The main ski season runs from December to April, and each month has its pros. Whether you’re a family looking for a festive feel, or a keen skier hoping to cover some miles, you’ve got to pick the time that suits you best. To help you out, take a look at our guide to skiing in each month.
Skiing in December
- Early-season deals
- Quieter slopes before the school holidays
- Christmas & New Year celebrations
If you’re an expert looking for quiet runs as soon as the season starts, or a beginner who wants space on the slopes to learn, early December is a good time to go. For the best snow, look for high-altitude ski areas that are open from mid-November. One of our favourites is Val Thorens in France, which sits at 2,300m with skiing up to 3,230m. And it’s part of the Three Valleys ski area, with a whopping 600km of piste to get around.
Even better, these first weeks of the season are classed as off-peak, so you can often find cheaper trips before the school holidays.
Families should head off as soon as school’s out to get the best deal – Christmas is usually cheaper than New Year and half term. It’s the perfect time to get into the festive spirit, when resorts are twinkling with lights, hotels are filled with decorations and markets are selling local crafts and treats. And who doesn’t dream of having a white Christmas? For the ultimate winter wonderland trip, head to Ruka in Finland where you can go husky sledding, take a reindeer safari and even meet Santa and his elves.
The end of the month is when the ski resorts really come alive – you’ll find firework displays, torchlight descents and laser light shows over Christmas and New Year. And hotels host gala dinners and parties too.
But the best thing about early-season skiing? You’ll have the rest of the winter to do it all over again.
Skiing in January
- Excellent snow conditions
- Quiet slopes & shorter lift queues
- Great time for deals
By January, resorts should have plenty of the white stuff, and the cold weather keeps it in excellent condition. Even if Mother Nature isn’t doing her bit, most ski areas have snow cannons and they work best in chillier temperatures, so artificial snow can be used to top up the slopes.
This is also the quietest month overall, so it’s a good time for beginners to build confidence – you can practise your new moves without having to dodge loads of people on the piste. Ski schools are less busy too, so they often have smaller group sizes and instructors can spend more time with each skier.
With most of the ski areas open, great snow and fewer lift queues, January is the sweet spot for experts who want to start the year on a high. To rack up the miles in Europe’s biggest ski area, head to Selva Val Gardena to explore over 1,220km in the Dolomiti Superski.
January sales can spread to ski holidays too – less people are travelling, so the prices are usually lower. Look out for deals on flights and accommodation, as well as offers on lift passes and equipment hire. A top pick for a cheaper getaway is Pas de la Casa in Andorra. It’s got excellent-value hotels, apartments and après, and you can take advantage of the country’s duty-free status while you’re there.
Skiing in February
- Prime time for families
- Half-term fun in Crystal Childcare
- Plenty of activities for kids
February half term is the most popular time for family ski holidays, so book early to make sure you can get what you’re looking for.
In the big, family-friendly resorts like La Plagne in France and Passo Tonale in Italy, there are excellent ski schools and instructors that are great with the little ones. And Crystal Childcare is available too, so you can get in some adults-only slope time while the kids are having fun. Lots of resorts also put on special activities and events, like family ski races, sleigh rides with the local mascot, and torchlight descents. And when you’re not skiing, you can get stuck in to husky sledding, ziplining and ice skating.
If you’d rather avoid the peak February crowds but still want a big ski area, try looking at lesser-known resorts in Austria and France. These smaller towns and villages tend to be quieter than their big-name neighbours, but you’ll still have access to the same great skiing via lifts or buses.
Skiing in March & April
- Spring skiing & après in the sun
- Quiet slopes
- Last-minute deals
Grab a last-minute deal or squeeze in a short ski break to get your final snow fix before the season ends.
You should choose March or April if you want to take a late-season trip and enjoy some spring skiing. Make the most of the longer days, warmer temperatures and quieter slopes to really cover some miles. Or take it easy with morning pit stops and long lunches on slopeside sun terraces. If you’re all about those bluebird skies, you’ll love Alpe d’Huez – it’s nicknamed the ‘Island in the Sun’ for having over 300 days of sunshine each year.
When picking your resort, look out for ones with tree-lined runs and north-facing slopes – these areas stay out of the sun, so the snow stays crisper for longer. Or pick high-altitude ski areas and places with glacier skiing. And if the snow does get a bit soft in the afternoon, you can always ditch your skis and try some other winter activities. We especially love Banff in Canada, where you can go snowmobiling, fat biking and even walk through an ice canyon.
If you love après just as much as skiing, March and April are a great time for parties on the piste and slopeside festivals. You can dance until dawn in your ski boots or sit back in a deckchair and watch ski shows and stage performances at end-of-season celebrations.
Whether you’re after the first lifts of the season, a festive break over Christmas and New Year, or a spot of spring skiing, there’s a ski holiday that’s right for you. Pick your favourite month and check out our ski deals.