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New UK snow centre opens
Tuesday May 5, 2009 - Email this article to a friend

The latest indoor snow centre, with real snow, has opened in Hemel Hempstead. It’s the 6th one in Britain and we've been along to see what it’s like.

Winter may be almost over in the Alps but, rather bizarrely, you can still make a few turns in the UK. There’s half a metre of fresh snow, a team of instructors on hand and even some après ski.

If the PR people are to be believed it’s “the best snow this side of the Alps,” or at least that what it says on some advertising boards as you approach The Snow Centre.

The fun parkThe fun parkIt cost £23m and is on the site of the old Hemel Hempstead Ski Centre to the north of London.  It has 2 drag lifts, a main slope of 160m and a special slope for lessons that is 100m long. 

It has a couple of rails and some jumps. 

The main slope is the longest indoor one in the UK.

It was opened by the ex-racer, Alain Baxter. See the video below as Alain skis through a ribbon to open the centre and hear his comments about what he makes of the place.

So what is the snow like?

Well, we found it surprisingly good.  It took 5 weeks to make enough to cover the slopes and there is 250,000 tons of the stuff with a depth of 1/2m.  The temperature remains at around –2ºC and goes down to –6ºC when they make the snow.

Not many of these in this part of the UKNot many of these in this part of the UKThe Snow Centre even has it’s own piste basher to move the snow around and ensure that it is groomed. 

They normally make new snow, to freshen things up, every couple of days or so and it is made from just pure water with no added chemicals so The Centre claims it is environmentally friendly. 

However large amounts of energy are used making the snow in the first place and, of course, keeping the temperature below freezing.

Ann Horner is the director of The Snow Centre; see the video below for an interview with her by our content editor, James Cove, who is back in the UK for a few days.

If you want to read what it is like to ski on then see this related article by Krystyna Chauncey who was one of the first people to ski on the slope and take a lesson.

It is the only indoor snow centre in the UK to hold the ‘Centre of Excellence’ status given out by the British Association of Snowsports Instructors (BASI).  It has a full team of qualified snowsports instructors.

For more information on prices, events and the other activities on offer then check out

All in all we rather liked it and will certainly be back for more.

Just because winter is over in the Alps doesn’t mean we can’t go skiing and indulge our passion!

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