Snow, Santa and seasonal cheer – there’s nothing more magical than Christmas in a ski resort. Check out our top reasons to swap your novelty jumper for your thermals and spend the most wonderful time of the year on the mountain…
Winter wonderland scenery
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Loads of ski resorts have that fairytale festive look – think villages with traditional wooden buildings, surrounded by trees and covered in a blanket of snow. And at this time of year, they’ll be decked out with decorations and lights too.
For even more of a Christmas-card feel, you can stay in a cosy cabin in the woods and spend your time building snowmen or toasting marshmallows over a roaring log fire.
Christmas events & activities
In many resorts, December is the start of the ski season – and they like to celebrate in style, with things like firework displays, concerts and advent shows. You can wander a Christmas market, sipping glühwein or hot chocolate and browsing for last-minute gifts. And the resort staff get in on the fun too, with fancy dress, torchlit descents and après parties.
Most hotels host special gala dinners, so you can still look forward to your turkey and trimmings or get a taste of the local traditions.
And you can make extra special memories by booking some winter activities – race across the landscape on a snowmobile, make new furry friends on a husky-sledding adventure or visit a reindeer farm for a sleigh ride through the woods.
Why wait for Santa at home when you can go and see him in person? The man in red makes an appearance in lots of ski resorts, from parades through town to visiting hotels. He even hits the slopes in some resorts, so keep an eye out and you could tick ‘ski with St Nick’ off your bucket list.
The ultimate experience for little and big kids alike is to go to the real home of Father Christmas. Head to Finland and you can take a trip to Santa’s Secret Cottage or spend the day at the Elves’ Hideaway.
Spend quality time together
Make memories with the people you love by getting out on the mountain together. Swap screen time for slope time, go head-to-head in a snowball fight and ditch the mince pies in favour of fondue. The kids will even be eager to get to school – ski school, that is.
Whether you go with your partner, friends or whole extended family, this is one Christmas you’ll be talking about for years to come.
Avoid the festive stress
It can be pretty stressful to make Christmas perfect, so treat yourself to a proper break this year. Instead of spending the day in the kitchen or zonked out in front of the TV, you can be on the slopes, soaking up the scenery and fresh mountain air. And when you get back, hit the spa for some proper indulgence.
Your hotel or chalet staff will take care of the Christmas dinner prep, or you can head out to a restaurant instead. Whatever you decide, there’ll be no arguments over who’s doing the washing up.
Best resorts for skiing at Christmas
Tignes, France: The few days around Christmas are an all-out party in the Espace Killy area. There are parades in Val Claret and Le Lac, and Santa visits each village to give out sweets to kids. The ski instructors put on a show with torchlit descents, and fireworks light up the sky.
Ruka, Finland: The home of Santa covers a whole wish list of Christmas activities, from reindeer sleigh rides to dog sledding. And you can spend a day at Santa’s Secret Cottage – playing games with the elves and listening to stories and songs from the man himself.
Kronplatz, Italy: The world’s biggest ski area keeps Christmas pretty traditional. In Kronplatz, that means a market, sleigh rides and ice skating, as well as an exhibit at the Museum Ladin Ciastel de Tor, with medieval shows and music.
Zell am See, Austria: This cosmopolitan town has a lovely feel in December. Take long winter walks along the lakeshore, listen to a big band concert, or wander one of the best festive markets around. And don’t miss the Christmas Day tradition, where they sink a tree into the lake and then rescue it.
St Anton, Austria: Known for some of the best après in Europe, St Anton goes all out to celebrate Christmas. There’s a life-size Nativity scene and traditional market, as well as craft workshops and wooden huts where you can listen to festive stories and poems.
Whistler, Canada: Canada’s best ski resort is lit up with fairy lights at Christmas, and you can have a go at things like tubing, ice skating and snowmobiling. Watch pro skiers in action during the Fire & Ice shows, or join in the fun on Dress Like Santa Day and don a costume on the slopes.
Les Arcs, France: Families love the atmosphere here in the Paradiski. The villages are decorated with lights and trees, and there’s a parade to welcome Santa on Christmas Eve, as well as a traditional market, torchlit descents and firework displays.
Zermatt, Switzerland: This place ticks off every Christmas cliché – the picture-postcard village has narrow streets lined with wooden chalets, backed by views of the Matterhorn. Horse-drawn sleighs trot through the car-free town, and there’s a range of gourmet restaurants for a festive feast.
Spend your festive season on the slopes and make it a real merry Christmas.