Let’s face it, who here has been dreaming of an escape from the usual dull grey weather of England and replacing it with a winter wonderland in the Alps? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, mulled wine sipping underneath a blanket of twinkling stars...
Picturesque ski resorts are arguably some of the best locations to spend the holidays in. After a long day of skiing you can kick back with Inghams and enjoy a completely hands-free Christmas for you and your loved ones.
Here are some of our favourite resorts to spend Christmas in (in Europe and beyond), along with our hand-picked selection of catered chalets and hotels. Pack your bags and head to the centre of Christmas celebrations for the most memorable festive fun you’ll have for years... And we’ll take care of the cooking!
1. Avoriaz, France
When: Week leading up to Christmas 2015
We start our list of best resorts for Christmas time with Avoriaz in France. You can expect to see a breathtaking festival of fire lanterns ascend into the ink black sky one night, plenty of colourful fireworks, and even an ice carving competition! Roasted chestnuts are served on the streets, there is also carol singing and spectacular festive performances at the mountain base stations.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas however without the arrival of the one and only Father Christmas. Enjoy the big festive parade as St. Nicholas rides his sleigh into town- guaranteed to be a real treat for kids, teens and adults of all ages!
Don’t miss: The ski instructors of the resort will put on a show of ascending the mountain holding fire-lit torches above their heads! Definitely not the one to miss!
Inghams recommends: Sit back and enjoy a hands-free Christmas courtesy of Inghams. In the Chalet Fleurie you can enjoy an intimate environment for you and your family. The chalet is conveniently located to the ski slopes so that you can ski in/ ski out from the doorstep, which is perfect for making the most of the pistes during the holidays.
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2. Val d’Isère, France
When: 20th-26th December 2015
Each and every resort has its own unique way of celebrating Christmas which include plenty of events for all the family, whatever their age. Despite being one of the best Alpine resorts for skiing and snowboarding, Val d’Isère has also made it onto this list for being one of the best resorts for Christmas, too!
You can expect an enormous exhibition of snow and ice sculptures in the town, as well as plenty of firework displays and lighting installations. Performances of all sorts: from theatrical pantomimes, to a daring display of fire and snow on the mountain. There is also plenty of live music on the streets and outside the tourism office, fireworks and carol singing in the church.
Father Christmas also makes a guest appearance on Christmas Eve, and invites all the children to come and visit him.
Don’t miss: A real hidden gem is the traditional Nativity scene sculpted out of snow just outside the church of St Bernard de Menthon.
Inghams recommends: You can enjoy the exceptional service and quality provided by the Chalet Hotel Le Savoie in Val d’Isère. Just a 3 minute walk away from the main ski lifts in the village, spacious bedrooms and suites, a spa, and special Christmas and New Years menus from the restaurant. Enjoy your Christmas from the comfort of this fabulously stylish chalet hotel.
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3. Zell am See, Austria
When: Begins 29th November until Christmas Day.
The Christmas festivities at Zell am See are a real treat. The whole town comes to life with incredible festive lighting in every nook and cranny, and even more lighting installations scattered across the darkness of the lake, turning it into a reflective treat for the eyes.
But it’s not just the lighting that shines bright at night that makes the town magical at this time of year, there is also the thriving and popular Magical Christmas Market selling toys, spicy mulled wine, freshly baked sweeties and goodies, roasted nuts and plenty of hand-made gifts and trinkets to take home with you.
An old Alpine tradition is still alive and well at the Krampus Procession... beware all children who have been naughty, not nice! Krampus is an evil and hideous goblin who rears his ugly head at Christmas to punish children who have been badly behaved over the year. But fear not, because Father Christmas is always there to keep Krampus at bay! The Krampus Procession is a piece of real Alpine tradition and not the one to miss.
Don’t miss: There is another quirky tradition is also still practiced in Zell am See on Christmas day, and this is called ‘Christmas Tree Diving’! An entire Christmas tree is sunken 15 metres deep into the freezing cold Lake Zell and divers of the Water Rescue Association put on a big performance and display of diving to the depths and bringing it back up again! Accompanied by festive music, the tree is bought back to the shore of the lake.
Inghams recommends: Enjoy a real down-to-earth family welcome at the Hotel Berner in Zell am See. This is a family run establishment and also exclusive to Inghams, they offer a festive Christmas breakfast and gala dinner. The hotel also boasts a heated outdoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and a relaxation room with panoramic views.
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4. Mayrhofen, Austria
When: Takes place on Fridays and weekends from the 4th December until Christmas.
If the hustle and bustle of Christmas sometimes gets ahead of you, and all you want is peace, quiet and sereneness... then look no further. The Forest Festival Area in Mayrhofen really does hark back to the silent night we picture in all of our white Christmases!
Bring the kids, or go hand-in-hand with your loved one, enjoy this tranquil winter wonderland nestled in the woods just outside of the village of Mayrhofen. In the Forest Festival Area you can expect to hear carol singing, brass band music and the local choir performing. Don’t forget to grab a cup of mulled wine and a bag of roasted chestnuts as you enjoy the open fires and glittering lights in the trees. For the little ones, there is a small petting zoo where they can meet some of the friendly local animals, and numerous arts and crafts groups where they can decorate biscuits and more.
Don’t miss: Indulge in a bit of Austrian tradition. Over here in the UK it is jolly St. Nicholas who brings us presents on Christmas Eve, whereas in many places across Europe they believe that a small, angel-like child, Christkind, is the bringer of presents. On the 19th December is the ‘Christkindl’ procession, you can expect many beautiful candles lighting up the dark.
Inghams recommends: At Chalet Tirol you can expect a warm and welcoming stay with your Inghams host. Comfortable and convenient bedrooms with en suite facilities, each room opens out onto its own balcony. Skiers and snowboarders can also enjoy a buffet breakfast and a 4 course dinner with wines and coffee for afterwards.
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5. Jackson Hole, USA
When: 21st-28th December 2015
There are more ways than one to achieve that picturesque white Christmas! As food for thought, we suggest hopping over the pond to the U.S.A for a traditional Wild-West Christmas at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Traditionally, the bigger festival that is celebrated in the U.S.A is Thanksgiving. However, once all the Thanksgiving celebrations have been put away for another year, Jackson Hole celebrates the beginning of the Christmas season with the Town Square Lighting on November 27th.
Once the snow sets in, the resort opens and the ski season begins, there is a great variety of events happening in Teton Village at the base of Jackson Hole resort. You can enjoy a peaceful and romantic evening of carol singing in the Tenton Village commons, a horse-drawn sleigh ride for couples and families, and a day for kids with the winter scavenger hunt and sledding on Boxing Day.
Children can also enjoy a Santa Letter Writing Workshop on the 23rd December, helpers will be on hand to help children write the perfect Christmas list, and then they can give it straight to Father Christmas himself when Cowboy Santa shows up!
Don’t miss: Even Santa Claus has to kick back and relax sometimes. You can catch the jolly old man himself indulging in a bit of Christmas Day skiing on the Teewinot slope, and everyone is invited to join him!
Inghams recommends: You can really settle in and enjoy your stay in Jackson Hole at The Wort Hotel. This 4-star hotel offers some fantastic deals for Inghams customers, including early bird booking offers (save up to £120 if you book before the 31st September), a bottle of wine in your room upon your arrival and private shuttle buses to and from the slopes (depart 8:30am and return 4:30pm). The hotel also has two indoor hot tubs and a fitness suite.
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6. Levi, Lapland
When: The best time of year to visit Santa Claus is... Christmas!
And finally, we have saved the best for the last.
A promise of a completely unforgettable Christmas: what could be better than seeing Father Christmas in his home of Lapland? Inghams offer some exclusive trips up to the town of Levi in Lapland, where the snow is thick and white, the Northern Lights dance overhead, the skiing is pristine and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer is right at home in his natural element.
How would you like to spend an afternoon with the elves? Visiting one of Santa’s workshops, making gingerbread and meeting Comet the reindeer? And the highlight of the day, of course, is the opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself.
You’re never too old for a little bit of Father Christmas magic, and this is definitely the trip that children won’t forget for a long, long time.
Don’t miss: While you’re at it, why not take a moment to enjoy the famous Northern Lights? The aurora borealis is a breathtaking natural phenomenon that occurs in these far-north regions where lights of many different hues and shades dance across the sky. Once seen, never forgotten.
Inghams recommends: Stay at the Crazy Reindeer Hotel for a bit of reindeer-themed humour! This hotel has rooms suitable for families of every shape and size, as well as cosy suites for couples, and is conveniently close to ski lifts and you are spoilt for choice with 5 restaurants, 2 bars, a nearby nightclub, spa, gym and free WiFi. The hotel also spoils their Inghams guests that stay for Christmas with a delicious Christmas feast!
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