10 Ski Town Festivals You Don’t Want To Miss

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Ski towns know how to throw a party.

They can be highly organised festivals designed to bring ski tourists to town, or just cool parties that become a yearly event.

Big Adventure Club’s owner Iain Lygo lists 10 ski town festivals for those who like to ski hard and party harder.

1. Queenstown Winter Festival

Photo credit: Queenstown Winter Festival

When: June
Where: Queenstown, New Zealand

New Zealand’s Southern Lakes region hosts the annual Queenstown Winter Festival. This year it’s crammed into four days and includes a comedy festival, street party, nightly parties, bird man competitions, raft races, and an obstacle course race where participants compete in their undies. Whatever floats your boat NZ. For the athletes, there is uphill racing and downhill mountain bike events.

2. Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ

Photo credit: Winter Games NZ

When: August – September
Where: Southern Alps, New Zealand

The region is also hosting the Winter Games NZ, that will see a wide variety of FIS sanctioned races . Sports include freestyle skiing, snowboarding, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and curling.

Competition will be hot with athletes fine tuning their skills, or trying to qualify for the upcoming winter olympics. It’s not just serious racing. There will be plenty of big name performers keeping the crowds entertained at night.

3. Closing Day at Arapahoe Basin

Photo credit: Dave Camara

When: June
Where: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, United States

A-Basin prides itself on being the last ski resort to close in Colorado and there’s a party atmosphere in the car park at the end of every warm spring day. It’s just magnified on the last day of the season.

4. Marcialonga di Fiemme e Fassa

Photo credit: Marcialonga

When: January
Where: Campestrin, Italy

For the athletes, Italy’s Marcialonga di Fiemme e Fassa is a world famous cross country race that attracts 7500 athletes. It’s serious so don’t think you can just rock up, strap on some skate skis and finish the 70kms.

5. The Val Gardena downhill and Super G

 

When: December
Where: Val Gardena, South Tyrol, Italy

The Val Gardena downhill and Super G, in the Italian Dolomites is regarded as the toughest ski race of the season. Skiers hit 160km/h + and the best viewing is at the Camel Hunches jump. It’s a world cup event so expect some serious partying when the racing is done.

6. Griz Days

When: March
Where: Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

I’ve written about Fernie’s Griz Days festival before. Go if you can, especially if you can drink lots of beer and eat dangerously unhealthy amounts of bacon in a dangerous short space of time. Fernie, Canada’s British Columbia at it’s best.

7. FreeBOM Day

When: August
Where: Mt Buller, Australia

Australian ski resorts don’t really do multi-day festivals but opening day parties are huge at any of the resorts, (even if the grass is still visible on the runs). Mt Buller is a pretty good place to party in the spring with a pond skim, 80s day, and FreBOM Day.

8. Winterskol, Gay Ski Week and X Games

Photo credit: X Games Aspen

When: January
Where: Aspen, Colorado, United States

It’s actually hard to go to Aspen and miss a major event. In January you can do back-to-back-to-back festivals. Winterskol is a community festival that dates back to 1951. This is immediately followed by Gay Ski Week and the X Games.

9. Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival

Photo Credit: Nozawa-Onsen

When: January
Where: Nozawa Onsen, Nagano, Chūbu, Japan

I researched this article at the Melbourne Ski Travel Exhibition. The Japanese stand said their ice carving festival is world famous. I asked them if they had anything a little more edgy and rad. They said I should write about the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival because “people have died during it”. Looks fun, just don’t wear a nice new highly flammable puffer jacket.

10. Jasper in January

Photo credit: Frosty’s Fat Bike Race

When: January
Where: Jasper, Alberta, Canada

It’s not often a ski town has a month long festival but Jasper in January is just that. This small Canadian town is one of the friendliest places on the planet. Jasper in January is a classic town festival that has something for everyone.

It really is an eclectic mix of events. The National Parks hold multiple activities for people of all ages, there’s a street party, fancy dress slalom races for seniors, an avalanche safety course, fat bike races, and of course curling (because it’s Canada eh). An added bonus is lift tickets at nearby Marmot Basin are 25% off in January.

Read more about Aspen vs Arapahoe Basin Resort and snow festivals in Japan.

Feature Photo credit: Neil Kerr via Winter Games NZ

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Iain Lygo

With a double degree in accounting and finance, Iain Lygo has successfully avoided an office job all his life. He has just launched Big Adventure Club. This adventure travel club has 6-8 epic tours a year including motor bike trekking in the Himalayas, surfing in Indonesia, back country skiing in BC, Mountain biking from Colorado to Utah, and road biking in France.

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