Being the first on the mountain is never overrated. Peak ski season might run from around Christmas week to March, but Europe’s got loads to offer in early December. Whether you’re a Powder Hound in search of an off-piste party or you want a week in winter wonderland with The Unstoppables, we’ve got something for you.
1. Avoid Queues – for everything
Early December is off-peak in the skiing world. That means quiet resorts: quiet lifts, quiet bars, quiet pistes. If there’s one thing we love more than plummeting down a mountain, it’s plummeting down a mountain without the risk of colliding with an entire ski school at any moment.
For the most peaceful pistes, try Ruka in Finland and have the snow all to yourself.
2. Save money
If you’re a grown-up or group of grown-ups, get a week in before the school holidays start and outside peak to make some decent savings. If you’re a grown-up with kids, give them and yourself the Christmas adventure of a lifetime. Simple.
If it’s bang for your buck that you’re after, try Obergurgl; get world-class skiing without the price tag.
3. Rub shoulders with the stars
Do you know who goes skiing in December? Ski teams. Olympians. The people who take their skiing seriously. Do you know why they go skiing in December? Because they know something you don’t: that it’s awesome, and that nobody else goes skiing in December. Get out there and experience a star-studded week of snowy glory.
Try glacier skiing in Tignes for a taste of exclusivity.
4. Get in there before your mates
There’s a reason people queue up outside the Apple store on the eve of a new product launch: the joy of having something before all your mates. Get on the piste in December, get your goggle tan on for Christmas and spend the whole of the next month gloating at everyone’s regular, consistent, pale complexion.
Val Thorens is one of our earliest opening and best selling French resorts. What are you waiting for?
5. Winter wonderland
Here in the UK we have a very idealised vision of how we want Christmas time to be. It involves snow, fairy lights and fir trees. The reality of the British festive period however often tends to be very different: building snow-shapes from the light dusting on our cars, weeping quietly as our dreams of a white Christmas turn to grey slush in our hands and the gently falling sleet turns to drizzle around us, all bathed in the cold light of suburban streetlamps.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Europe’s ski resorts are magical high-altitude wonderlands of cold weather, fir trees and enough of the white stuff for a decent snowball fight. Even if you don’t stay over Christmas itself, festive markets and lovely lighting will make for a much more picturesque advent than the one you get at home. If you’re not into dog sledding and ice skating (what’s wrong with you?), the fact remains that winter in any one of our European resorts will be a damn sight more romantic than enduring pouring rain and cold, damp mornings in the UK.
Scandinavian resorts, Finland in particular, are famous for their incredible winter adventures. New to the Crystal programme this year, Levi and Yllas both sit within the Arctic Circle, so not only can you expect all the best Scandinavian activities – dog sledding, reindeer safaris, snowmobiling – and the most magical Christmassy atmosphere, but you also have some of the best chances anywhere of seeing the Northern Lights.