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Early-Season Ski Holidays: How, Why and Where

The ski season in Europe generally begins in late November and ends in late April – and most of us can hardly wait to get out there on the slopes!

Those who head to the French, Austrian and Italian Alps for a ski holiday before Christmas can enjoy virtually deserted pistes, a pleasant lack of lift queues, less crowded restaurants and lower overall prices, including great deals on accommodation and lift passes. Snow conditions can be great in some resorts if you pick wisely.

Below we’ve listed more reasons to head for the pistes for some early-season skiing as well as some tips for choosing a resort and getting the best out of your holiday.

• Book a resort that has a good record for early-season snow – a higher resort with a great chance of a big dump before Christmas and/or excellent snow cannons. Tignes has brilliantly reliable early snow conditions (national ski teams often train here ‘off season’) for all levels due to its altitude, its snowmaking and its glacier skiing. See our blog on our early-season ski holidays with Snoworks, staying at the Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin.

• Neighbouring Val d’Isère is also known for its long season – and linking up with Tignes, it forms the mighty Espace Killy area with around 300km of pistes and 94 lifts. Val d’Isère also has a packed schedule of winter events.

• Resorts are lively as they gear up for Christmas, with decorations going up and special events that are guaranteed to get you all excited about the festive season. In St Anton in Austria, for instance, visitors arriving for the grand seasonal resort opening in early December can enjoy the quirky tradition of Krampalaur Lauf or the Krampus Devil’s Run, whereby locals in devil costumes and carved masks go on a crazed run through the streets. See this Youtube video to get a flavour of this uniquely bizarre event.

• Alternatively, book a last-minute ski holiday after keeping an eye on snow conditions

• Lastly, bear in mind that if you go before Christmas, there’s time to fit in two ski holidays this season!

See Mark Warner’s current ski holiday offers.

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