfr359 (£246). The cream of UK freestyle skiers and snowboarders battle it out for British Championship medals while fans party, watch gigs and generally have a good time.
Another established festival is Snowbombing (9-14 April; snowbombing.com) in Mayrhofen, Austria, which has a reputation for wild events.
"Snowbombing (above) attracts a bunch of nutters from all over Europe who like partying but then they get up and go snowboarding in the day," says Fatboy Slim, who is throwing a street party this season. Prices from £319 for accommodation and wristband. As Stephen Wood mentions in his column, Mayrhofen is also venue for the Altitude Comedy Festival (26-31 altitudefestival.com). Packages cost from £259 for accommodation and wristband.
Innsbruck is the best gateway for Mayrhofen, though Munich and Verona are also possibilities.
After its successful launch last winter, Rock the Pistes (24-28 March; rockthepistes.com) is back with concerts staged on the piste at locations around the vast Portes du Soleil ski area (650km of pistes and a dozen villages on the French/Swiss border).
Guests who have registered online receive texts the day before the gig, telling them where the free concerts will take place.
If you'd like to try a new destination, then The Big Snow Festival (23-30 March; nomud.com), which launched in Andorra two years ago and has a reputation for bringing a high percentage of non-skiers/boarders to the slopes for the first time, has decided to switch to Kopaonik, a leading ski resort in Serbia. Ticket prices are from £449 including flights from the UK, accommodation and festival entry.