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I swapped ski holidays with my nieces for a celeb festival hotspot – and it was a shock to the system

Here's what happened when I headed to Avoriaz for Snowboxx festival

Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
April 29, 2024
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Peering over the edge of the precipice that is the Swiss Wall between France and Switzerland, the crashing realisation hit me that I'm a leisurely skier. I'd love to tell you that I'm the kind of sportswoman who can glide down one of the hardest slopes in the world without a second thought, jumping off the two-metre moguls with grace and skillfully carving into the ice at a 76% gradient, but that would be a lie – and quite an embellished one at that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a novice after enjoying a couple of family holidays over the past 20 years. Most recently, that's meant joining my brother and his two daughters aged nine and six for slow-paced runs, relaxed post-ski drinks and early nights.

Fireworks next to a Snowboxx festival stage© Snowboxx
I headed to Avoriaz in France for my first ski festival

But pottering down blue and red runs (for those not aware, colours range from green as the easiest to blue, red and black as the hardest) is a far cry from throwing yourself down an orange. That's right, the Swiss Wall has its own classification!

So how exactly did I fare swapping my chilled holidays with my family for a celebrity-approved festival in Avoriaz? Four weeks later and my sleep schedule still hasn't recovered, if that tells you anything.

The ski slopes

Skiers down a slope on a mountain© Snowboxx

Swiss Wall aside, the large Portes du Soleil ski area offers a plethora of slopes for any ability – I'm talking 600 km of slopes between two countries. Some may say I was spoilt for choice.

I spent the first afternoon finding my ski legs near the main town, but it became more and more deserted the further you ventured across the mountain.

But word of warning – you'll need to get back before the last lifts. That should be second nature to seasoned skiers, but it's surprisingly easy to forget the time when you're playing around in fresh snow without a watch easily accessible.

Skiier doing a somersault© Snowboxx
Check out the tricks or test your skills at the snowpark. Disclaimer: This is not me

If you're after more challenges, head over to the snowparks where you can test out your skills or play spectator to the pros. My attempts were a sorry state of affairs – what felt like a three-foot jump turned out to be less than three inches of air. But practice makes perfect!

Or you could pass tour time trying a bottomless brunch or a spa day in the hotel – the challenge is finding the time to fit everything into your busy schedule. 

The ski festival

Guests dancing at Snowboxx festival at night© Snowboxx
The Streets, Rudimental, Nia Archives and Goddard were some of the artists at Snowboxx 2024

Snowboxx puts on themed dress-up days each year, allowing people to showcase their impressive cold-weather wardrobes. This year's was the iconic 80s, so it's safe to say the legendary Folie Douce has never been so bold and colourful.

If you're feeling up for a lazy afternoon of gastronomy, sit alongside other impeccably dressed retro skiers as you dig into a hearty meal – I can whole-heartedly recommend the traditional Crozets de Savoie, which came with live performances from singers.

Apres is one of the main attractions of any ski holiday, and it's safe to say that Snowboxx does not disappoint. From around 3 pm onwards, the ski-in, ski-out mountainside bar becomes a magnet for many of the 6,000 festival-goers, including singer Gareth Gates, Hollyoaks Ruby O'Donnell and Love Island's Chloe Burrows, Millie Grace Court and Liam Reardon.

Snowboxx festival-goers sitting on the snow and dancing© Snowboxx
The legendary Folie Douce attracts hundreds of people for apres every day

Who wouldn't want to listen to live DJs such as Becky Hill and Gok Wan or dance on the tables at Folie Douce before navigating their way back to your ski-up accommodation to change for the evening?

All the stages are within walking distance from the accommodation, meaning I could easily pick and choose my favourites knowing smugly my post-festival commute was a maximum of 10 minutes. Disclaimer: I was often lost in the dark, so anyone with a decent sense of direction could shave this down to 5 minutes.

This year, the setlist included The Streets, Rudimental, Nia Archives and my highlight, Goddard.

His set was a short snowcat ride away. Insistent I was going to try and explore as much as humanly possible during my short three-day trip, I bundled into the snowcat with about 10 other festival-goers and made my bumpy way to the bottom of a ski slope.

After a short (yet hilariously challenging) hike up to a remote stage, I was met with a mini outdoor bar, ice caves leading to an indoor bar and uninterrupted views of the mountain peppered with the twinkling lights of the town I had just come from.

The mountainside accommodation

Snowboarders looking at ski jumps with ski-in accommodation in the distance© Snowboxx

I'm not the kind of person who can function off a few hours of sleep. I struggle to drift off on a good day and find it even harder to stay asleep, so add in late-night dancing and drinking and early alarms to catch the first lifts and I was far from well-rested.

But that thankfully had nothing to do with my five-star mountainside accommodation, Premium residence L’Amara. Despite being just minutes away from the live music, my apartment faced down into the valley, offering picturesque views of the Morzine valley and shielding me nicely from any noisy early morning after parties.

My spacious two-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment had its own kitchen, dining area, lounge and balcony.

While the hail and snow dampened our spirits on the first morning, causing us to cancel our ski plans, my mood was quickly lifted by a pamper morning enjoying the indoor swimming pool, Hammam spa and mini sauna pods. The latter were located outside with glass walls making you feel as though you could almost touch the snow – any stress quite literally melts away. 

So when I say a festival ski holiday was a shock to the system, I mean in the very best sense. Would I return to Snowboxx? Absolutely. Would I be wiser with my sleep schedule? Most definitely. 

Check out www.snowboxx.com for the early bird sale on 30 July. Ticket and hotel starts at £299 per person if you book at early bird price. See the website for a breakdown of each star rating: https://www.snowboxx.com/

READ: 7 best child-friendly ski resorts for a perfect family holiday

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