Music festivals in the snow
Wednesday 9, February 2011
This year’s best winter parties are mixing snowy settings with high-altitude acts, says Elisa Bray.
FESTIVAL DES CONCERTS SAUVAGES (GREAT OUTDOORS MUSIC FESTIVAL)
PORTES DU SOLEIL, FRENCH AND SWISS ALPS, 2-9 APRIL
Brand-new, this festival offers more than 20 acoustic gigs across the 12 French-Swiss resorts of the Portes du Soleil. Every gig is held in a magical snowy setting, but the precise location remains a mystery until the last moment. Just beforehand, festival-goers find out where to go by SMS. They'll then have to put on their skis to get there. Partnered with Warner, this promises well-known international pop and rock acts.
Stay The inexpensive Chalet-Hotel Les Alpages in Les Gets, from £50 per person; seven days half-board £415pp/children £290 (hotel-alpages.com, en.portesdusoleil.com/).
Tickets Your Portes du Soleil liftpass doubles as the entrance ticket (£31 a day/£160 weekly).
Way to go British Airways flies to Geneva from London Heathrow, Gatwick and City. Visit ba.com.
WINTER SESSIONS WEEKENDER
CHAMONIX, FRANCE, 22-24 APRIL
The boutique festival takes place on and off the slopes of Mont Blanc, at Chamonix, the third most visited natural site in the world. In its second year, it caters for 18-to 40-year-old adventure-seeking music lovers. The line-up includes dance, pop, dub reggae and hip-hop from international DJs, artists and MCs, including Norman Jay and Gilles Peterson, and emerging acts Engine-EarZ Experiment. It's three nights of parties (with celebrities hosting exclusive chalet after-parties). It's also a chance to sample the snow sports Chamonix offers: paragliding, heli-skiing, the world's highest elevation lift to the Aiguille du Midi and one of Europe's longest glaciers (Mer de Glace).
Stay The charming three-star Chalet Les Bois for rustic Alpine style, from £235pp for two nights, including flights; weekday prices start at £209 (subject to availability, based on two sharing and includes all UK taxes. Based on March departures). Contact ba.com/ski, +44 (0)844 493 0758.
Tickets £85 from wintersessions.net.
Way to go BA flies to flies to Geneva from London Heathrow, Gatwick and City. Visit ba.com.
MAYRHOFEN, AUSTRIA, 4-9 APRIL
With a line-up to rival the summer festivals, Snowbombing is the biggest party of the snow season and transforms the tranquil village of Mayrhofen into a hive of activity. The bands will keep dance-loving party-goers and discerning indie music fans happy: The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim, Tinie Tempah, Ms Dynamite, Chase & Status, Scratch Perverts and emerging rock bands. A new venue is being added to the existing main and forest stages, while there are three igloo parties and a secret squirrel hunt in the forest. Capacity has increased to 6,000, and there are also top comedy acts.
Stay The ornate Elisabeth hotel (elisabethhotel.com) has the best spa in town. From £246.
Tickets Packages including five days' stay and festival pass from £240. Visit snowbombing.com.
Way to go BA flies to Munich daily from London Heathrow. Visit ba.com.
THE BRITS MUSIC AND WINTER FESTIVAL
LAAX, SWITZERLAND, 20-27 March
Seven days of snowboarding and skiing and seven nights of live music and DJ acts. The dance line-up includes the chart-topping Pendulum and The Correspondents, while the festival unites the UK's top Olympian sportsmen Ben Kilner, Zoe Gillings and three times X-Games gold medallist Jenny Jones for DJ sets. Everyone has the opportunity to showcase their skills and compete for British Championship titles while exploring the 220km of incredible terrain.
Stay Rocks Resort, a design award-winning hotel; from £439pp for seven nights in an apartment for four, with a six-day lift pass and Brits festival pass (designhotels.com/rocksresort).
Tickets Packages including seven days' accommodation, lift pass and festival pass start at £255 from britishsnowtour.com
Way to go BA flies to Zurich daily from London Heathrow and London City. Visit ba.com.
THE BIG SNOW
ANDORRA, SPAIN, 13-20 MARCH
This festival brings together top live music and parties with winter sports in the heart of the Pyrenees. Take to the slopes during the day and party by night to DJ sets and live music, including headliner, electro-pop act Example. Judge Jules, Tim Westwood, Fearne Cotton and Scott Mills take over the après-ski parties.
Stay Princesa Parc (hotelprincesaparc.com), a five-star hotel in Arinsal; from £484pp for seven nights' half-board and festival pass.
Tickets £99 from thebigsnowfestival.com.
Way to go BA flies to Toulouse daily from London Heathrow, and to Barcelona daily from Heathrow and London City. Visit ba.com.
JAZZ UP FESTIVAL
AVORIAZ, FRANCE, 18-25 MARCH
Perched high on a cliff face, Avoriaz is accessible only by cable car and Jazz Up is the most civilised festival of them all. Four dinner concerts take place over a week and Archie Schepp, Mina Agossi, Louis Winsberg and China Moses have all played. It features a gospel night from Liz McComb (the Mahalia Jackson Prize singer) and Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan.
Stay The hip Hotel les Dromonts. Seven nights from £1,065pp, including flights and half-board accommodation plus one free night (subject to availability based on two sharing and includes all UK taxes. Based on March departures). Contact ba.com/ski, +44 (0)844 493 0758.
Tickets £55 from avoriaz.com.
Way to go BA flies to Geneva from London Heathrow, Gatwick and City. Visit ba.com
More and more travellers think that researching and planning a European city break is half the fun and they're not interested in pre-arranged trips or escorted tours. Self-guided tours offer a lot of advantages but require some guidance and good resources.
With the recent wild fires, disrupting flights and increasing air pollution, environmental quality is a growing factor in attracting tourists.
The hotel price comparison site www.trivago.co.uk has put together a list of the fifteen most spectacular hotel rooftop terraces in the world.