Listen to the live music and guzzle the vin chaud and hot chocolate in Val d'Isere's pretty setting

Listen to the live music and guzzle the vin chaud and hot chocolate in Val d'Isere's pretty setting

Copyright: Val d'Isere

Skiing in the school holidays is a popular choice for many snow-loving families. Check out our pick of family-friendly ski resorts with the most reliable snow cover at half term, Christmas and Easter.

Read our guide to the best skiing in the school holidays 2019/20.


Skiing in the school holidays 2019/20 doesn’t have to start at Christmas, a handful of ski resorts are actually open in October half term. But shhhhh not many people know about it!

Just a few benefits of early-season skiing include uncrowded slopes, cheaper accommodation and great deals on lift passes.

Skiing in October/November generally means glacier skiing. The majority of open skiing at this time of year is found in Austria, high up on the glaciers. Here are a few top ski picks for skiing in October half term 2019/20:

Tignes, France has opened its Grande Motte Glacier in time for the October half term holidays. Ski alongside some of the world's greatest athletes who come here to train for future competitions. 

Pitztal, Austria has the highest glacier skiing in Austria (3440m) and is open between September and May with 20km of pistes, a freestyle park and a half pipe.

Dachstein, Austria has plenty of varied glacial skiing as well as the famous Dachstein Sky Walk, a high-mountain walkway with a 250m drop.

Solden, Austria is home to two glaciers (up to 3000m), efficient gondolas, and plenty of lively apres-ski options.

Zermatt, Switzerland is home to two of Europe’s highest ski lifts, reaching heights of 3899m, and is known for its phenomenal snow record.

Saas-Fee, Switzerland is a traditional, family-friendly mountain village offering high-altitude skiing and mostly north-facing slopes, ideal for great early snow.

Cervinia, Italy is usually open at the end of October and is a favourite with intermediates for its long, cruisy runs. It also has access from the Italian Alps up to the Matterhorn glacier paradise above Zermatt.

Ruka, Finland in Lapland is home to the longest non-glacier ski season in Europe, open from mid-October to mid-June. 

October skiing in Cervinia, Italy  - © Cervinia Valtournenche - Ski Paradise

October skiing in Cervinia, Italy

Copyright: Cervinia Valtournenche - Ski Paradise


Guarantee the kids a white Christmas by taking them to the ski slopes. The Alps are a wonderful place to celebrate Christmas the old-fashioned way: listen to carollers in town squares, slurp mulled wine and delicious hot chocolate, browse traditional Christmas markets and even enjoy a visit from Father Christmas (he takes time out from his busy schedule to visit some of the larger resorts).

Here are six of the best resorts for skiing in the Christmas school holidays 2019/20:

Val d’Isere, France with its traditional Savoyard architecture, live music, costumed characters, face painting, thousands of twinkly lights and all rounded off with a visit from Papa Noel who gets pulled down the main street on a sleigh.

Kitzbuehel, Austria is bursting with alpine charm and festive cheer. A highlight is the Christmas market with wooden handicrafts, delicious food, mulled wine as well as pony rides and a petting zoo. Local choirs fill the central square in the evenings.

Ischgl, Austria is a firm Christmas fav with non-stop events. Highlights include Christmas carols at St. Nikolaus Church on Boxing Day; torch-lit night ski shows at the Prennerhang where instructors display impressive stunts; and spectacular firework shows on New Year’s Eve and Jan. 6.

Lech, Austria is one of the prettiest villages in Alps and, as you’d expect, it hosts a charming Christmas. Highlights include the Christmas Market in Zug village square selling warm gluhwein, gingerbread, candles, traditional wooden toys and much more; live music at the market from brass bands and choirs; and the whole village is decorated with more sparkly lights than you can shake a stick at!

Courchevel, France is known for attracting the glitzy, upmarket skiers, but the resort also has plenty of traditional charm. Father Christmas’s sleigh is pulled down the main street adorned with torches and fairy lights. Other highlights include the Christmas Village selling traditional crafts and delicious food and of course the outdoor Chamallow Party with its live music, fire pits and marshmallow toasting.

Megeve, France, is a stylish and pretty resort that really encapsulates the magic of Christmas with a giant Christmas tree dominating the town square, as well as ice figurines telling the nativity story, horse-drawn sleigh rides and a visit from Father Christmas.

Magical Megeve at Christmas time  - © Simon Garnier

Magical Megeve at Christmas time

Copyright: Simon Garnier


Skiing in February half term is a very popular choice as snow cover is usually very reliable throughout the Alps. Be sure to track down the best ski deals in the school holidays 2019/20 by reading our article “DIY verses the tour op packages


Skiing in the Easter holidays is ideal for those who like their snow served up with plenty of sunshine. There’s usually a good snow base towards the end of winter and big snowfalls are surprisingly common.

The best time to ski is in the morning, after that the spring sunshine can make the snow a little slushy. Afternoons are a great time for a long leisurely lunch or to try other mountain activities like swimming, walking, tobogganing, snow tubing and climbing.

Ideally you should choose a high-altitude resort, northerly slopes or one with great artificial snow. Here’s our pick of the best resorts to ski in the Easter school holidays 2019/20.

Les Arcs, France is the highest ski resort in the extensive and varied Paradiski Area (425km) with everything from glacier skiing (3250m) to treelined runs and top-to-bottom skiing in springtime.

Tignes/Val d’Isere, France combine to form the Espace Killy ski area which stays open until early May. Tignes offers high-altitude skiing on the Grande Motte Glacier while Val d’Isere’s north-facing slopes retain excellent snow cover.

Val Thorens, France is the highest resort in Europe, at 2300m, and is snowsure right through to May. The resort makes up part of the huge, interlinked 3 Valleys ski area and has a compact but lively centre.

St. Anton, Austria is a pretty town known for its excellent freeriding, many north-facing slopes and some of the most renowned nightlife in the Alps.

Obergurgl, Austria is one of the highest resorts in Europe without a glacier. This family-friendly resort is known for its wide, open slopes, variable terrain and pretty village.

Ischgl, Austria is a high-altitude resort which stays open until early May thanks to its many of north-facing runs. It’s also known for its untracked off-piste, awesome terrain parks and legendary apres-ski.

Spacious slopes of Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria  - © Obergurgl Tourism

Spacious slopes of Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria

Copyright: Obergurgl Tourism


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