Snowboxx took over Alpe d’Huez for a week of vibrant festivities. When I mean takeover, you couldn't look anywhere without being reminded that Snowboxx was in town. From colourful onsies on the slopes, to gondola cabins kitted out with karaoke systems, to parties spread between nearly 10 venues every day throughout the week. After 2 years of successful festivals in Vallnord, Andorra, Snowboxx moved on to larger pastures to Alpe d’Huez in France. This fine resort hosts 250 km of pistes and is already renowned for its lively nightlife, making this resort the perfect place to ski hard all day and party even harder by night. Read more about Alpe d’Huez here: 10 reasons Alpe d'Huez is a must-ski destination
Horse Meat Disco at Folie Douce. Photo: Gregory Ke
The Ibiza style, grand terrace après parties at the Folie Douce was definitely one of the highlights of the week for me. Even after 4 ski seasons and countless après shindigs, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. As 3 pm strikes, skiers and snowboarders flock to the 2500m high mountainside venue for a 2 hour session of dancing in your ski boots. Eton Messy and Horse Meat Disco headlined the 2 Snowboxx après sessions at the Folie Douce, with these huge DJ acts, the theatrical fun and stunning panoramic views blazed in sunshine, nothing else quite compares to this extraordinary party atmosphere. As it hits 5pm the mountain is evacuated as everyone takes the last run home to carry on the party in town.
Jungle headlining the main stage Other parties included a tropical tea party at L’Etalon Rum Bar, Sticky Banit at Zoo bar, Tom Misch at Smithys, pool party, Retro Rentals Disco at Taburle, plus so much more. With packages starting from just £229 pp it is a great budget choice for a week in the mountains, as well as the access to an outstanding week of partying and experiencing top music acts in the snow. This was such an epic week, the music was amazing, the town was buzzing and the crowds were smiling all week as everyone was having such a fantastic time. The festival sold out again in 2015, and I’m very excited to see what they have in store for 2016. The Snowboxx line up included Jungle, 2manydjs, Blonde, TCTS, Eton Messy, Horse Meat Disco, Tieks, Anushka and more.
Photo: Sam Neil
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Panoramic alpine views, flamboyant dancing, stunning sunshine, high mountain peaks, vibrant coloured flavoured rum, world class skiing, scrumptious fondues, late nights and a humongous list of activities off the piste, is just a small taste of what to expect on a ski holiday in Alpe d’Huez. Alpe d’Huez is one of our most popular ski holiday destinations. This all-round-resort boasts 250km of ski runs, 2 snow parks and 50km of cross country trails. The height of the resort and ski area means snow is guaranteed throughout the season and is a popular choice for late season holidays.As the UK’s largest independent ski travel agency we work with over 70 ski tour operators to offer you the widest range of ski holidays and find the perfect trip for you. Inghams is one of the largest operators we work with and invited Iglu Ski along on a trip to Alpe d’Huez for Snowboxx festival where we stayed at the popular Chalet Hotel Les Cimes.
With so much to do in resort, here are your 10 must-dos in this amazing ski town:
Last season the famous French après chain extended into Alpe d’Huez, to what may be my favourite location of all. Try to imagine dancers dressed in black feather wings, men in leather high heels, champagne showered down from an elevated DJ booth and a saxophonist prancing around on the bar as you purchase drinks. It’s like something out of a Baz Luhman film and an excellent way to way to get the party going. Après may have only started at 2, but by 2:15 there are already people dancing on the tables and making the most of their short time in this spectacular cosmos. In addition to the epic party that the Folie never fails to deliver, you go weak at the knees staring at the stunning views off the dance floor balcony.
Top left and bottom photo: Gregory Ke Photographie
Appropriately labelled as ‘The Best Fondue in the World,’ La Fondue En Folie was of course our first choice for dinner on the chalet staff’s night off. How good was it? Well, how often do you get to the bottom of a cheese fondue... Never? We polished off it all. And the meat fondue too. Plus we were still infatuated enough with cheese the next day to stomach a round of Croque Monsieurs at lunch. There is an extensive menu filled with various meat and cheese fondue options. The restaurant size is modest so booking early in the week is recommended.
La Fondue En Folie: When the tables are full, food is placed in hangers above!
Alpe d’huez is a glacial resort that offers high altitude skiing and some of the longest descents in the Alps. The 3330m Pic Blanc glacier summit is the start of the longest black run in Europe, Sarenne that has a 2220m descent over the 16 km piste. On a clear day you can spot the peaks of Mont Ventoux, Taillefer, Belledonne, Chartreuse, Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles d'Arves. As a high ski resort, snow conditions are great throughout the winter season and there is even skiing on the glacier during the summer months. Yes the skiing is fantastic up on the glacier, but what really took my breath away was the astounding vista. There are panoramic mountain views as far as the eye can see and the ocean of clouds make you feel like you are on top of the world.
Views from the peak of Pic Blanc
When you think of the perfect mountain eatery, what do you imagine? Large sun-soaked terrace overlooking the ski slopes, an extensive selection of your favourite alpine foods, and a large chilled beer in your hand? All the boxes get ticked at this lunch stop. Perfectly located at the first DMC stop, near the snow park and the green pistes, it is easy meet point and accessible for everyone, non-skiers and beginners included. The hefty menu has all the alpine favourites of cheese and meat combinations including croque monsieurs, tartiflette, burgers, pizzas and salads. The calzone and montagne croque monsieur (raclette cheese) were our top picks after an active morning ski.
The fantastic large sun terrace
Les Cimes is a great value hotel for this fantastic resort. The large accommodation is brilliantly situated less than 100m from the slopes, taking you to the Grande Sure chairlift and straight up to fantastic Signal pistes. Perfect if you are keen to get out on the slopes first thing. The south facing positioning means the sun terrace gets the sun in the afternoon and the front bedrooms have an incredible view of the alpine landscape.
A weeks stay on half board chalet catering basis starts from £503 pp which includes accommodation, transfers and flights. A six day lift pass costs £189 per adult (aged 13-64) when pre-booked through us and ski and boot hire costs from £105 per adult when pre-booked. View more information and ski deals at Chalet Hotel Les Cimes
Top - the amazing views at sunset from the front rooms. Below - the hotel exterior and large breakfast selection
Head to the Underground Bar for a brilliant night you will probably end up not remembering! The super friendly staff create a welcoming and fun atmosphere that is a favourite amongst the seasonaires in resort. If you are like me and prefer a cider over a beer, well great news, they have it on tap here! Most nights the owners band plays live music so expect to keep dancing into the small hours. Our other favourite night venues in Alpe d'Huez included Sphere bar, L'Etalon Rum bar and Igloo bar
Lots of different flavours of homemade rum at the pirate themed Etalon bar
If you like long lasting ski runs, there are 5 pistes in Alpe d’Huez that add up to an impressive 10 000m of height difference. L’Enversin d’Oz (2205m), La Villette (2035m), Oz en Oisans (2000m), Huez (1880m) and La Serenne (1830m). As much as I loved being at the peak of the glacier, my favourite ski runs were on the other side of the mountain at Signal and the ski runs down to Oz and Vaujany. If you are a fan of long ski runs then this is the side of the ski area is for you. Get first lifts up to Signal and enjoy the stunning, wide, corduroy pistes down to the TSD Le Villarais chairlift. This area is normally quiet first thing as the crowds head to the main ski lifts around the green slopes. For more lengthy slopes you can take the runs from 2100 at the first DMC stop or from 2050 at L’Alpette down to Oz en Oisians at 1350 or Montfrais, towards Vaujany, at 1650m.
Top of Signal
This wondrous festival turned Alpe d’Huez into a spectacular wonderland for an entire week. The popular ski resort is already known for its varied and vibrant nightlife, but Snowboxx came into town and took the party to the next level. At every moment of the day you had the opportunity to join in with the festivities, from a waterslide competition or disco dodgeball in the day; to Meat Horse Disco at Folie Douce for après on the mountain or an afternoon terrace party back in the town; to evening events including tropical tea parties, pool parties or joining the headliners 2 Many DJS, Eton Messy and Jungle at huge open air gigs. The possibilities were endless, but you were guaranteed to have an awesome time wherever you ended up. The festival crowd was fantastic fun; there was always a sea of fancy dress and smiles to get you in the mood to party, even if you are still brushing off the hangover from the night before. Snowboxx has now sold out for 3 years in a row, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the ski crowds in 2016.
Snowboxx festival 2015. Top - Fun at Folie Douce. Bottom - 2ManyDJs
Discover an unforgettable experience whilst on holiday in Alpe d’Huez and conquer the legendary 16km Sarenne by moonlight. This brilliant evening takes place every Wednesday which fits in perfectly with chalet staff night off. After taking up the last cable car at 4.30 pm to the peak of Pic Blanc you watch the sun set over the breath-taking panoramic view at 3330m whilst sipping on a vin chaud or hot chocolate. When nightfall’s the group is joined by qualified ski instructors and ski patrollers as you ski down the 16km piste by moonlight (and supplied headlights). The run takes about an hour to ski down and once you have reached the bottom you are rewarded with a 3 course mountain dinner at the Auberge de la Combe Haute. After a cheese filled evening you ski back to the village and a shuttle service is provided from 10:15pm to transport you back to resort. The excursion is subject to good snow cover and weather conditions. You must be a good skier or snowboarder to take part and you are advised to book early. Cost is approx 75 Euros. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
Panoramic views at the top of Sarenne
With every 6 day lift pass you can benefit from 1 entry to the swimming pool, ice rink and the sports centre. So after a day on the slopes you can head to the outdoor pool for a relaxing afternoon or if you fancy just a half day on the mountain, you can head into town for lunch and a skate on the ice rink, all for free!
This is what’s great about Alpe d’Huez, it’s so much more than just a ski resort. There are plenty of ‘off-piste’ activities to keep any children or adults occupied if their ski legs are feeling tired. Other entertainment includes: Dog sledding, snow mobiling, paradliding, helicopter rides and ice driving.
Snowboxx festival, is without a doubt, been the highlight of this ski season. It was the best fun to experience a music festival in a ski resort whilst surrounded by the iconic views of Alpe d'Huez. March is a perfect time to visit this stunning ski resorts as you get to enjoy the brilliant spring skiing conditions, and the snow was still good enough to make it to the end of Sarenne! View more photos from this ski trip.
View ski holidays in Alpe d'Huez
For more information on Alpe d’Huez Grande Domaine Ski please visit www.alpedhuez-granddomaine-ski.fr
For more information on Snowboxx visit www.snowboxx.com
There's plenty to look forward to this coming 2014/15 winter season, whether you’re staying put in the UK or taking a holiday to the mountains. If you’re eager to swap the summer sun for snowy pistes, then start your countdown now and get planning your next adventure.
Here’s a look at what’s to come…
We used to get festival blues when they all finished for the summer, but now we don’t have to. The popular festival Ibiza Rocks heads to the mountains each year bringing a host of DJ’s and live bands with it. Get your party on and enjoy live music, plenty of snow and wild après. We can’t wait!
Spring 2015 will welcome another year of this well-loved comedy festival, which last year saw comedians such as John Bishop and Al Murray perform. From live stand up to musical parodies, you’ll always find plenty to keep you entertained in-between your time spent out on the pistes. Plus, there’ll also be beer. Lots of beer!
This festival, held in Mayrhofen, Austria, showcases a mixture of new emerging talent and well-established artists. There are also ski and snowboard lessons on offer, plus contests and of course – optimum opportunity for après fun times. To give you a taste of what to expect, last year’s line-up featured The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, DJ Yoda and Foxes.
January 2015 will see another year of the X Games in Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, with contests in skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile. Previous years of the games have seen our very own Jenny Jones claim gold three times (yes Jenny!). With coverage provided by ESPN, you can enjoy the all the action from the comfort of your sofa.
This December, Breckenridge will play host to Dew Tour to celebrate its tenth anniversary. There’ll be athlete meet and greets, live music, plus snowboard and ski contests in superpipe, slopestyle and streetstyle. Expect to see the likes of Torah Bright, Sage Kotsenburg, Rowan Cheshire, Jenny Jones and Aimee Fuller compete.
The Freeride World Tour stops at various resorts across Europe and North America, offering top skiers and snowboarder the chance to compete for the World Champion title. If you’re on holiday at the time, be sure to stop by at one of the events and check it out – some of the resorts visited along the way are Chamonix, Verbier and Mammoth Mountain.
The 2014/15 season will see the opening of a new 4 Trident Club Med hotel in Val Thorens – Val Thorens Sensations. The hotel is all-inclusive (including ski & snowboard lessons) and is due to open in December 2014. With a fantastic ski-in ski-out position and a display of exceptional mountain views through its huge panoramic windows, the hotel also features a new innovation - Wi-Fi on the slopes! If you’re a Club Med fan, we recommend you try this one out.
Read more about Val Thorens Sensations here.
Opening on the 5th July 2014, the ‘For Friends Hotel’ is situated in Mösern, Austria. The hotel offers stunning views across the surrounding mountains and valleys and is situated 20km from Innsbruck. The hotel will feature an infinity pool, a spa which offers sound therapy and the chance to rent the luxurious For Friends Roof Top Suite.
Located in Zell am Zee, Austria the Mountain Lake Resort will offer 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments and penthouses, each boasting their own mix of traditional Alpine design mixed with a contemporary twist. Keep cosy and warm with comforting underfloor heating plus a steam room and sauna for winding down after a long day. The hotel also features floor to ceiling windows so you can really make the most of the surrounding mountain scenery.
Our featured offer for Mountain Lake Resort.
With over 60 lift constructions under way in Europe and North America, lift systems look to be improved in many resorts next season. Many of these new builds will be effectively upgrading the current lift systems and there will also be a few brand new ones to look forward too as well. In Scheffau, Austria one of the most expensive chairlifts in the world is currently under construction. The chairlift will hold 8 people and will featured cosy heated seats, weather hoods, foot rests and a conveyor belt system for ease of entry.
At the end of July 2014, the 1456m high Jakobskreuz viewing platform will open in plenty of time for the winter season. It will feature five viewing areas which offer displays of the beautiful surrounding mountain landscapes and will be the setting for various lectures, seminars and workshops.
The world’s longest suspension bridge for pedestrians will open in Reutte, Austria later this year. The Highline 179 will rise 110m from ground level and is certainly not for the faint of heart! If you’re looking to take a little break from the day’s skiing or boarding, then certainly give this a try.
You don’t have to go to the mountains to enjoy snow-related events. From the 30th October – 2rd November 2014 the Ski and Snowboard Show will take place in Earls Court, London. Here you’ll find a huge range of activities and stalls; ski and snowboard taster lessons, an ice rink, curling, tubing, après activities, an Austrian themed stand and much, much more.
London will play host to another Freeze Festival this year (dates TBC), with live music, mountain drinks, comforting cuisine and snow-themed fun in Clapham Common. Last year saw live performances from DJ Fresh and Idris Elba as well as international ski and snowboard rail jams, film screenings and even a Christmas jumper world record attempt.
With the UK still feeling the hype from this year’s successful Winter Olympics, our engagement in snowsports has never been better. After Jenny Jones’ bronze medal win, snowdomes and dry slopes were full to the brim, regularly finding themselves fully booked and even running out of rental equipment. The Go Ski Go Board campaign was launched alongside the Olympics to encourage more people to give snowsports a try. The campaign is set to run for the next four years, meaning that there are plenty of ongoing opportunities on offer for pre-holiday lessons, taster sessions and improvers courses at reduced prices. This is an exciting time to get involved with UK snowsports – you can even start your season early and get some practice in before the first resorts open their doors.
What’s more, if you’re serious about skiing or boarding, there are more and more opportunities cropping up to apply for sponsored positions at your local snowdome. Olympian, Rowan Cheshire, started off as a member of the Chill Factore freestyle club in Manchester and fellow Olympians Aimee Fuller, Ed Drake and Jamie Nicholls are all members of The Snow Centre’s pro club in Hemel Hempstead.
One of our favourite things about the winter is the festive season and what better way to get that festive feeling than spending it in a ski resort surrounded by heaps of snow. With the disappointing lack of snow in the UK this year, at least we know we’ll get our snow fix out in the mountains. With local parades, activities for kids, sleigh rides, Carol concerts and festive food and drink, you’ll be feeling Christmassy in no time. New Year ’s Eve also plays host to some spectacular firework displays at most resorts, as well as some fantastic parties to see in the New Year.
Visit the Canadian resort of Whistler for the chance to experience a range of exciting festive activities for both families and adults alike. Watch athletes perform tricks through hoops of fire, sip a hot chocolate (or something a little stronger) around the bonfire or don your fancy dress for the Dress Like Santa Day.
See 2015 in with a bang at the Tignes annual Fire Mix Party featuring live music, DJ’s and lots of outdoor partying. Grab your friends, wrap up warm and start 2015 off right. What’s more, there’s nothing more refreshing than a day out on the mountain to settle that sore head…
Drink mulled wine, listen to carols, browse the Christmas markets and get yourself in the Christmas mood this year. With guaranteed snow (unlike here in the UK!) and plenty of beautiful seasonal lights, we couldn’t really think of a more magical way to spend the festive period.
The end of the season is almost here, meaning closing parties and events aplenty throughout the majority of resorts. This brings the chance to indulge in plenty of last minute treats you’ve come to associate with snowy mountain holidays – glühwein, fondue, ski shots! There’s also been some pretty amazing snowfall for this time of year, meaning that the later opening resorts will be able to offer good conditions well into May. If you’re keen to try out a bit of last minute spring skiing, or even a bit of summer glacier skiing, you can see our blog on top late-opening resorts here. If you won't be heading out to the mountains again until next season then think of this as a list of suggestions for things to do in the 2014/15 season - many of the activities mentioned below will repeat again next year and of course, alpine food and drink will always be available!
Quite possibly the most famous chain of bars on the après scene and the host of some of the best end of season parties in Europe. The resorts of Val d’Isere, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez are still open, meaning you still have a chance to experience some of the fantastic music, food, drink and partying on offer.
There are a handful of festivals and closing events happening between the end of this month and the beginning of May. What a better way to add to your mountain experience than by watching exhilarating contests, taking part in fun events and dancing until you drop.
Here are our top suggestions:
Combining Harley rides with spring skiing and plenty of après action. Enjoy the stunning mountain views on a series of unforgettable tours, followed by plenty of partying.
An end of season celebration featuring the White Lines Rail Jam, a treasure hunt, pub quizzes, the Monster Energy party and more!
Celebrate the end of season with a dance contest, DJ’s, fancy dress and plenty of food and drink, all while surrounded by the beautiful Swiss mountains.
The Dutch head to France for a week of après ski parties, lunch time concerts, sunshine and snow, all in celebration of their Queen’s anniversary. On Sunday 27th April, there’ll also be the chance to test next season’s equipment at the Test & Ride Center.
Watch the Monster riders take part in the Hip Jam contest over the course of two days, followed by a huge after party on the last evening. Plus, on May 3rd it’s also the Bikinis for Breast Cancer event where all ladies are invited to ski or snowboard down the course in bikinis and ski pants to raise money.
Prepare yourself for next season and book yourself a last minute ski or snowboard lesson. While the resorts are quiet and the prices cheaper, you might as well make the most of the empty pistes!
Val d’Isere are offering some late ski clinics between the 28th April and the 2nd May. The sessions are spread across five half days and are aimed at skiers who are comfortable with black and red ski runs.
Many glaciers offer skiing throughout July, giving you the perfect combination of hot sunshine and snowy mountain scenery. What’s more, you can also try out other activities such as mountain biking, white water rafting and rock climbing in between skiing.
Between the 5th and the 7th July, Les Deux Alpes will play host to Kumi Yama, a Japanese event to kick off the summer season. Featuring slopestyle jams and photo contests set to the backdrop of beautiful snowy mountains and warm summer sun.
If you haven’t samples some of the food or drink below, then do it now! And if you’re already a seasoned connoisseur of mountain cuisine, then now’s your time to indulge in more before it’s too late. No need to worry about ruining that summer beach body – skiing and snowboarding are great forms of exercise and you’ll burn off more calories than you might think.
Also, if you want to drool over pictures of delicious Tartiflette, then visit our Tartiflette Club page. You can join our club by tagging your Tartiflette photos on Twitter with the hashtag #tartiflette.
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"Just home from Christmas in Val d'Isere... this was the best ski holiday I have ever been on. Val is stunning, the hotel fabulous, staff sensational and skiing out of this world. We booked through Iglu. They were fantastic. Peter had great ski knowledge, offered advice and went the extra mile. " - Pamela (Dec 2015)