Travel

Dispatches’ list of best winter trips (updated): Mile-high music, sunny beaches and lots of skiing

(Editor’s note: This post on winter trips is updated regularly when new events are announced. We’re starting with ski festivals across Europe.)

Dear expats: If you think summers in Europe are packed with concerts, festivals and mega-events, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

With alps and beaches, Europe really comes into its own during the winter. And right now, with most of Europe booming, there simply aren’t enough great parties, concerts and ski resorts to accommodate demand. Seriously.

Still, there’s soooo much going on … enough to take you all the way through spring without a dull moment. Concerts on stages in the middle of alps in places like the legendary Les Portes du Soiles on the France/Switzerland border. Parties in swanky ski resorts. Music. Skiing. Partying. More skiing and music, with a little beach action thrown in.

We’ll have lots more in the next few weeks because a lot of events haven’t announced firm dates.

So stay tuned as we update this list with confirmed dates. And we’ve learned our lesson … next year, we’ll post this in the middle of the summer.

MARCH

White Pearl Mountain Days

22 March thru 31 March

Skicircus Saalbach-Hinterglemm/Leogang, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria,

This one really came out of nowhere. But hey, it’s FREE! Sort of.

Obviously, you have to pay for lodging and skiing. But the music and vibes are free, and the theme is “learn to live for today.” We’re down with that.

This is the ninth year (we think) for White Pearl Mountain Days, two weeks scheduled for late in the ski season and dedicated to music, sun and partying at Saalbach, one of Austria’s largest ski resorts amid a truly spectacular section of the Alps.

There are 113 slopes and 70 lifts, health and fitness programs such as mountain yoga or guided snowshoe hikes and lots of high-end cafes and restaurants. And of course, beautiful people.

(This year is sponsored by Belvedere Vodka, VISA and Moët & Chandon, so this is not the ski-bum crowd.)

White Pearl Mountain Days is near Kitzbuhel, east of Innsbruck, and just south of Munich. So fairly easy to get to.

Book your table here.

Snowboxx

16 thru 23 March

Avoriaz, France

We’re telling you about Snowboxx two months early because in its nine-year history, guess what … this event has sold out 10 times in 10 years.

This is yet another party-in-the-Alps festival, this one amid France’s largest ski area, just across the border from Geneva.

If anything differentiates Snowboxx from the rest it’s that is has had more big-name acts along with Ibiza acts. This year’s acts include Netsky, Rudimental and Denis Sulta.

And ski lessons for newbies, which we think is a great idea. So, yeah, this festival has it together.

Snowboxx is really a huge marketing machine. There’s even an installment scheme, with fans putting down a  150 pounds, then paying off their balances as the date grows closer.

The experience starts at 399 pounds including lift tickets and the festival.

You can get passes here.

The Ski Week

16 March thru 23 March

Obertauern, Austria

This is one of the increasingly popular one-price events, with accommodations, lift tickets, events and even a guide, for one low, low price. Well, not all that low starting at about 1,600 euros, which is a pretty good deal considering this at a chi-chi Austrian ski resorts.

This is one of two ski weeks, with the other at Snowmass in Aspen.

You can get tickets here.

Rock the Pistes

17 March thru 23 March

French/Swiss border

Let’s say you don’t like EDM/trance all that much. At the same time and close to the same place as Snowboxx, there’s the rock-oriented Rock the Pistes nearby, one of the largest music festivals in the Alps.

Thirty-thousand people. Skiing. Multiple stages of performances. And many of the performances are by – get this – actual live musicians. Though we wonder how you play a guitar in zero-degree weather.

This year, French singer Zaho de Sagazan (“Tristesse”), the Inspector Cluzo (“We the People of the Soil”) and others.

And the craziest thing … they throw the music in for free if you buy the lift tickets/ski passes. You can get packages here starting at 64 euros. That’s right … 64 euros, not 600 euros.

Or, you can pay extra for VIP passes here that can include private skiing and helicopter tours … and anything else you can dream up.

Ultra Music Festival

22 thru 24 March

Miami

Increasingly the celebrity destination for movie stars, tech billionaires and NBA players, Miami is in the party mode year-round. One of the highlights is Ultra, which has the biggest Names in EDM year after year.

For 2024, it’s a crazy lineup that includes everyone from Adriatique to ZedsDed. That includes Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Nina Kraviz, Tïesto, Martin Garrix and every top DJ.

Seeing how it’s Miami, the VIP tickets go first. You can get your not-a-VIP tickets here starting at $299 Yankee Dollars. No euros ….

APRIL

Hibernation Festival

21 March thru 24 March

Pas de la Casa, Andorra

Been looking for an excuse to go to Andorra, the one place we never seem to be able to put on our “Countries Visited” list? Here it is ….

Hibernation used to market itself as “the most daring artists of the current electronic scene in a breathtaking environment.” Okay, it’s an EDM festival in the middle of some mountains. Nothing all that different than a hundred other winter music-and-skiing weekend.

Except it’s in – that’s right – Andorra. The Grandvalira Ski Resort, to be exact, which bills itself as the “second-largest ski area in Southern Europe.”

The lineup for 2024 is pretty cool including I Hate Models, Maceo Plex, Antigone and Andres Campo.

Tickets start at 30 euros, and you can get them here.

Snowbombing Festival

8 thru 13 April

Mayrhofen, Austria

This year Snowbombing is shifting away from live acts such as Rag’n’Bone toward EDM/House/ bass&drum with Chroma as well as DJs.

There’s snowboarding, Fatboy Slim aaaaand DJs including Rudimental and Horse Meat Disco. Igloo raves, pool parties, street parties and yoga. All at 9,000 feet at a luxury Tyrolian alpine resort.

Yeah, that could be fun ….

This is another expensive week, with Accommodation + Festival Ticket packages from 439 pounds. You can book here.

Zermatt Unplugged

9 thru 13 April

Zermatt, Switzerland

This is a big-name event in a Tier One ski town, so probably not for the budget travelers. Any event sponsored over the years by Hublot, the watchmaker that makes $250,000 watches for LaBron James, and investment firms is going to be pretty plush. And is it so wrong for rich folks to only want a mellow moment (away from the EDM) at unplugged events with a view of the Matterhorn?

Acts this year include Brits James Arthur, Birdy and Blanco White and Australians Angus & Julia Stone. Oh, and Grammy winning American singer Gregory Porter.

Tickets start at 50 Swiss francs plus 92 Swiss francs per top performance and go to, like, a LOT for the VIP packages with hotels.

You can get them here.

Caprices Festival

29 thru 31 March and 5 thru 7 April

Crans-Montana, Switzerland

Another rave on the slopes in Switzerland, this one split into two weekends. What makes Caprices Festival different is, it’s a bit more restrained, with common-sense limits.

This is the 20th year for a festival that drew 10,000 people to its original event! Caprices has evolved over the years from a lot of big-name live acts including Iggy Pop and Robert Plant to mostly EDM. And the genre has shifted from pop to House/Trance/EDM and DJs.

You can see the full lineup here.

Yes, there’s non-stop music. But there’s also a list of prohibited goods including drugs, weapons (duh) and even animals. Also, there’s a code of behavior and even a recommendation to use ear protection (distributed free of charge) because music levels can exceed 100db.

Tickets start at 55 Swiss francs and you can get them here.

Top of the Mountain Closing Concert

30 April

Ischgl, Austria

When you think of skiing in the Alps, you naturally think of The Blackeyed Peas and will.i.am. right? Well, how right you are because the Fergie-less Peas will be in concert, closing out the 2024 ski season in Austria.

In past years, major acts including Lenny Kravitz, Kylie Minogue and Kings of Leon have played this gig high in the Austrian Alps. So yeah, this is a big deal. Oddly, tickets come with your ski pass/lift ticket, or your lift ticket comes with the concert.

Whatever.

It’s 140 euros for adults, and you can get yours here.

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