Lifestyle & Culture

New for 2020: Dispatches’ list of the best in ski/music festivals in Europe

This is the time of year we’re pondering the options for winter ski/music festivals in Switzerland, France and Austria … and really the season is already underway with Rise, though you can still get tickets for Snowattack.

These ski/music festivals are selling out five months out, so our advice – don’t delay if you really want to go. Just dropping in really isn’t an option these days as some events require you to stay in their resorts.

As we’ve noted before, there are more and more events every year including the debut of Tomorrowland Winter and Fresh Mountain last winter. March is really intense, with a festival every week.

This list will be updated as we take you into May, then segue to our Spring Break 2020 list. This year, we’ll work harder at posting events a few months out to give you time to plan … and save, because it ain’t cheap booking a flight, hotels, tickets and meals.

Also see our expat-curated list of the best ski resorts in Europe.

• January

Kitzbühel, Austria – Double Dutch Ski & Music Festival: This is the second year for this festival and the first time on our list. DDS&MF runs 9 thru 12 January, so just enough time left to secure a pass.

If you’re looking to bask in the warm glow of top name DJs and acts, this ain’t the festival. Double Dutch Ski & Music Festival puts the emphasis on outdoor activities ranging from FAT bikes in the snow to ski safaris to off-piste skiing while testing ski equipment.

Yes, there are some local bands and DJs, but this is all about extreme winter sports.

Tickets start at 29.95 euros and you can get yours here. That low, low price, of course, doesn’t include skiing and other activities.

Les Orres (Deux Alpes), France – Snowattack: This ski/snowboard/music festival is one of the first of the season and one of the longer ones, running 25 January through 1 February. Like most on this list, this is more about the skiing in an area with 105 kilometers of runs and 19 lifts at almost 2,700 meters.

There are 25 DJs/acts including Animal Cannibals from Budapest. No, we never heard of them either, but we like the name. This event is put on by the same group who does Beachattack in Croatia.

Packages start at 359 euros and you can get yours here.

• March

Alpe d’Huez, France – Tomorrowland Winter: Tomorrowland organizers made a huge splash with its 2019 debut, renting out the entire ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, France last March. And this one is all about the music.

There was this whole weird Buddhist motif, but huge names – mostly top Dutch DJs including Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Kölsch and Martin Garrix as well as non-Dutch veterans such as Steve Aöki.

Well, Tomorrowland Winter is back for 2020 with those guys and more, including Charlotte de Witte, Veni Vici and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. The dates are 14 through 21 March.

Oh, yeah … there’s skiing. Alpe d’Huez has 250 kilometers of slopes for all levels.

Tomorrowland, the summer festival, started out 15 years ago in Nowheresville, Belgium (Boom, an hour from our Dispatches global HQ) and has turned into a phenom, attracting first 50,000, then 100,000 then 200,000 people, with waiting lists in recent years in the millions!

Every major EDM DJ and act including Avicii, Faithless, Hardwell, Nina Kraviz, Swedish House Mafia, Carl Cox, David Guetta, Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto and Martin Garrix have come.

One-day packages start at 175 euros and you can get yours here.

A note: For whatever reason (money?), organizers require you to stay at their lodging in the Grand Domaine Ski area to get access to the festival.

Obertauern, Austria – The Ski Week: This is partially sold out for 2020, though they’ve added a week, now running from 14 thru 28 March.

The Ski Week is one of the increasingly popular one-price Beautiful People events, with accommodations, lift tickets, events and even a guide, for one low, low price. Well, not all that low starting at about 1,050 euros, which is a pretty good deal all in all.

This is one of several ski weeks at chi-chi settings around the world including Canada, Japan and the United States.

You can get your ticket here.

Avoriaz, France/Portes du Soleil on the France/Switzerland border – Rock the Pistes: This is one of the big ones of the season – two countries, 30,000 people, five live concerts and more than 30 après-ski concerts in the Portes du Soleil resorts.

For 2020, the 10th edition of Rock the Pistes runs from 15 thru 21 March high up in the Alps. And it is the complete package, with an incredible setting atop a mountain, surrounded by alpine vistas.

Skiing? Check. Live music on multiple stages? Check. Partying with internationals? Check. And all pretty much going on at the same time.

Tickets/lift passes start at 57 euros per day and you can get yours here.

Orcières, France – Fresh Mountain FestivalLike Tomorrowland Winter, Fresh Mountain debuted last year. It, too, is back, brought to you by the same company that does Fresh Island Festival in Croatia.

Fresh Mountain, from 21 thru 28 March is billed as the first urban/hip-hop festival on snow. Filling a giant void we didn’t even know existed. We sort of lost touch with hip-hop when Tupac brought it back riding around Vegas with Suge Knight in ’96, but here’s the full lineup.

Fresh Mountain Festival will have four “party arenas” spread across the French resort of Les Orres, in the French Alps equidistant between Nice and Grenoble. Tickets start at 80 euros for three-day tickets for the music, and 100 euros for lift tickets. You can get tickets here.

The Orcières ski area reachs 2,700 meters, and there are 51 slopes including green, blue, red and black, one boarder-skier crossing, a downhill slope and a slalom course.

Passes start at 190 euros.

You have to sign up to find out the current ticket prices and you can do that here.

Avoriaz, France – Snowboxx: Snowboxx has revealed the full line-up for its 2020 edition as it returns to the Avoriaz 21 thru 28 March with headliners Andy C, Dennis Sulta, Annie Mac, DJ EZ and special guests The Sugarhill Gang confirmed.

Which – oh, my GOD! – takes us back. Quick, what’s the first rap song? Look it up …

The lineup is pretty good this, year, but the skiing is world-class in the Les Portes Du Soleil region which boasts the largest connected ski area in the world. 

The resort is vehicle-free, so party people can ski in and out of their chalets to the nearest lift, walk to any of the festival stages … Snowboxx’s open-air main stage is walking distance from the festival’s accommodation.

You can see the full lineup here.

Tickets start at about 239 pounds.

Saalbach-Hintergelemm, Austria – White Pearl Mountain Days: This is a freebie (sort of), but you won’t be partying to Martin Garrix here. In fact, WPMD hasn’t posted its 2020 lineup other than to say “international DJs.”

TwentyTwenty – from 20 March to 5 April – is the sixth year 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.

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.” And if you really want live for today and go to the White Pearl Mountain VIP lodge, get ready to fork out 399 euros. (Includes champagne and a shuttle service.)

There are 113 slopes and 70 lifts. Lots of high-end cafes and restaurants. And, of course, beautiful people. And wherever there are beautiful people, there are fitness events and what-have-you. (This is sponsored by Hublot, Mercedes-Benz 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.

Chamonix – Chamonix Unlimited Festival: In a fabled ski resort in the shadow of Europe’s tallest mountain, Chamonix Unlimited Festival – 31 March thru 5 April – is about more than views. It typically has one of the better lineups of underground house and techno celebrity artists.

For TwentyTwenty, names include Âme, Ben Klock, Chris Liebing, Maceo Plex, Nina Kraviz, Richie Hawtin and Tale of Us. But there are a lot of new-on-the-scenes including Carlota from Ibiza and kids from France and Italy.

Ticket prices are based on whether you want to ski, with “pedestrian tickets” starting at 38 euros. Then, it gets really complicated, with five categories and multiple access choices for access to the music, all of which you can see here.

• April

Grandvalira, Andorra – Festival Hibernation: We heard about Hibernation a couple of years ago, then we missed it last year. This year, Hibernation is back on our list. Techno, house, and skiing in the Pyrenees of Andorra.

For 2020, Hibernation is 3 to 5 April.

This festival is at Grandvalira, a resort 2000 meters in the mountains (and the largest in Pyrenees), so there should be plenty of snow. And because this is in the Pyrenees, not Switzerland, this is a lot more affordable experience.

Weirdly, at this late date, they still haven’t posted the 2020 lineup. Last year featured Berlin regulars including Âme and Len Faki as well as Arman from Toronto and Ukraine’s Nastia.

Tickets start at 25 euros and you can get yours here.

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