Dreaming of a white Christmas? Craig Burton from Ski Solutions suggests three great destinations. As well as having winter wonderland powder and slopes to suit the whole family, these three destinations’ villages love to celebrate the festive season.
Santa Claus arrives early in Méribel, with a sleigh procession to the town square. Live music and entertainment, in the form of elves on stilts, gets everyone in the mood for a spot of carol singing around the Christmas tree – complete with free, cockles-warming mulled wine and hot chocolate. No need to swot up on your French: most people sing along in English.
You’ll wake up on Christmas morning with 600km of skiable terrain right on your doorstep. The pretty chalet style resort of Méribel lies in the heart of the Trois Vallées. After a morning on the powder, tuck into a traditional roast at après-ski favourite Evolution. The brasserie will be serving turkey with all the trimmings from noon until 10pm.
Later, take the family to the Himalaya Piste for a spot of sledging. The luge will be open at night on Thursdays throughout the season, with special openings on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Expect live music, toasted marshmallows and hot drinks.
Zell am See, Austria
When you wake up in Zell am See you’ll feel like you’ve skied straight into a Christmas card. Nothing will get you in the spirit faster than a stroll through the Zeller Sternenadventmarkt Christmas market, mulled wine in hand. Browse the handicraft stalls and you’ll find plenty of gifts to impress those back home, such as knitted hats and carefully carved wooden toys.
Austrians take Christmas seriously, so there’s plenty going on throughout December – from choral singing to local traditions such as the Krampusauslauf on the 5th. According to Bavarian legend, the Krampus is a creature who punishes naughty children, and the parade promises plenty of fun (and mischief). On weekends during advent, take an evening boat tour on the lake – complete with Christmas cookies and warm spiced drinks.
If you asked Santa for adventure this year, you’re in luck: Zell am See is home to Salzburg’s only glacier ski resort Kitzsteinhorn, and has the world’s longest night time toboggan run (Bramberg at the Wildkogel) nearby.
If you fancy celebrating like a celebrity, head to Aspen. Lady Gaga, Elton John and Mariah Carey were among the famous faces spotted on the slopes last Christmas. Aspen Chamber Resort Association runs numerous festive events, known as the 12 Days of Aspen, from 20th to 31st December. When you’re not hitting the slopes, you’ll find plenty of Christmas activities to keep you occupied.
On Christmas Eve, head to the Hotel Jerome for carols in the lobby, courtesy of The Holiday Belltones, before visiting the Aspen chapel for a traditional candlelight service. On the big day itself, stroll along to The Little Nell for Christmas dinner at the Ajax Tavern – the prix fixe menu includes white truffle carbonara, Ibérico pork loin and molten chocolate cake with marshmallow and brandied cherries.
After spending Boxing Day tackling the tough slopes of Ajax, head to Aspen Shakti for an après-ski with a difference. The centre offers yoga classes to help you burn off all that turkey.
Ski Solutions is Britain’s original and largest specialist ski travel agency and tailor-made tour operator, with over 30 years’ experience in creating memorable ski breaks in the mountains. Their expert team can select from thousands of ski holidays offered by a wide variety of reputable, fully bonded tour operators, or package something tailored to you. Whether you’re looking for a large chalet in France for a celebration with friends over New Year, a romantic luxury hotel in Switzerland for a short break or a two-week bespoke trip to some of North America’s more remote resorts, Ski Solutions can help.
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