Ah, Snowboxx. Where do I begin? One second we’re getting our bearings in Avoriaz, admiring the 5-star chalets and apartments that towered over us at night, and the next we’re sprinting through Geneva airport the following Sunday. The whole festival was a dizzying blur of bright white snow, colourful lights, music, fun, laughter and tearing it up across the Portes du Soleil ski area. Everything that lay in between those days went so quickly, if you blinked, you could have missed it.
With Inghams offering chalets and accommodation within a stones throw from the après bars, lifts and main festival site, grabbing a wristband on top of your holiday is definitely worth thinking about and it opens up a whole variety of events, parties and fun throughout the week.
I had the time of my life, no doubt about it. And would I recommend it to anyone else? Of course I would! Bringing together all of the classic festival aspects and more (including snow of course), it’s immediately obvious that anyone who loves to ski and have fun should head to Snowboxx for their getaway next year. And here’s 7 reasons why...
© Geoffrey Hubbel 2016
Bit of an obvious one for any festival-goer but the music was a real highlight for this year, and is definitely the start of something big for this humble festival that began life in Andorra. Some of the artist names might escape you (they did for me) and this years line up consisted of Stormzy headlining on the Tuesday night, followed by Sigma on the Thursday and supporting acts of Blonde, Mike Skinner, Grandmaster Flash and Phil Taggart. There were further parties and secret DJ sets tucked away into nooks and crannies in bars, stretches of woodland, in the freestyle parks and more. But there is no doubt that the music creates the atmosphere; and where there’s a rhythm, there’s a way...
© Geoffrey Hubbel 2016
2. Spring skiing
I, like many others, enjoy nothing more than a well-deserved pint at the end of a hard day of skiing, better yet if that said pint can be enjoyed while basking in the sun. We were incredibly blessed with the weather we had this year at Snowboxx which took place on the 12th-19th March, with blue bird skies for several days straight, breath taking sunsets, and at one point we all mutually agreed that yes, it was t-shirt weather. Cue stripping off jackets and thermals to bare our pale arms in the Alpine sun.
Of course, we can’t predict the weather for 2017 but if this year has been anything to go by, the conditions for mid-March will hopefully be just as beautiful and mild.
© Geoffrey Hubbel 2016
3. Après ski culture galore
For some, the skiing holiday revolves around the numerous opportunities to ski right up to a bar, grab a quick drink, plonk yourself down in a sun lounger, enjoy the mountain views for an hour or so, before skiing off again. We call it après ski.
Snowboxx festival was the epitome of the après ski culture that so many cherish. As the last lifts are closing around 5pm, everyone flocked to the Snowboxx Après Terrace which sat beside the main festival ‘arena’ (for lack of a better word) where live DJ’s including One Love DJ’s, a music producer aptly named Après (yep) and more, were spinning the disks until the sun began to set.
And in fact, you could easily carry the fun on late into the evening without even having to nip home to stow your boots and skis away. Before the real party kicked in from about 7:30pm/8:00pm onwards most evenings, there were still plenty of events, parties (even some of the ‘secret’ variety) to keep you on your toes. We had the pleasure of attending the Snowboxx Igloo sessions with DJ trio Eton Messy playing an extended DJ set. Perched high on the side of the piste with stunning views over Avoriaz at night, it was a tad nippy but we can’t blame the windchill for that. We enjoyed our drinks in the comfort of the igloo, which was made up of a network of rooms and tunnels with comfy niches to sit, chill out (excuse the pun) and enjoy the music.
Go Mr. Motivator! © Geoffrey Hubbel 2016
4. Beginner-friendly good times
Being the chatty person that I am, I often find myself aimlessly talking with whoever I come to be standing next to in a queue for the shop, on the lift, on the dance floor etc. It came to my pleasant surprise that many people who were attending the festival considered themselves beginner skiers, or perhaps had never skied before. They laughed sheepishly about it when I asked if they had had a good day tearing it up on the slopes.
My perception of these festivals changed vastly in such a short space of time. Snowboxx throws open its doors to everyone, regardless of whether they’re a fully-fledged adrenaline junkie (like me), or a timid beginner on the slopes. And rightfully so- anyone thinking of attending a ski and snowboard festival should never be put off by whether they’re a strong skier or not. It was well and truly a big, loud ‘welcome to all!’
© Geoffrey Hubbel 2016
I don’t think I truly need to explain this one. Just those three words should be enough to convince any skier to jump on board the bandwagon! The Portes du Soleil ski area, which encompasses the towns of Avoriaz and Morzine, spans over 400km and is collectively made up of 14 different resorts. If the action-packed Snowboxx schedule doesn’t keep you occupied during the week then the sheer amount of skiing and snowboarding to be had in the area will!
Avoriaz sits as a perfect ‘home base’, with its quirky retro-futuristic architecture coming to life with the vibrancy and excitement of the festival. But if you fancy something a little quieter then perhaps opting to stay in some of our comfortable accommodation in the more traditional Savoyard Morzine, situated just below the town and has the main Prodains Express cable car running until 9pm at night so you won’t miss any of the music.
Another insider tidbit of information that you could only get from an Inghams girl is that despite the fact almost a thousand party-goers descend on the resort for the festival, the slopes remain surprisingly uncluttered throughout the day (I think we can thank the likes of The Yak club staying open until 5:30am!), leaving the ski fans to rise and shine early and get their snow fix. Couldn’t ask for much more could you?!
© Peter Marshall
6. Swimming pool parties!
I’ll confess I had some mixed feelings about this one when we heard about it and made subsequent plans to attend. On the one hand, it reminded me of balmy days from my childhood where a glass of orange squash would be waiting at the side of the pool, but on the other hand it harked back to my student shenanigans that I was pleased to see the back of some years ago.
But, I had heard some great things about Aquariaz, the water wonder world that sits in the middle of Avoriaz, and couldn’t resist poking my head in. ‘Just for five minutes’, I said. And we ended up staying for nearly two hours. DJ Monki and Friends playing some party music, there was a strict no drinks allowed policy in and around the indoor pool complex which made the whole event less pressured, safer and overall fun. And it was great fun! If you’re already packing your bags for Snowboxx 2017 then I would recommend you make the arrangements to go to the Aquariaz pool party to see the end of the week out with a splash.
© Geoffrey Hubbel 2016
7. Completely unabashed, unashamed and unbridled silliness.
A banana, an owl and an award winning snowboarder walk into a bar... I wish this were the start of a hilarious joke, but one of the great things about Snowboxx is that I saw that very thing actually happen! Snowboxx is already the world record holder for the number of fancy dress skiers in one place, and still holds the title for the biggest vintage ski wear party. From human skittles bowling, snowball matches in the games arena, beasts on the piste (or simply the only day when you can wear an animal costume on the slopes and not have your motives questioned!), and monkey-ing around in a jungle themed freestyle park, The Stash, the silliness and gut-busting hilarity just doesn’t stop.
Snowboxx this year paired up with the brilliant clashing blast-from-the-past Retro Rentals to fit skiers and snowboarders out in the most garish colours known to man, everyone looked straight out of the skiing heyday of the 80s in one-piece suits and wigs, headbands and leggings to match. Mr Motivator was on hand in the mornings, armed with his loudspeaker (and not to mention his neon coloured leggings), to whip all us tired and bleary eyed party goers into shape for a day of skiing.
Chewie and a Yeti together in one photo? Only a Snowboxx...! © Geoffrey Hubbel 2016
If you were filling out a profile about yourself, I’m sure plenty of people would obviously tick the box that says ‘I like to have fun’. Snowboxx festival really stands to test exactly how much fun you like to have. And there is no such thing as too much fun, right?! The energy that greeted the festival goers on the first night lasted well until the last night when everyone tearfully piled back onto the coaches to return to Geneva airport. I quite possibly had one of the best skiing holidays I’ve ever had in my life, and so recommending the festival, writing this blog and endlessly yakking about it to friends and family comes to me with great ease.
See you next year, party-goers!