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best for christmas atmosphere?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
hi

we are planning our first ski trip at christmas this year, never been that time of year before, so where's the best place/country for a good festive atmosphere?

we've done italy numerous times, so wouldn't mind trying somewhere new, we are both fairly decent intermediate skiers..... open to all suggestions? just don't want to end up anywhere that's sole-less and has zero christmas-vibe!

cheers
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
in my experience French Ski resorts are good places to avoid Christmas, but New Year is better there. So maybe not France.
Not everyone celebrates Christmas as we do in the UK. In the States it's really OTT to my mind and to most Europeans it's the religious side which is important. I'd be interested to see what others have to say here.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I thought France was cancelling Christmas? It's all doom and gloom.
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trouble is, the proper traditional villages (whether in Austria or France) where the atmosphere would be more Christmassy are also at lower altitude so are far from snow-sure at Christmas. It depends how important resort-level snow is for you, I suppose. I have spent several Christmases in France and enjoyed the atmosphere (special events, Father Christmas in a sleigh, busy buzzy shops open late on Christmas Eve etc) but do remember watching one very good Christmas Eve on-snow show (with telemarkers in traditional dress etc etc) in light drizzle which felt very British.

However, one reason I like spending Christmas in a French ski resort is to be able to pay very little attention to Christmas, watch no telly and escape all the cr*p, so I wouldn't seek out anywhere too Disneyish in its enthusiasm. wink
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
cbowls30, Wagrain in Austria has a superb Christmas atmosphere helped by the fact that it is the home village and final resting place of the author of Silent Night. They do not go overboard in a kitschy way, but the atmosphere is very "Christmasy" without being tacky. Christmas Eve is the big event, Christmas Day and Boxing Day being the days that people travel to the resorts so they are not always that full. Other nice places for atmosphere at that time of year are Radstadt (the town is magical) and Zell am See. In Tirol, Serfus is lovely as is Alpbach (with the new lift going in that is going to be amazing as it creates a great interlinked area), Neustift near Innsbruck to name just a few. On the other side of the Brenner in Südtirol the town of Sterzing (Vitopeno is the Italian name I think) is gorgeous in Advent and at Christmas and the skiing is also good.

As for the snow in lowly Wagrain, I have never been disappointed yet and that is in over 20 years of going each and every Christmas to this area. It is ideally placed in the heart of the original Sportworld Amadé region (St Johann-Alpendorf/Wagrain/Flachau).

To be quite honest an awful lot of BS is talked about height and relative length of the season. Height is not everything, location is the more important, as is aspect in terms of position relative to the prevailing weather systems. Yes in the far western Alps you do need to go high to counter the moderating influence of the maritime climates. But the further east you go and the further from the maritime influences, then the better the chances of having snow lying lower and earlier.
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Quote:

to most Europeans it's the religious side which is important

Since when?
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cbowls30, Christmas is I think on Tuesday this year which means you may be arriving on Saturday 22 or Sunday 23 December? A lot of Austrian places (I'm not sure about elsewhere, but I presume Sud Tirol will have them?) will have Christmas markets up to Christmas Eve. These tend to be traditional with huts selling wooden decorations, food and gluhwein.

Kitzbuhel, Lech, St Anton, Zell am See and Schladming all have them. Actually I suspect most Austrian places have them, that's just where I happen to have been before Christmas. As for snow I've had Christmas snow in all those places down to village level, more often than not, but you can't guarantee it (2006/2007 was poor, with very little snow across the Alps).

Some links:

http://www.kitzbuehel.com/en/events/topevents/detail/advent/
http://www.schladming-dachstein.at/en/pichl-reiteralm/infomationen-a-z/market-at-schladmings-mountain-x-mas_l1175

Of course you could also arrange your trip to include a visit to the advent markets in Salzburg or Innsbruck if you wanted to see some of the big Christmas markets.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Wed 9-05-12 7:49; edited 1 time in total
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I've skied at Christmas for the last 20 years and have noticed that the celebrations and firework displays have moved to New Year rather than Christmas Eve. The ski schools always give out free gluwein although even this is getting more of a scrum as more people start to know about it. The advertising for these events is always low key and, because it is so early in the season the reps never seem to know what is going on so you need to find out at the local tourist office.

Avoriaz, with its snowy streets (assuming it snows) and horse drawn sleighs is very "Christmassy" and they had a great firework show. Whether that is still the case I'm afraid I don't know as it was 6 years since I was there.
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pam w wrote:
trouble is, the proper traditional villages (whether in Austria or France) where the atmosphere would be more Christmassy are also at lower altitude so are far from snow-sure at Christmas.
Lost track of how many years I've been going to "low" places in Austria for Christmas and/or New Year but I cannot remember EVER being without snow at resort level and with Christmassy effect in full glow. And there is a difference between "low" French resorts and "low" Austrian ones and that's called basic geography. How many times do we have to kill this myth on this forum?
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Like pam w, one reason I like skiing over christmas is to get away from the over the top atmosphere in the UK. The "must have turkey and christmas pudding and watch the telly" stuff. In the past I have found both Austria and France excellent for this. Last Christmas eve (the big day of celebration) I was just walking to the shop to collect my order in Arc 1600 and caught the ESF descent along with free vin chaud and piped music amid gently falling snow flakes. It was lovely and about as much as I could take.cbowls30, go skiing almost anywhere over Christmas and you will really like it. And it is cheeper than New Year.
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Quote:

How many times do we have to kill this myth on this forum?

It's not a myth (and yes, I do know about the difference between continental and oceanic climates, thanks). Normally snow is fine, but not always and it's worth people being warned that snow at resort level in the very early season is less likely in lower altitude resorts. I don't know why people get their knickers in quite such a defensive twist about this.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

How many times do we have to kill this myth on this forum?

It's not a myth (and yes, I do know about the difference between continental and maritime climates, thanks). Normally snow is fine, but not always and it's worth people being warned that snow at resort level in the very early season is less likely at lower altitudes. There can be freak weather conditions where a mountain at 2500m will have less snow than the same mountain at 900m but the reverse is more likely to be true. I don't know why people get their knickers in quite such a defensive twist about this. 2006/7 was, as nozawaonsen notes, particularly poor but it's not the only year. I have had VERY poor snow conditions in both Austria and France in early January. Let's not have this thread turn into another tedious Austria vs France effort.
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thanks for the advice all, i think we will probably try and leave it as late as possible to book and see where the snow is, we've got the time off work anyway so can leave it late..... not sure about whether to book with a TO and do a chalet, we normally go independently because we like the freedom -- we quite like giving austria a go so maybe we shall look at a couple of the places suggested....... thanks
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Wagrain was really good last year for our group. Loads of local events celebrating xmas.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
johnE,
Quote:

one reason I like skiing over christmas is to get away from the over the top atmosphere in the UK. The "must have turkey and christmas pudding and watch the telly" stuff. In the past I have found both Austria and France excellent for this.

I spent Christmas in Lech once and understated it was not. I'd rather have the turkey, Christmas pudding and telly than the superabundance of schmaltz that was on display. You got a sugar rush just by being there! Shocked Maybe that's not typical of Austria as a whole? The only part of France where I have spent numerous Christmases is northern Provence: yes, it is fairly understated there, but again I don't know if that's typical.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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cbowls30, i'd second Austria! They really seam to do a great job at Christmas!

Kersh
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Lizzard wrote:
Quote:

to most Europeans it's the religious side which is important

Since when?


Since beer became a religion. Madeye-Smiley
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
any opinions on flachau? have checked out the wagrain area of the ski amande etc and looks great...... we love tree lined runs and looks perfect for us.....
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cbowls30, the autobahn that runs through it isn't very Christmassy. I'd prefer Altenmarkt or Wagrain.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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ah... didn't notice that!! good point! will go back to looking at wagrain then!
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cbowls30, Wagrain will give you more of the real village atmosphere to be honest and also less hassle. The Flachau slopes fill up very quickly with day trippers from Salzburg and Bavaria so it gets very crowded above the middle area top of the Achter Jet). The actual resort in the valley is a bit strung out and apart from the very small original part stuck between the river and the autobahn, most of the village is accommodation built since the 70s and 80s. As you said you wanted Christmas atmosphere, I think you will find more of it in Wagrain than Flachau. The new developments in Wagrain are more out of the village but the lifts go from the edge of the old village, so you have more accommodation near the lifts and in the original village.

The skiing is the same - you can access the slopes of Flachau from the Flying Mozart lift or the Rote 8er in Möadorf. The buses linking the lift base stations are brilliant and almost continuous. If they finish the 3S lift they are putting between the middle station of the Flying Mozart and the Graffenberg Express, it will also mean easier movement between all the areas as well as less traffic in the village as the buses will not need to run as often from between those two lifts. They may then actually increase the number of buses going up to Kleinarl which will be good - the lifts there link directly into the Flachauwinkel lift system and then over to Zauchensee.
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lap land may be cool if you fancy some cross country skiing Puzzled
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
great advice thanks, definately liking the sound of wagrain, any suggestions of good places to stay? not too far from lifts??
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Take a look at the Ski Amadé web site and limit your choice to Wagrain to show the price range. There are hotels in all the ranges to be honest and getting around the village on foot or on the buses is no real hassle.

[Edited to correct a typpo]


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Fri 11-05-12 11:29; edited 1 time in total
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Avoid Heavenly in Lake Tahoe (and probably other similar USA resorts). Great skiing, but the most un-Christmassy Christmas we have ever spent. Most people were locals on day passes who go home after a day on the slopes, so almost zero apres ski.

Not on the skiing theme, but New York is also a disappointing place to spend Christmas Day. It may be crazy in the build up, but it is dead on Christmas day! We were able to walk down the middle of fifth avenue in the middle of the afternoon, with no danger of being run over!
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all great advice - thanks everyone, got some good ideas, definately think we are going for austria, probably package - hopefully gaining some other brits with similar christmas vibe!!, will leave it last minute and head for snow!!
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

Not on the skiing theme, but New York is also a disappointing place to spend Christmas Day.

OK it has been quite a while since I have spent Christmas day in the UK, but my memory is that it is completely dead on Christmas day. The streets look like something out of the day of the triffids. One of the reasons why I like to be out of the country.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Skied last christmas on the Sella Ronda, stayed in Possa Di Fassa. Christmas eve seemed like the main celebration, christmas day was 9am start as usual for the Italians.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
homers double, hi, yeh, we have family who live italy and its really all about 'the coming of the king' i.e xmas eve.............
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
what about soll?? like the look of the extent, anybody recommend anywhere to stay? what's soll like as a town???
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