Whether you’re a complete beginner who wants to sample the world of skiing and snowboarding before you commit to a holiday to the Alps... or you simply can’t get enough of your favourite sport, sometimes visiting a skiing and snowboarding centre here at home is the quick, fun fix you need, that can also save you bundles of cash. They present perfect opportunities to spruce up your skills before heading out to the mountains, as well as meeting plenty of other like minded people. We’ve complied this nifty guide to help you find the closet centre to you, and if you feel up for the challenge, then there are some unique skiing and snowboarding opportunities on UK ground... read on!
London and South East
Chiswick, Reading & Basingstoke
To start this list off we have one of the most unusual, but perhaps one of the most innovative places to learn how to ski and snowboard. Skiplex Indoor Ski Slopes are very literally a large treadmill where the inclination of the slope and the speed can all be adjusted with a remote control!
Skiing and snowboarding beginners benefit from being able to hold onto a hand rail as they get their bearings and enjoy the undivided attention of a personal ski instructor (you only share your section of ski slope with one other skier/boarder and you have the attentions of an instructor between the two of you). This can help you improve your confidence very quickly because you are always in control.
For anyone looking to improve their ability, the moving slope can be inclined to stimulate the speed and steepness of blue and black runs and you can observe yourself in action in the wide mirrors at the front of the room so that you can correct any errors in your technique. If you book your ski trip with Inghams before the 30th November 2015, you can benefit from a FREE 1-hour session at the Skiplex for 3 skiers/snowboarders. A great way to find your ski legs again before the season starts!
The Snow Centre
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Definitely one of the more famous snow centres in the UK and a favourite amongst Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic team, The Snow Centre is cold enough for you to enjoy real snow under your feet. Built onto the side of a hill, there are two button lifts inside of the centre that carry you up to the highest point, and then there is a relatively easy slope back down to the bottom.
There are two separate areas- one smaller and much gentler that is primarily reserved for beginners and those having lessons, and then the main recreational area. Equipment hire is included in your lift pass / lesson price and covers the rental of equipment and clothing if necessary.
The Snow Centre offers some excellent beginner lessons for all ages, either in groups or privately with a 1-on-1 instructor. There are also lessons for improving ability, rehabilitation after an injury and freestyle tuition for those looking for a thrill. There is also fun to be had with tobogganing and snow-tubing with an action-packed calendar all year around, and The Lodge, a fully licensed alpine-themed bar overlooks all the action from the balcony.
The Alpine Snowsports Centre
The Alpine Snowsports Centre in Southampton is part of the nationwide scheme ‘Active Nation’, a scheme designed to get kids and adults alike being active again. The scheme incorporates a variety of venues and centres across the UK that specialise in different sports. With an action packed schedule at the centre, there is a little something for everyone.
You are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to lessons that are available at the centre. From ‘Discovery’ sessions for complete beginners, followed up with ‘Guaranteed to Ski & Snowboard’ courses, through to ‘Re-Discover Ski’ sessions, the centre really goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to organising lessons for you.
There is also open recreational use of the slope, and a ‘Freestyle Friday’ club for those of you with an interest in pushing your abilities. Private 1-2-1 tuition is available in freestyle if you want to learn some basic park tricks too.
There is also snow-tubing available at the centre (aka donutting), which can be great alternative fun to skiing and snowboarding, and the centre regularly hosts parties and calendar events to get involved in.
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Plymouth Ski Slope and Snowboard Centre
Plymouth Ski Slope and Snowboard Centre boasts of the longest artificial slope in the South West and the centre is easily accessible from Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.
Like many other open air dry slope centres, there are lessons on site offering tuition for complete beginners through to improvement lessons for intermediates. There are ski lessons offered for young children (ages 4-7), and during the school holidays the centre runs skiing and snowboarding programmes for kids.
The three long slopes are also open for recreational use for 1.5 hour sessions during allocated times but you must be a competent skier/snowboarder (fulfilling the minimum skill levels as determined by the slope staff) before you can use the slopes unaided. The centre also has a 650m long toboggan run that is guaranteed to get your blood pumping, and there is also snow-tubing on the slopes which can be an excellent fun day out for the whole family.
Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre
The Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre is a dry slope... with a twist! There is more to do than skiing and snowboarding than there is to do at the average dry terrain ski and snowboard centre with Snoxross Bikes available for hire, snow-tubing fun to be had, and a fantastic slalom and freestyle skiing and snowboarding night occurring on Friday evenings (with discounted entry!).
Beginner skiing and snowboarding lessons are time tabled every day, conveniently happening outside of the school and work hours, and the centre offers packaged ‘learn to ski/ snowboard’ deals which equip you with the basics needed for your first trip to the mountains.
There are weekend ski and board lessons for children and holiday camps running during the term time breaks and the centre also runs party packages for both adults and children. Other courses available at the centre include First Aid courses and well as ski and snowboard instructor training with Snowsport England.
The centre also brings out a large AirBag for freestyle training on Wednesday’s- a perfect opportunity to practise your freestyle skills with a safe landing! The centre has an action packed calendar all year round whatever the weather that sees the likes of slalom racing, BBQ weekends, competitions and other fun activities.
The Snowtrax Alpine Adventure Centre brings that little bit of the Alps to this quiet corner of Dorset. There is a lovely bar and restaurant on site serving delicious food and drink whilst overlooking the extensive dry slopes and there is also the Alpine Adventure Park for children: an action-packed outdoor recreation area set in the woods with ziplines, slides, forts, trampolines and more.
Beginner lessons are on offer for complete novices, whatever your age, with detailed and planned programmes for children, and scheduled weekly lessons for adults that will have you carving powder in no time.
Freestyle nights are commonplace at the centre, with competitions with prizes including the bi-annual ‘Air Attack’ competition. Anyone at an intermediate level of skiing or boarding (and higher) are welcome to have an introduction to freestyle night with a taster session, followed by lessons and coaching.
A great sense of community resides at the centre with home teams including the Masters Slalom, Team Snowtrax, race teams for adults (categories include men/women 30s/40s/50s etc.) who compete against other teams across Britain once a year.
There is also an on-site ski shop selling all the gear that you need for your trip to the Alps, and is very well stocked with high-end brands for equipment and clothing.
East of England
Norfolk Snow Sports Club
Home of the Farmers’ Jam Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Festival, the Norfolk Snow Sports Club boasts of excellent facilities for skiers and snowboarders of any level. The club is open to all newcomers seeking lessons with sessions with professional instructors happening daily for novices looking to improve on their skills.
Taster sessions are available for beginners who aren’t sure about committing to a course of lessons, and are designed around your age, schedule and ability.
Although the doors of the club are open for members and non-members alike, being a member certainly has its perks: There are regular freestyle clubs, junior clubs for children, ladies ski evenings (complete beginners welcome) and Masters Club for those above the age of 30 who take pride in their sport.
The dry slopes are open until 10pm (with open use of the facilities for recreational use) for those who want to dust off their skis and boards before the snow season comes along. There is also a fully licensed bar in The Club House serving snacks most days.
Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire
Snozone is an indoor ski and snowboard centre where you can enjoy real snow underneath your feet. They have two snow centres based in different locations across the country at Milton Keynes and Castleford where you can enjoy the delights of skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and more.
Set on a gentle slope with numerous piste features for an authentic mountain feel, the snow at Snozone is accessed by button lifts so if you wish to make the use of recreational time on the slopes, a knowledge and ability to use these lifts is essential.
The centre offers some excellent beginner lessons with trained professionals, and they boast of a wealth of experience and expertise in the industry. A few hours of instruction weekly over a course of time are all that it takes to arm you with the confidence to advance onto the more challenging levels of skiing and snowboarding.
Snozone also hosts some fantastic freestyle nights during the week (freestyle tuition available for those looking to try something new with SHRED! coaching) and have a great culture centred on this sport that has taken the snow sport world by storm.
Last but not the least, make the most of the real snow at Snozone with fun days out sledging on the slopes and sliding down the ice slide, fun-filled family sessions are available as an exciting and alternative day out.
The SnowDome in Tamworth, Staffordshire is an enormous leisure complex that is guaranteed to have something for everyone. With a large indoor piste with real snow, you can enjoy your beginner lessons and improver sessions with the real stuff under your feet.
There are lessons for adults, juniors and toddlers looking to learn how to ski and snowboard for the first time which can then be followed up with development lessons. When the right skills have been mastered, everyone at all levels can enjoy the recreational use of the slopes and there are Junior Ski and Snowboard clubs giving kids an exciting weekend and holiday activity that awards their initiative.
There is also the use of the slopes for freestyle nights on Tamland Tuesdays- where freestyle skiers and snowboarders gather to practise on the boxes and kickers installed for the evening by the SnowDome.
One of the great things about the SnowDome at Tamworth is that the fun is not restricted to skiing and snowboarding; there is also ice skating, snow- tubing, sledging, swimming, use of the gym and spa in the complex... there truly is something for everyone.
Skiing and snowboarding on the real snow at Chill Factore in Manchester once again brings you the unbeatable experience of learning your new sport in the correct setting; with real snow underneath your skis and boards to prepare you for your trip to the mountains.
Chill Factore has the longest indoor real snow slope in the UK and guarantees lessons to suit you no matter what your ability is, or how old you are. Introduction/taster sessions are available for those unsure about committing to a whole course of lessons and once the basics have been mastered there are further courses for intermediates, advanced and specialist coaching available.
Kid’s ski and snowboard clubs and camps are available after school and during the holidays and there are shred sessions for those with a keen interest in freestyle. Recreational freestyle nights are held regularly and are open to any advanced skier and snowboarder looking to try something different.
Also available in the Chill Factore complex is the Snow Park where you can enjoy a spot of snow-tubing, Luge slip n slide, and sledging. There is also a Mini Mooseland for children under the age of 4, which makes a great day out for all involved. Finally, there is a fun climbing wall that is open to the public with day climbing packages available for children and there is climbing tuition available for those looking to gain interest in a new sport!
Another fantastic venue for learning to ski or snowboard on dry slope, the Ski Rossendale centre in Lancashire has become a hub in the local area for skiing and snowboarding since it opened its doors in the 1960s. The centre is also a great place for rehabilitation following sports injuries with an expert physiotherapy practise on site, part of the Alpine Lodge Wellness Centre.
Beginner lessons for all ages and abilities are available and include a taster session for those on the fence about committing to a full course of skiing and snowboarding lessons. The slopes are also open for recreational use providing that you meet the standard ability requirements, and there are some fantastic perks of being a member at the club.
Various clubs and societies exist at the centre including the Ski Rossendale Race Club, Advance Ski Technique group sessions, and the Gryffin Snowsports Club which is an independently run family orientated ski club that helps children, teens and adults learn new skills and enhance their technique.
There is a quarter pipe feature for those interested in freestyle and also a large ‘fun park’ available on the main slope for advanced skiers and snowboarders to come and try their freestyle moves out!
Cardiff Ski and Snowboard Centre
A “superb” dry slope with equally excellent staff, the Cardiff Ski and Snowboard Centre is conveniently located 10 minutes away from the city centre and is home to the Cardiff Ski Race Club who welcome everyone from complete beginners through to national champions in the dry slope racing scene.
Like most other ski centres in the UK, there are both private and group beginner skiing and snowboarding lessons available that’ll equip you with the skills needed to enjoy your first skiing holiday on the mountain. Lessons conveniently run in the evening after school and working hours.
As of September 2015 the Cardiff Ski and Snowboard Centre are introducing afternoon ‘Tea & Ski’ Tuesday sessions. Two hours of skiing in workshop-like conditions with tea and cake refreshments served afterwards, this is a fantastic little mid-week break for lunch times that will have you craving snow in no time.
Friday evenings at the centre are lent towards freestyle skiing and snowboarding and the venue is rapidly becoming the best place in Wales for practising your tricks. Open for children and adults alike, the centre invites anyone from an intermediate level and above to come along and enjoy themselves on the freestyle features at the park.
There is also snow-tubing available at the centre and makes a fantastic and alternative party fun for both adults and children alike.
Llandudno Ski Slope
The dry slope at Llandudno is proud to boast of the longest toboggan run in Wales! At 750m long, it is a fantastic, exhilarating fun and makes a great family day out for everyone.
But, if you’ve come for the skiing and snowboarding at the Llandudno Ski Slope then you’ll be pleased to know that they offer skiing lessons (both private and group) for adults, children and toddlers, and snowboarding lessons for adults and children. They also offer instructor training at the centre and you will receive a full qualification at the end of the 13-week course.
Freestyle Friday’s are a popular calendar fixture at the centre, and they invite any skier or snowboarder from an intermediate/advanced level and above to come and try out their skills.
Also on the site is a mini-golf course, snow-tubing, and the Alpine Lodge fully licensed bar and restaurant that provides panoramic views of the main ski slope, toboggan track and the Alpine Adventure golf course.
Scotland's only indoor real snow slope, Snow Factor in Braehead is open 364 days a year and has some excellent facilities to learn to ski and snowboard on, and the fun doesn’t stop there.
Under the same roof as the extensive mock-ski slope sits the Baltic Ice Bar, wrap up warm and enjoy your frozen cocktails off frozen tables and chairs in a room that is constantly kept at -5c. Patrons are provided warm jackets for their visit.
If sipping your beverages in a futuristic ice cave doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then there is the Bar Varia restaurant and Alpine-Austrian beer hall that serves delicious food and has an extensive menu of imported beers!
Food and drink aside, Snow Factor offers some great lessons for budding snow sport beginners and they also have ‘Refresher Clinics’ where the occasional skier/snowboarder can come along and spruce up their parallel turns with the help of an informal instructor before heading out to the resort.
There is a good freestyle culture at Snow Factor with a dedicated Snow Park assembled once a week, and coaching is offered in the Rookie Park for freestyle novices. Also available at the centre are sledging and snow-tubing, and available bookings for birthday parties as well as hen and stag ‘dos!
Snow Factor is very proud of its authentic ice climbing wall, with excellent tuition for those who want to learn how to use crampons and ice picks and ascend the specially made wall. A great alternative sport that is sure to add a twist to your trip to Snow Factor!
Photo credit Mike Bell
Last but not the least, skiing in a real resort in Great Britain is possible! Travelling to the Alps to get your snow fix is no longer the case with specially built resorts in the highlands of Scotland. The snow in Glenshee is perfect for a bit of close-to-home skiing and snowboarding over the vast and expansive hills.
The resort offers mainly gentle green slopes leading to some blues and reds further up the mountains. The whole area is accessed by a network of chairlifts and poma/button surface lifts and the resort are proud to announce that they are in the process of building a brand new 3-man chair lift on the site.
Beginner lessons for all ages are offered and this is an excellent small resort to get the grips on the basics of snow sport in. Intermediate skiers can enjoy 26 blue and red runs across the resort, and advanced skiers can enjoy the two excellent black runs and the mogul hills around the resort.
Ski touring or cross-country skiing is also a favourite pastime of the people who visit Glenshee resort, and a great alternative to downhill skiing and snowboarding.