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WHERE TO SKI THIS XMAS - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Wednesday December 5, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

It's not too late to book a festive trip with all the fresh snow falling. This could be the year to head to the Alps at Xmas.

The weather hasn't exactly behaved in many resorts in the build up to the season.

Until now.

A huge storm is hitting many parts of the Alps and there is more to come this week.

So, if all the snow is putting you in the mood for Xmas and you are thinking about a festive trip to the mountains what are the options?

We are now firmly of the view that 2018 is a good year to celebrate Christmas on the slopes, and that's not always something we recommend.

One word of warning: it can quickly turn mild or rainy in the Alps in December, so it's always best to keep an eye on the forecast or go for a high resort or one that's already got a good base.

With that caveat, we've come up with a few ideas for you below, and not just the obvious ones.

Do also keep a lookout for the best bargains on our constantly updated PlanetSKI Deals Club page:


For real Christmas atmosphere and some serious partying to go with your snowsports, head to Austria.

Some of the best Christmas markets take place in the Tirol in the build up to the the big day:


It has such a good snow record that it's usually the first non-glacier resort to open.

It's a good choice for families, beginners and timid intermediates who return time after time.

ObergurglObergurgl at the end of November - photo resort















The ultimate party town.

Its logo includes the phrase 'Relax, if you can...', which says it all.

It has a typical Tirolean vibe with very lively après ski and nightlife in bars and clubs.

IschglIschgl in January - photo resort













It also a lot of high slopes with reliable snow, lots of snowmaking and fast lifts.

There are many great runs for intermediates and the ski area is linked to Samnaun in Switzerland.

St Anton

Another Austrian party town and one that's popular with a younger snowsports crowd.

It has a lot of terrain for advanced skiers and snowboarders.

It is part of the large lift-linked Arlberg ski area (305 km) that includes upmarket Lech-Zurs, St Christoph, Zug, Stuben & Warth-Schrocken.

Ski ArlbergArlberg ski area


It doesn't have much in the way of Tirolean charm but the town is lively with lots of nightlife.

It has excellent snow reliability with two glaciers above 3,000 metres, one of which annually hosts the season-opening Alpine World Cup race in October.

There are long top-to-bottom runs but be warned that if you stay in the centre of town you may need to get a bus to the lifts.

Soelden has attractions for non skiers too, including the new 007 Experience which opened this summer at Gaislachkogl, and the impressive Ice Q restaurant which featured in the James Bond film, Spectre.

Ice Q restaurant, SoeldenIce Q Soelden


Tignes/Val d'Isere

Separate but linked resorts offering extensive high altitude skiing (up to 3,455 metres).

Both have a glacier and both have some (but not a huge amount) of tree-lined runs to head for if conditions require.

The area is one of our favourites for skiing in December when the slopes tend to be far less busy than during the rest of the season.

The skiing has something for almost everyone but we wouldn't choose it for complete beginners.

Piste signTignes/Val d'Isere in March 2017













Take your pick of resort - Courchevel, La Tania, Meribel, Les Menuires, Val Thorens - and ski on 600 km of pistes from one side of Les3Vallees to the other (and beyond into the fourth valley of Orelle).

Val Thorens offers the highest altitude skiing - it's the highest resort in Europe, sitting at 2,300 metres - but it can be bleak in poor weather.

La Tania is a great base for families, while Les Menuires is generally cheaper than the other resorts.

Les3ValleesLes3Vallees in January 2018
















Meribel is hugely popular with Brits, and swanky Courchevel has a reputation as a place for the rich.

To be fair, it's Courchevel 1850 that attracts those who like to parade their wealth.

We have always favoured Moriond at 1,650m or Le Praz at 1,300m. Shuttle buses operate so there's no problem if there's no snow at that altitude.

Alpe d'Huez

Like many of the French resorts, it's big.

It has varied terrain on a high sunny plateau - which can be an advantage in December when the sun is still low in the sky.

The skiing is from 1,860 metres up to 3,300m.


It's high and snowsure with skiing up to 3,600 metres, including an large glacier.














We love the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites, so if you want spectacular mountain scenery and superbly groomed pistes, this mountain range is hard to beat.

The snowmaking is second to none, if it's needed.

Head to Selva Val Gardena or Corvara in Alta Badia.

The former is good for more challenging slopes and skiing the Sella Ronda circular route.

Alta BadiaAlta Badia 1st December - photo resort
















Alta Badia is great for families, novices and those who love gourmet food.

There's a host of Michelin starred restaurants in the Badia valley, and many mountain huts serve inexpensive brunch dishes created by top chefs throughout the winter.


A glacier resort in the Aosta valley on the Italian side of the Matterhorn with skiing access to Zermatt on the Swiss side.

Excellent if you want lots of easy cruising.

Skiing is up to 3,820 metres.

This winter it has had some of the best early season conditions to date.

CerviniaCervinia in late November - photo resort














Christmas skiing without breaking the bank?

Livigno is a good choice, especially for beginners and intermediates.

It offers skiing from 1,815 up to 2,795 metres.

It's a long way from the Italian airports so it's best to fly to Innsbruck in Austria, if you can.


If you want to create your own Christmas cards to send from your phone or post on social media, the country where winter sports were born is hard to beat.

Here are a few of our favourite locations.


Linked to Cervinia in Italy, Zermatt has the more challenging runs for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders.

It also has the best views of the Matterhorn.

ZermattZermatt this December - photo resort














It's the PlanetSKI editor James Cove's favourite resort in the world, and he's been to a few.

It's high, extensive, with glacier runs from 3,820 metres.

The snow is reliable snow and the scenery spectacular.

There are are great mountain restaurants and there's a lot to do off the slopes, including plenty of nightlife.

What's not to like?


A picturesque, almost car-free, family-friendly village known for its cog railway.

Skiing is under the north face of the Eiger.

WengenWengen & the North Face of the Eiger
















It's linked to the neighbouring resort of Grindelwald and is mostly suited to early intermediates.

Although the resorts themselves are low (Wengen 1,275m and Grindelwald 1,035m) there's good snowmaking.

It's a charming location with lots of Christmas activities laid on for those who want to do more than hit the slopes.

Val d'Anniviers

If you want to get away from it all this festive season, the small resorts in the Val d'Anniviers are worth a visit.

We'd chose St Luc or Chandolin, villages just a few kilometres apart, though Grimentz and Zinal have some fabulous ski touring and off-piste opportunities in the right conditions.

St LucSt Luc, January 2016













The villages are completely unspoilt, the slopes and lifts are empty.

Snow shoe tours are also popular, but don't expect a rowdy après atmosphere.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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