As skiing has evolved from being a niche sport to a leisure activity enjoyed by the whole family, ski stations have widened the scope of their attractions. At first it was all about soothing away those sprains and pains in a sauna, which naturally evolved into spas and wellness centres. Then gyms, fitness and other sports were natural additions, as were traditional snowy activities like building igloos, climbing and sledging. Meanwhile après-ski has also become more sophisticated and resorts built cinemas and cultural centres and now many ski resorts are becoming fully-fledged cultural hotspots offering fascinating museums, land art, film festivals and a mass of musical events. Here is just a small selection of what’s on this coming season:
December 9-10, Les Menuires: Brand new for this year, the Mountain Geek and Tech Fest weekend will focus on technology and gaming: video games, concerts, plus retro-gaming and a simulation space.
December 16-23, Les Arcs 1950: The Festival du Cinéma Européen includes screenings of 120 films in various venues, and a host of roundtables, conferences and muscial events.
January 6-13, Saint-Sorlin d’Arves: Les 70 ans de la station is basically a week-long birthday but it will include historical re-enactments, explaining the history of skiing and the ski station.
January 16-21, Alpe d’Huez: The jury at the Festival International du Film de Comédie is headed by actor Franck Dubosc, best known for starring in the ‘Camping’ franchise.
January 18-24, Samoëns: La Semaine Vigneronne offers a week of wine-tastings, talks and informal instruction about wine making. There are also, of course, gastronomic soirées and foodie workshops.
January 23-26,Valloire: The Concours International de Sculptures sur Neige has been going strong for 35 years. Artists compete to produce the most extraordinary works of art completely sculpted out of snow.
February 10-17, Sancy: Snow Jazz is just what it says; seven nights of jazz concerts including open mics, jam sessions, tributes and more. This festival has been running for 29 years and would be a notable event, even if it wasn’t held in a ski resort.
March 18-24, Les Portes du Soleil: Rock the Pistes has been entertaining skiers with rock and pop concerts since it started back in 2011, and has now become an attraction in its own right.