It’s that time of year when ski resorts start staging big ski festivals. Through March and April, the longer days, spring sunshine and deep snowpack bring about a relaxed atmosphere on the slopes and in resort so that music and off-slope fun can take their place next to the snowsports.
It seems there are ever more music festivals to test out, and while those chosen here are among the biggest, loudest and most established, if you’re heading to a leading resort anywhere in spring, it’s likely there’ll be some music-themed event to head to.
They’re not all rock, pop and hip-hop either – look out for jazz, classical, unplugged and most other kinds of music festivals too.
In years gone by, you could do a month-long festival crawl if you wanted (and had the time and money of course), going around the mountains from one to the next, but in 2016 a few are going head-to-head on dates so you may have to choose …
When: 12–17 March
Where: Bansko, Bulgaria
Headliners: Âme, Nina Kraviz, Congo Natty and M J Cole
With 120 acts, playing 30 parties over six days, Horizon describes itself as “the ultimate party in the snow”. Musically it delivers a programme to suit many and varied tastes, catering for lovers of house, techno, drum and bass, grime, funk, garage, soul and hip-hop. New for 2016 are the Hot Spa Cinema, Geothermal Pool Raves, Spas, Music Production Lab and The Hotel House Party. A variety of packages are available, and this being Bulgaria, prices are typically low.
ROCK THE PISTES
When: 13–19 March
Where: Portes du Soleil (e.g. Champéry, Avoriaz, Morzine, Les Gets, Châtel)
Headliners: Gotthard, Two Door Cinema Club, Izia, Hubert-Felix Thiefaine, Deluxe
The Rock The Pistes concept is that free concerts are staged on temporary stages around the huge 650km of the Portes du Soleil ski area during the day and accessible only on skis (they’re free so long as you have a lift pass to get to them). Then there are après-ski concerts in the resorts to carry on the fun afterwards. Last year, Rock The Pistes claimed 20,000 festival-goers, all on skis, and there were more than 25 fringe concerts besides the big shows.
When: 12–19 March
Where: Avoriaz, France
Headliners: Sigma, Blonde, Grandmaster Flash
Snowboxx is a festival that doesn’t stay long in one resort, and this year it’s heading to Avoriaz. While the Rock The Pistes festival is getting the Portes du Soleil pistes buzzing, Snowboxx will be bringing an expected 4,000 people to their festival-within-a-festival. To hold the massive après-ski electro events, Avoriaz will be building a giant box in the middle of the old mountain chalets. This festival hub will be complemented by stages around the car-free centre, providing different kinds of music around the resort every evening.
INNOVATION IN THE SNOW
When: 17th to 19th March 2016
Where: Pas de la Casa, Andorra
Headlining: DJ Hype, Dillinja, Grooverider, SASASAS, The Prototypes, Alpha, Nicky Blackmarket, Harry Shotta, Evil B
A new three day music festival has been announced for the party resort of Pas de la Casa in Andorra this season. ‘Innovation in the Snow’ is the latest offering by the DnB events company Innovation. Festival pre-parties will run between 5pm – 9pm in a dedicated ski bar and restaurant each evening with the main event taking place in a special Igloo Dome.
Innovation are happy to welcome non-skiers as well as skiers and boarders and suggest activities such as a daytime paintball tournament in the snow, snowmobiling, dog sledding or ice-driving instead. Package options include 3 night’s accommodation + 2 day lift pass + 2 day ski hire + airport transfers + 3 night festival entry from£240 or a non-ski version from £190
When: 2 April
Where: Jungfrau (Grindelwald/Wengen), Switzerland
Headliners: Fanta 4
After staging a big coup with a gig by Deep Purple a year ago, this time the Jungfrau region will host German hip-hop mega stars Fanta 4 at “the country’s biggest winter music event”. This event, 2,000m above sea level in Kleine Scheidegg, can only be reached by a journey up the spectacular mountain railway, and from the venue there are spectacular views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Approximately 9,000 people will attend the concert, tickets for which are CHF125 (£88), and it usually quickly sells out.
When: 3– 10 April
Where: Laax, Switzerland
Headliners: Jenny Jones, James Woods, Katie Summerhayes, Billy Morgan, Jamie Nicholls
Following a brief and unconvincing trial separation, the BRITS (or to give it its full title: “the British Snowboard and Freeski Championships”) will be rekindling its love affair with Laax, Switzerland, with the world’s largest halfpipe and four dedicated snowparks, for a week of championship snowsports and a celebration of its flourishing freestyle scene. During the week, riders (seasoned pros, budding amateurs and first-timers) have the chance to compete or spectate at the British Halfpipe, Slopestyle and Snowboard/Skicross Championships, plus the more relaxed Bangers and Cash Rail Jam.
When: 4–9 April
Where: Mayrhofen, Austrian Tirol
Headliners: The Prodigy, Jungle, Netsky, Bastille, Craig David, Mark Ronson (DJ)
The self-styled “world’s No. 1 music festival on snow” is certainly one of the biggest and longest established and has even spawned a pre-festival “Snowbombing Party Series” which tours some of the UK and Europe’s leading nightspots. During the festival itself, gigs are staged in Mayrhofen’s plethora of bars and clubs as well as at specially created locations on the mountains and in the forest. Snowbombing offers accommodation packages ranging from £339 (plus booking fee) for five nights’ accommodation and festival wristband.
TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN
When: 30 April
Where: Ischgl, Austrian Tirol
Headliners: To Be Confirmed
Ischgl’s Top of the Mountain concert is staged to mark the final weekend of the resort’s five-month-long season (which began this year with a gig by the Beach Boys at the end of November). They hadn’t announced who will headline as we went to press, but they always get one of the world’s biggest stars to perform – Kylie, Elton John, Robbie Williams, Rihanna and many others have each been the main act over the years.