A relatively new phenomenon to take the annual ski season by storm, winter sports festivals are the latest must-see events for skiers and snowboarders. Each of the events on our list provides visitors with a variety of extraordinary après-ski activities and entertainment as well as a great atmosphere.
Based in a number of picturesque locations across the globe, these festivals take place throughout the winter sports season, so whether its award-winning cuisine, original comedy, live music or extreme sporting events that excite you, there's a festival for every kind of winter sports enthusiast on our list of ski festivals that should not be missed.
Chef's Cup, Alta Badia, Italy
Offering skiers the chance to sample a wide variety of fine wines and gourmet cuisine, prepared by a team of 400 talented and famous chefs, Chef's Cup is a festival that runs between the 22 nd to the 27 th of January. The event takes place in the mountains of Alta Badia, Italy; a charming location that was also voted best alpine resort in 2008 by the Italian Touring Club.
This festival has been running since 2004 when it was set up exclusively to enable chefs from around the world to gather and share their expertise and their love of food. Now open to the public, the festival continues to grow both in quality and popularity from one year to the next. For the first three days the event centres around top chef's competing to create winning culinary delights, the results of which can then be tasted by the witnessing crowds. The rest of the festival incorporates competitions for the public, both on the slopes and in the restaurants, where cookery classes are also available.
The Big Snow Festival, Kapaonik, Serbia
Originally based in Andorra, The Big Snow Festival has since moved to the larger resort of Kopaonik, Serbia to accommodate the growing number of live music acts and festival-goers that have doubled since the festival made its debut in 2010. The location itself is suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, due to its diverse range of mountain runs and slopes. The setting also provides a breathtaking backdrop for the biggest acts on the line-up.
Early-bird tickets are available for tourists who want to secure a ticket for the Big Snow Festival. The website offers an all-inclusive deal on flights, airport transfers, accommodation, lift passes and access to all of the ten music venues for the duration of the festival, which runs from the 14 th -21 st March.
Meribel Live - Little World Festival, France
A five-day celebration of British and French music, Meribel Live is a festival that evolved after the band "The Feeling" drew the crowds by performing a free gig in 2008. The event has since become a magnet for music lovers and winter sports enthusiasts alike. The festival, which runs from 13 th -18 th March, has hosted performances from up-and-coming artists, such as British musician, Ben Howard. The festival has a total of ten venues, including both indoor and outdoor sets. Both all-inclusive tickets and wristbands for individual performances can be purchased at a number of venues around the resort. In keeping with the original sentiment of the festival, there are also several free concerts that take place on the piste.
In addition to the must-see headliners, the Little World Festival is located in the mountainous region of Meribel, which offers awe-inspiring scenery. This location also boasts some of Europe's best ski slopes.
Altitude, Mayrhofen, Austria
If being entertained by an assortment of the world's most talented comedians in a variety of intimate venues sounds like an ideal way to spend your evening after a day on the slopes, head to Altitude Festival in Mayrhofen, Austria. This event runs between 26 th and 31 st March, providing festival-goers with six nights of laughter-filled après-ski entertainment.
Set in one of Europe's most luxurious ski resorts, visitors will also have the opportunity to visit the local spa. In addition there are a lavish choice of restaurants available and the impressive Zillertal ski area that incorporates 639 kilometres of ski slopes and a network of 167 gondolas and lifts.
Well known for its pleasant ski conditions during the spring, visitors can expect warm weather throughout their stay at the Mayrhofen resort. Snow cannons are also on standby, should the snow begin to melt, although as the name of the festival states, the high altitude location ensures that this is unlikely to happen.
TELUS Ski and Snowboarding Festival, Whistler, Canada
End the season with a bang at the TELUS festival in the village of Whistler, Canada. The longest running festival on our list, TELUS is also the longest, running from 13 th -22 nd April. This festival offers a vast array of entertainment from free live music performances and sports competitions to professional freestyle ski and snowboarding events.
The festival also hosts fashion shows, comedy performances, art installations, a dog show and dance, film and photography contests that the public are welcome to take part in.
TELUS is definitely the best value for money event on our list, as the majority of events that take place here are free, although most require a lift pass to access as they take place at a number of venues located on and around the mountain.