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 email@example.com 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
Skiing in March and April is our favourite time of the ski season. Days get longer and temperatures start to warm up so you can relish in the brilliant ski conditions in the morning then hit the bars in the afternoon and soak up après in the sun on a mountain top terrace. End of season skiing is a popular option for skiers and snowboarders as there is more availability in favoured accommodations and families can enjoy a cheaper ski holiday in the Easter break compared to the high prices at Christmas and half term. Here are our top 5 reasons why we love spring skiing:
There’s nothing better than carving up the mountain with the sun beating down on your back. You don’t have to cart around lots of layers, you can sunbathe in between ski runs and you’ll have that special code worn only by fellow skiers and boarders – a cracking goggle tan so that everyone knows you’ve just returned fresh from the slopes.
More sunshine = longer days = lifts are open longer = more time out in the snow! Do we need to say any more?
As the slopes get emptier, the prices get cheaper, meaning that a last minute ski holiday is a great way to save the pennies. You'll have a bigger choice of accommodation as chalets and ski in - ski out accommodation won't sell out quite so fast. If you’re looking to squeeze in your second holiday of the season without using up all of your budget, then now’s the time.
If you don't have the time to enjoy a full week on the slopes, there are a number of Weekend Ski Breaks available so you can squueze in that last ski adventure of the season.
Take a look at Last Minute Ski Deals
As the spring months draw nearer, the slopes become quieter and quieter. Airport transfers become much smoother and faster and there are much smaller queues for chairlifts, lunch stops and bars. You’ll have more time to enjoy the breathtaking mountain views, rather than rushing to be first on the lifts.
You'll find that there's much more space on the pistes and if you are lucky enough to enjoy a late season powder day, you’ll be able to ski more fresh laps.
Spring is also a great time to bring along the kids and those who are just learning so they can focus more on their riding and less on trying to dodge others!
Experience some top après as resort bars aim to drink dry the last of their stock, ready to close down for the summer. You’ll find plenty of closing celebrations at just about every resort with live music, BBQ’s and of course, snow – a perfect combination!
The end of season also brings along a lot of festivals, such as Snowbombing, Snowboxx and Zermatt Unplugged.
Snowboxx festival at Folie Douce, Alpe d'Huez
View Ski Holidays in April | Ski Next Weekend | View Snow Reports
Andorra is a hidden gem in the skiing world and is often overlooked when choosing a ski destination. Located between France and Spain, the Andorran ski resorts have just as good slopes as the French Alps but without the lift queues and ridiculous bar tabs. In March 2014 I booked a last minute ski holiday to Soldeu in Andorra. Like many skiers and snowboarders, I had never thought much about skiing the Pyrenees when we have the wealth of popular French and Austrian resorts at our fingertips.
My curiosity got the best of me when a friend that was working in the resort kept on saying how amazing the skiing was and her stunning snowy photos filled up my Facebook feed for most of the winter. As my planned week off quickly approached I decided to discover a new ski destination, so I booked a last minute ski trip to Soldeu.
Going up in the TC8 gondola from Soldeu Andorra is a hidden gem between France and Spain, with just as good slopes as the French Alps but without the lift queues and ridiculous bar tabs. The resort of Soldeu is situated in the middle of 210km of pistes in Grandvalira with linked access to 5 other ski villages including Pas de la Casa.
As Andorra is tax free, alcohol prices in the shops are amazingly cheap. This is great if you are looking for a cheap ski holiday as apartment accommodation prices are very reasonable and you can eat and drink cheaply so you should have no problem with over spending on your trip.
On the slopes in Pas de la Casa
There are regular ski events throughout the season in Grandvalira from professional skiing events to freestyle competitions. Recent events include the Speed Skiing World Championships at the Grau Roig Riberal slope, Alpine Skiing European Cup on the Àgila slope in El Tarter and the Total Fight Master of Freestyle competition held at the El Tarter Snowpark. The Andorran ski resorts have had incredible snowfall the past few seasons, with snow levels even topping our favourite French ski resorts. During the winter 2014/15 ski season Pas de la Casa recieved 734 cm snowfall, Soldeu had 715 cm and Arinsal got 608 cm. Does it all sound too good to be true? Why don’t more holiday makers make Andorra their ski destination of choice?
Fresh snow and quiet slopes on a powder day in Soldeu
I didn’t believe it until I experienced it myself and I had one of my favourite ski weeks ever. I was extremely lucky and encountered a perfect week of snow conditions whilst staying in Soldeu. For the first 3 days I woke up to nearly a foot of fresh snow everyday so I was able to make full use of my new Nitro powder snowboard, and then for the second half of the week we had beautiful bluebird days. I couldn’t have prayed to the snow gods for a more superb ski holiday.
To start your week off there are plenty of blue runs around the Soldeu and El Tarter ski area allowing you to easily warm up your ski legs before venturing on to any intermediate or advanced pistes. Each of the villages are well linked with hardly any need for traversing which is great for snowboarders.
Fantastic wide pistes with stunning views As you progress through the week head over to Grau Roig and Pas De La Casa for a superior choice of wider and longer blue and red runs. The black and red runs on the face in Soldeu are fantastic and are easily accessed straight from the gondola or the TSD 6 man chairlift. For the freestylers, the snowpark at El Tarter is amazing and quick to get to from Soldeu. There is everything you need from fun features to huge kickers for all levels to enjoy.
Mountain restaurant stops in El Tarter
There is no lack of après and nightlife in Soldeu town. If you like a late night or two, this is a resort for you! Fat Alberts is a favourite and where you will end up if it ends up being a big night out. With live music and themed nights throughout the week, it is a popular spot for holiday makers and seasonaires.
The Aspen in the middle of town is one of the most popular bars. The bar staff are awesome, there is a huge choice of drinks, plus there’s also pool tables upstairs and you can watch popular sports events here. The Irish bar, The Harp, is a top bar to hit for après and is often filled with the ski instructors as they finish their day of work. It is the perfect place to get the shots in after a day on the slopes and have some banter with the bar staff.
If you are looking for a late night venue to end your bar crawl, head to Pussycat that is open till 5am!
The end of an amazing week in Soldeu
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Words and photos by Krystelle
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