Situated between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the Portes du Soleil has long been a firm favourite amongst British holidaymakers in search of world-class ski conditions, with 600km of riding and 190 lifts under one convenient pass. Spanning the Alpine areas of French Chablais and Swiss Valais, encompassing two countries and 12 resorts, the region offers a varied choice of slopes and terrain, with just about every discipline of ski and snowboarding possible. What’s more, the area boasts a rich cultural history and has an enviable array of quality accommodation options and superb restaurants. The Portes du Soleil, or ‘Gateway to the Sun’, also has an impressive and varied events calendar, which expands each year and caters to a range of tastes and budgets. Whether seeking great food, high-octane sports competitions or the best music festivals, we pick 10 events not to be missed this winter.
The 2020 Youth Winter Olympic Games comes to the Swiss city of Lausanne 9-22 January. It is the third edition of the event and features a range of sports tournaments and cultural festivals for teenagers aged 15 to 18 from all over the world. In all, 71 nations will compete, including Great Britain, across eight sports and 16 disciplines, with the Portes du Soleil resort of Champéry set to host the Olympic curling competitions. During the period, Champéry will play host to the athletes and spectators, with a programme of special entertainment laid on throughout the Swiss village.
The Welsh Alpine Championships 2020 will descent on the Portes du Soleil 18-25 January, with the 14th edition of the much-loved ski event scheduled to take place in Champéry and the Swiss resort of Val d’Illiez – les Crosets – Champoussin. The week will involve high-profile competitions across a range of disciplines and includes dedicated categories for children. Registration for the championships, which last year attracted 160 competitors, is now underway with full programme details available on the Snowsport Wales website.
The Essert Super Slalom returns for its second edition in the French resort of Abondance on 19 January 2020. The event, which is organised by The Ski Club and the ESF of Abondance, sees participates of all ages take to the slopes to compete in action packed races, alongside live music and open-air dining. The competition, in which some participants wear fancy-dress, takes place in a fun and relaxed atmosphere with plenty of prizes offer, welcoming skiers of abilities. For more details and to register contact the Ski Club of Abondance.
The European Cup for Women’s Alpine Skiing will take place in the beautiful French resort or Morzine 29-30 January 2020, the competition is the gateway to the World Cup, with established competitors racing alongside new talent. The village, which has a long history of hosting prestigious ski competitions, will welcome some of the world’s best women skiers, when the contenders on the FIS circuit will compete on the Pléney piste. The slalom finish line is in the heart of Morzine, allowing spectators to get up close and personal with all the action.
The Portes du Soleil is well known for its gastronomic excellence, and the Neiges Etoilées Festival in the charming French resort of Châtel provides holidaymakers with the opportunity to sample Alpine dining at its finest. Now in its eighth year and set to take place 4-8 February 2020, Neiges Etoilées is an annual food festival which sees the region’s leading chefs compete, showcasing their finest culinary flavours across a range of cooking styles and cuisine types. Perhaps best known for its mouth-watering pastry, the event includes workshops, live demonstrations, cooking classes, gourmet banquets and more.
MorzineTakes Care of You is a dedicated wellness-week, that will take in Morzine 9-14 March 2020. Providing holidaymakers with the opportunity to rest, recharge and reboot, the programme consists of a range of yoga, massage, spa and well-being activities and workshops that will take place at a variety of locations throughout the picturesque village. Offering serenity in the heart of the mountains, the six-day event is all about disconnecting from the pressures of modern life and reconnecting with nature.
The Portes du Soleil is preparing for the tenth edition of Rock the Pistes, the original music festival in the mountains and the only event of its kind with concerts on the slopes. With more than 28,000 music fans expected to descend on the region 15-21 March 2020, it is the largest music festival in the Alps, featuring performances at an altitude of between 1,600m and 1,950m. The festival will comprise five live concerts and more than 30 après-ski concerts across multiple resorts on both the French and Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil. Past acts have included Rag’n’Bone Man, the Klaxons and Pete Doherty, with this year’s anniversary line-up is being hotly anticipated. Festivalgoers can ski from one performance to the next, and with entry to the concerts free to lift pass holders, revellers can enjoy the freedom to rock out where they please.
Meanwhile, dates have been announced for the eighth edition of Snowboxx, returning to the snow-sure resort of Avoriaz 1800 21-28 March 2020. The festival offers holidaymakers an eclectic range of world class DJs, igloo parties, bottomless brunches and extreme snowball fights, set against the stunning mountain backdrop of the French Alps. Spread over six stages and with input from some of the globes foremost clubbing brands, Snowboxx consistently showcases top names from the dance and urban music scenes, with previous headliners including Stormzy, Chase & Status, Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx. This year’s headline acts have been announced as Annie Mac and Andy C, with more big names to be confirmed in the coming weeks. Snowboxx offer complete festival packages, including return flights from the UK, self-catering accommodation, festival passes and airport transfers.
The Spring Lounge Music Festival is the perfect way to experience the Portes du Soleil as winter begins to melt away. The weeklong programme of gigs and concerts will take place in a variety of fun, chic and quirky venues in the lively French resort of Les Gets, 23-31 March 2020. Visitors can expect everything from wild après sessions to intimate performances over dinner, with genres ranging from hip-hop to folk and jazz. What’s more, entry to each concert is free, with shows set to take place 10am-11pm daily in bars, restaurants and dedicated outdoor spaces.
The 5th annual 7Peaks Riverstyle Show will take place in the stunning Swiss resort of Morgins, 27-28 March 2020. For two days, the best freestylers on the planet will vie for the biggest air and the most jaw-dropping stunts on a massive, 23 metre jump spanning the Vièze River. The festival also offers non-stop DJ sets, a variety of outdoor food stalls and the opportunity to enjoy kegs of 7Peaks craft beer, which is brewed in the mountains of the Portes du Soleil.
More news from the Portes du Soleil
Accommodation news: Welcoming guests from December 2019, Hotel MiL8 is the latest property to open in the Portes du Soleil resort of Avoriaz 1800. The resort’s second four-star hotel is contemporary and stylish, and facilities include a children’s playroom, a blissful wellness area featuring an infinity pool and sauna, a bar and a restaurant with a sun-drenched terrace – the ultimate relaxation spot for soaking in views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Located in the heart of the village centre and offering ski-in, ski-out convenience, the hotel is the ideal base for exploring the entire Portes du Soleil ski area.
Go to the Portes du Soleil
All 12 resorts in the Portes du Soleil can be easily accessed from Geneva Airport, which benefits from low cost, direct flight access from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds.
A seven-night stay in Avoriaz 1800 during the Snowboxx festival, arriving 21 March 2020, in a three-star studio apartment that sleeps up to four, is priced from £453 pp and includes return flights from the UK, festival passes and transfers. Snowboxx (www.snowboxx.com)
To plan your trip to the Portes du Soleil and for more information, please visit: