Winter is coming - the nights are getting colder, and soon, we hope, snow will begin to cover the more northern parts of the globe. And the arrival of snow means, of course, that it is time to take a trip to your favourite pistes and ski resorts around Europe! Whether you are hoping to visit Austria, Switzerland, France, Norway or Sweden, there are many great ski resorts dotted all around Europe that offer ski and snowboard packages outside the main high season, and often at a reduced price.Not only are ski holidays in the months before Christmas often cheaper in Europe, but also more quiet and relaxed at the most popular resorts. Many of the best resorts also have wonderful events taking place, which are also worth considering when booking your trip.When to travel
The high season for ski holidays in Europe usually starts in December and continues until the end of April, although the season may shift a bit depending on the weather. Many think that it is very difficult to find any snow before Christmas, but this is not true. Many destinations in Europe do have snow, and travelling before Christmas allows you to enjoy a cheaper and less hectic holiday.It is a good idea to keep an eye on the weather and snow levels at your chosen destination closer to your holiday, and only book when you are confident that there will be enough snow for skiing or snowboarding. You can also monitor the weather conditions at the start of the season - a good amount snow at the beginning of the season should mean that there will be enough snow in the more wintry months, too. It is also important to make sure that your resort is indeed open before Christmas (many smaller ones are not).
Here are some of our favourite ski destinations in winter 2015:Tignes, France
The snow levels in Tignes are usually quite good, and for this reason the resort acts as a training centre for many ski teams. The ideal location of Tignes therefore ensures suitable skiing weather for much of the year, but this also makes it a slightly more expensive destination compared to the rest of our list.Val Thorens, France
Val Thorens is also known to have snowfall during the early season. The resort is also famous for its festive atmosphere and many events, such as the Rock On Snowboard Tour in November and the Skicross world championship in December, which contribute to the the resort staying busy also outside of the high season.Zermatt, Switzerland
This well-known ski resort is usually open for skiing and snowboarding year round, thanks to its elevated location and surrounding glacier. Zermatt celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2015 and is offering experienced skiers the opportunity in early winter months to test new slopes. Numerous other winter outdoor activities are also offered at the resort, including skating, sledging, and curling.Hintertux, Austria
This small Austrian resort is a very popular ski destination before the high season. However, the limited amount of accommodation available makes it necessary to book early, as the resort can become fully booked quite quickly. Hintertux is the only resort in Austria open all year, so book ahead of time especially if you are hoping to travel around Christmas.Hafjell/Kvitfjell, Norway
These two fantastic resorts in Norway usually open for visitors as early as November. At this time of year the weather tends to be well suited for winter sports, and the resort is still rather quiet. However, keep in mind that the sun sets earlier in Norway in the months before Christmas than it does in Central Europe!Are, Sweden
Are claims to be one of the biggest and most advanced ski resorts in Europe, and certainly takes the first place among resorts in Sweden. The ski season starts in November and ends in May. The resort has over 100 slopes to choose from, as well as a host of exciting events, such as the Ski & Party weekend and Vemdalen Midwinter Show, both of which take place in December.