Have you watched the Christmas episode of The Bear yet? If not, let me tell you that it’s one of the best hours of TV you’ll see all year, rivaled only by that third episode of The Last Of Us and Connor’s wedding in Succession.
Without too many spoilers, the episode in question, titled Fishes, involves a family gathered to celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian American event held on Christmas Eve. Family gatherings over the holidays are rarely stress-free and this episode shows just how chaotic and explosive they can get.
Yep, without wishing to put a downer on your next yuletide celebrations, family conflict is often rife at Christmas time. As reported by The Guardian, a whopping 68% of people expect to row over the holidays and 39% cite Christmas Day as the epicentre of their family disharmony. Festive stress is a very real thing, with another study suggesting that it can literally give you a heart attack.
There’s always a palpable pressure to make Christmas as idyllic as possible and not ruin proceedings. But how? Well, here’s a thought; you could escape your domestic Christmas altogether, just like The Kranks tried to do, by going someplace they don’t celebrate it – maybe Malaysia or Morroco.
However, if you’re into all the yuletide stuff, but simply want to escape the seasonal disputes at home, then why not choose a Christmas ski holiday to experience a Christmas like no other.
There’s something undeniably enchanting about spending the Christmas season amidst snow-capped mountains, roaring log fires and the joie de vivre of the apres ski scene. The experience is both exhilarating and serene, offering an ideal escape from the usual stress of the holiday season. Plus, you’re all but guaranteed a white Christmas, of course!
So, avoid crying into a bubbling pan of burnt bread sauce and escape on a Christmas snow holiday. Here are some top tips to help you make the most of your snowy getaway this festive season.
Select The Best Destinations For Your Family’s Unique Needs
Ski resorts are undeniably at their most magical at Christmas. They transform into enchanting winter wonderlands during Christmas, offering a unique blend of festive charm and thrilling outdoor activities. The streets are adorned with twinkling lights and beautiful decorations, creating a magical atmosphere that is amplified by the soft fall of snow.
Resorts offer a plethora of activities beyond skiing, such as dog-sledding, ice skating, and wellness centres, all tailored to your needs. Special events like Christmas parades and visits from Santa Claus only add to the festive spirit. It’s so magical, you half expect to see Father Christmas himself shredding the slopes. In some places, you actually do!
That said, not all ski resorts offer the same thing. Choosing the right destination is crucial for a memorable Christmas ski holiday. Do you want somewhere family friendly with plenty of kids activities? Or, somewhere more grown up with fancy restaurants? It’s all down to the destination. Here are some of the best, depending on your interests include:
- Whistler Blackcomb, Canada: Whistler Blackcomb, located in British Columbia, Canada, guarantees impressive snowy landscapes and magnificent mountain views. The village sparkles with Christmas lights during the holiday season. Apart from the world-class skiing facilities, they host the ‘Whistler Holiday Experience’, an indoor family fun zone filled with mini-golf, bouncy castles, crafts, and video games. On top of all that, don’t miss the annual Christmas Eve Carol Service for some heartwarming melodies amidst the winter chill.
- Courchevel, France: Courchevel is part of Les Trois Vallées, the world’s largest lift-linked ski area, transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas. Enjoy the magical International Festival of Pyrotechnic Art, a dazzling fireworks competition held during the holiday season. The ski resort also organises a Christmas parade with Santa, festive markets, ice sculptures, and free concerts.
- Aspen, USA: Com here for the ’12 Days of Aspen’ event which celebrates the holiday season with free ice-skating performances, visits from Santa’s reindeer, carollers in the streets, film screenings, and craft workshops for kids. Spend your Christmas day skiing and capping it with Aspen’s traditional torchlight parade down Little Nell run, followed by fireworks over Aspen Mountain.
- St. Moritz, Switzerland: St. Moritz, one of the world’s oldest and most glamorous ski resorts, offers a luxurious Christmas experience. With its elegant boutiques, prestigious events, and gourmet restaurants, St. Moritz is perfect for those who love extravagance along with their ski experience. Christmas here is marked by horse races on the frozen lake, ice cricket competitions, and the unique ‘White Turf’ event on Lake St. Moritz taking place in January, an international horse race on snow.
- Niseko, Japan: Famous for its exceptional powder snow, Niseko offers four interlinked ski resorts on one pass. During Christmas, the resort sparkles with spectacular illuminations and hosts grand Christmas Eve and New Year’s fireworks. The Christmas Market at Niseko Village is a must-visit for its lip-smacking food and local craft stalls.
To Cater For Christmas Yourself Or Not?
What better way to whet your appetite for a feast and lift your spirits skyward than to spend Christmas morning on the slopes without having to worry about the cooking.
One of the best ways to ensure a relaxed and hassle-free Christmas ski holiday is by booking a catered chalet. A catered chalet offers a warm, homey atmosphere, combined with the luxury of having meals prepared for you. That means you can enjoy a traditional Christmas feast without the stress of cooking or cleaning up afterwards.
Moreover, many catered chalets provide additional services such as arranging ski equipment rentals, lift passes, and even organising activities for children. This leaves you free to focus on hitting the slopes and making the most of your holiday.
If you do choose a self-catering chalet, that doesn’t mean you have to cook! Just go out to a restaurant, if you’re looking to let your hair down (and avoid any washing up). Indeed, according to research, many people are now favouring the stress-free option of enjoying their Christmas feast in a restaurant.
Choose A Ski Resort With A Christmas Market
The Christmas market is a long-standing tradition in many European countries, and some ski resorts offer their own versions. These markets are a festive wonderland filled with charming stalls selling handmade crafts, local delicacies, and unique gifts. Not only do they provide an opportunity for last-minute Christmas shopping, but they also offer a chance to soak up the local culture and spirit of the season.
The ski holiday experts over at SNO tells us that the below ski resorts do “Christmas markets as they should be – infectiously merry, unhurried and traditional, with mulled wine and gingerbread every way you turn.”
We couldn’t agree more. Here are several of Europe’s most magical…
- Zell am See, Austria: Here you’ll find twenty-something huts selling all the usual festive fare. On December 25th, the festive fun reaches its peak with the unforgettable Christmas Tree Diving event where a dazzlingly decorated fir tree is cast 15 metres into the lake and then rescued by a daring team of divers.
- Cortina, Italy: For a whole month, a Christmas market lines the Corso Italia (Italy’s answer to Bond Street).
- Villars, Switzerland: Villars’ Christmas market isn’t just a one-day event – it’s a celebration that carries on into the New Year! The festive atmosphere here is next to nothing with musical performances and you might even catch a glimpse of that jolly old man in red on Christmas Day.
For more of the best resorts where traditional Christmas markets are as much of a draw as skiing visit SNO’s ski blog.
Embrace The Christmas Traditions Of The Region You’re Visiting
Every region has its unique Christmas traditions, and embracing these can add a whole new dimension to your holiday. Whether it’s attending midnight mass in a centuries-old church in Italy, joining a torchlight procession down the slopes in Switzerland, or enjoying a traditional ‘julebord’ (Christmas buffet) in Norway, these experiences can create lasting memories. Before you travel, research the local customs and festivities of your chosen destination and plan to participate in them.
Enjoy A Boxing Day Winter Wonderland Walk
The Boxing Day Walk; a time tradition honoured by over-stuffed families, filled up on turkey and mince pies up. For many, Boxing Day wouldn’t be Boxing Day without a wander. If your Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a walk, then consider choosing a ski resort which is also known for it’s winter walks. Nothing feels more invigorating than a winter wonderland walk, with snow crunching under your feet and a magnificent mountain range beyond after over indulging. Moreover, it will give you something to talk about on next year’s walk.
The Bottom Line
Can it really be Christmas without a family meltdown? The answer is a resounding yes. Break with family tradition for the first time, feel liberated, exhilarated with a Christmas ski holiday.
But if you can’t wait until then to hit the slopes, then check out our rundown of the best European ski resorts that are open for summer skiing. We’ll see you at the ski lift!