Where to ski for New Year in the Alps

4th November 2013 | Juliane Matthey

 fire spectacle at New Year's Eve in Les Menuires

fire spectacle at New Year's Eve in Les Menuires

Copyright: Philippe Royer

OnTheSnow has scoured the Alps for the biggest and best New Year celebrations. We've wrapped up our findings in this guide: Where to ski for New Year.

If you’re planning to see in the New Year at an alpine ski resort, you can do it in two ways: partying through the night or getting back to the roots of New Year’s Eve traditions. 

We've concentrated on where to ski for New Year in the big four ski regions: France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.

FRANCE

France throws some of the biggest and highest New Year’s Eve parties in the Alps. The Fire Mix Party at Tignes is among the biggest New Year's parties in the Alps. "Every year between 20,000 and 25,000 clubbers get together on the highest snow dance floor in Europe", says Margot Sella of Tignes Développement. This year star DJ Martin Solveig will be mixing at this open-air night club at 2,100 metres.

Another major party location for New Year’s is La Plagne. Here the snowy ground around the base station is turned into a giant dancefloor with light shows and pyrotechnics until 2 p.m.

In Les Menuires (from 6.30 p.m.) and Megève (from 6 p.m.) it's less about noise and pyrotechnics than about good old torches: Here grown-ups and kids alike can admire fire juggling, fireworks and the torchlight descent of the ski instructors while getting warm from the inside with hot chocolate or mulled wine. In Chamrousse (from 7 p.m.) you can even watch the snow groomers dance.

Similar events can be found in many of the family-friendly French resorts, such as Les Gets and Samoëns in the Haute-Savoie. As an extra, both resorts are turned into fairytale Christmas villages that are still open after Father Christmas has left.

The "Val Tho Crazy Night" at Val Thorens promises a little bit of everything: live concert and  torch processions, a freestyle show and entertainment for children – and fireworks at midnight, of course.

Fire Mix Party in Tignes, with David Guetta

Copyright: Tristan Shu

AUSTRIA

In Austria, New Year’s Eve is all about tradition, fireworks and an old lady called Die Pummerin.

In Achenkirch, it's a good old New Year’s Eve tradition to jump into the ice-cold Achensee lake, swim to an iceberg, ring the bell attached to it and swim back. If you aren't bold enough yourself, no problem: Just join the 2,500 to 3,000 spectators who cheer the swimmers each year from around 12.30 p.m. on Dec. 31st.

At many resorts - such as Hochötz in the Ötztal or Mayrhofen in the Zillertal – you can welcome the New Year at the hill station at around 2,000 metres, with live music and a spectacular view of the fireworks in the valley. In the Alpenlounge Seegrube restaurant high above the Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck, music and views are combined with a classy five-course meal.

Kitzbühel, Ischgl and Lech-Zuers take fireworks to a whole new level. Kitzbühel starts its pyrotechnical marathon on Dec. 30th (6 p.m.) in nearby Reith, with a children's party and fireworks, followed by torchfire skiing, more fireworks and concert in the village of Jochberg on Dec. 31st (5 p.m.) and a ski show with yet more fireworks on January 1st (5.30 p.m.) at the finish line of the world-famous Hahnenkamm race.

In Ischgl, fireworks will be lit at five different spots at exactly six minutes past midnight and accompanied by music from 13 sound stations. Six minutes past, you wonder? The delay is a gesture of respect by Ischgl's party animals to an old Austrian tradition: the sound of the Pummerin – the  largest bell of the Stephansdom in Vienna – will ring from every TV in the country. "Its sound is broadcast all over Austria", explains Martina Jamnig of the Austrian National Tourist Office. "And after that everyone waltzes into the New Year."

Fireworks in Lech am Arlberg

Copyright: Österreich Werbung/ Ascher

SWITZERLAND

Winter in Switzerland conjures images of cosy chalets, raclette and fondue. But what about Electro, Dubstep, Rap and Rock? This is what you get at the New Year’s Bang at the Riders Palace Club in Laax, starting at 10 p.m. on Dec. 31st.

At the same time, stars of the Swiss and international hip-hop scene gather at the party tent next to the stadium of Davos. Dancing until 5 a.m. is guaranteed at the Big Bang Davos.

The village of Grindelwald in the Bernese Alps is completely turned into a party zone. From 10 p.m. to 4 p.m. the main street is reserved for all-night après ski.

A whole ten days full of music is what Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland offers you from Dec. 27th to Jan. 5th. The tunes that can be heard will be a lot more classical, though. The non-profit New Year Music Festival in Gstaad features a series of 14 concerts at festive places such as the Grand Hotel Park Gstaad.

"There are still deals available over the New Year in resorts such as Laax, Grindelwald and Gstaad", says Nicola Stillfried of Switzerland Tourism. "However, regular guests tend to reserve accomodation in the big skiing destinations months in advance." Deals can be booked via www.myswitzerland.com/en.

Samnaun is the right choice for you if you want to make exercise your New Year’s resolution: Hike through the snow up to the lonely Motta Saltuorn hut and have some punch or mulled wine while admiring the fireworks at midnight. For the way back you just have to hop on a sled.

When spending New Year's in Switzerland, Silvesterklausen is a custom you definitely should not miss. In many parts of the Appenzellerland and the Bernese Oberland the local men dress up as Kläuse, looking either like colourful wooden puppets, shaggy monsters or forest spirits. Between Dec. 30th and Jan. 1st they come to every house to sing, ring their bells and wish you good luck for the new year.

To celebrate Klosters' New Year’s Day tradition, you probably have to be either really young or still a bit silly from all the glasses raised the evening before: At the New Year's pig race ten piglets compete for the honour of passing good luck in the new year. Local experts insist that all pigs are prepared thoroughly with exercise and music.

Pig race at Klosters, Switzerland.

Copyright: Klosters

ITALY 

In the smaller ski resorts in South Tyrol many holiday guests welcome the New Year gathered at the valley stations, watching the ski shows and local fireworks.

In St. Ulrich in Gröden the local innkeepers invite you for a drink in the festively-lit pedestrian zone. Nearby St. Christina in Gröden offers DJ music and a light show starting at 9 p.m. Sterzing in the Eisack Valley keeps it simple by just keeping the Christmas market open so the guests can warm themselves with hot wine while waiting for 2014.

If you are more of a party person, the bigger towns such as Merano, Bolzano and Brixen are the place for you to be. Starting at 10 p.m., Merano celebrates the change of the year with live music on three town squares – one of them is even turned into an ice rink. Brixen the Domplatz are turned into the 'biggest ballroom of the region', as the local tourist office puts it. At midnight everyone waltzes into 2014, just like they do in Austria.

The sportiest way to wave 2013 goodbye might be the BoClassic run in South Tyrol's capital Bozen: A 1,260 metre long course through the historical city centre, to be run eight times by men, four times by women. Amateur runners start at 1 p.m., the world's running elite starts at 3 p.m. Of course, you can also just come and watch.

If you like it cosy and simple, you can also spend New Year's at one of the South Tyrolean family farms that are organised under the 'Red Rooster' label. There the landlady will be happy to serve you home-cooked meals and local wines.

Domplatz in Brixen

Copyright: Südtirol Marketing/Laurin Moser

 

 

 

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