Saturday 28th November this year is when it all kicks off. Val d’Isère is one of literally only a handful of resorts anywhere in Europe top open for business before the beginning of December, and the lifts don’t start to run in many big names until much closer to Christmas. “First Tracks” is great fun, there are plenty of great deals to be had and what’s more you can test many of the brand new skis for the coming season free of charge.
The 61st edition of the world famous “Première Neige” World Cup racing takes place from 11th to 19th December 2015 is actually two separate events over an 8 day period. Firstly the men take on the famous – or infamous – Face de Bellevarde in GS and Slalom on the first weekend. Then on the last 2 days the ladies of the World Cup circuit hit the OK at warp speed in a downhill and combined downhill and slalom. Around the actual racing, you have all of the atmosphere of teams from all around the world training and of the town “en fête” – and if you’re not that fussed about the racing really, this is a great week to ski as all of the other runs are dead quiet!
During the whole of the week of the Première Neige racing from 13th to 18th December, you can watch our iconic giant ice sculptures emerge from the snow. There are 5 sculpted birds and animals over 4 metres high between the two roundabouts in the main street as well as a nativity scene and a huge igloo. Great photo opportunities!
Christmas in Val d’Isère is a great time for everyone, but of course if you have children – or if you’re a child at heart yourself – it’s even more special. Your children are guaranteed a White Christmas. There’s a spectacular torchlit descent and firework display, a magic show, street entertainment, face painting and so on in the run up to the big event, then on Christmas Eve at 5pm Santa and all of his helpers arrive in the Main Street. A visit to the Watchnight service at the beautiful Baroque church dating back to the 1600s is another magical experience and on Christmas morning why not make first lifts before you settle down to open your presents and enjoy the rest of the day?
The thirty-first Exercise Frosted Blade will take place on the iconic OK piste at La Daille in the first week of January 2016. Over 200 soldiers have gone through intensive race training for the last 6 weeks and now is the moment to put their skills to the test in the four Alpine disciplines of Slalom, GS, Super G and even Downhill. Some of these guys were total beginners at the start of the exercise – some of them had never even seen snow before they got here – so it’s pretty impressive to watch them throw themselves off the wall on the OK. Come and cheer them on…..
Lovers of classical music won’t want to miss the world famous Classicaval concerts, held in the beautiful 17th century church of St Bernard de Menthon. From 26th to 28th January and again from 8th to 10th March talented young musicians from around the world perform in this series of high-altitude concerts.
Started 11 years ago by a bunch of Scandies as a bit of entertainment for student groups on Uni trips, Frostgun is now without doubt the biggest “big air” festival in Europe, and the only platinum level one. This year’s event takes place between the 16th and 18th February and combines an on-slope music festival and freeski with a big air that just gets bigger and bigger every year! On the menu, not only some of the best riders in the world taking on the fearsome big air at the foot of the Face but world class after parties at the legendary Doudoune club too.
Yes, you heard right – golf on snow. This year the BMW Winter Golf series comes to Val d’Isère from 29th March to 3rd April with events taking place both in the main street and on the pristine white snow of the Manchet Valley.
Mid-April sees the annual Monoski World Championships run by our friends at the Mountain Echo, but before you dig your old one-piece of the attic just remember this is a novelty event and it’s for fun – though we have seen the occasional serious competitor turn up! The event’s followed by the ”Village Fête” with a traditional game to play in each bar along the route.
Another of the fun events for seasonaires and holidaymakers taking place at the end of the season, the Rat Race combines your knowledge, problem solving, speed, skill and endurance with a bit of luck as well for a big day out racing round the pistes of Val d’Isère and Tignes. Skiing ability isn’t everything, so anyone can win.
Several times a year the Val d’Isère community does its bit for charity and a regular event in the spring is the Step Up kicker competition and barbecue, held on the side of the Tommeuses bowls. Over the last 7 years the event has raised over 12000 Euros for various charities including 'Turn on the Tap' project, Shelter Box and emergency aid work for the Japanese Tsunami, and the Nepal Earthquake. Swing by for a bit of lunch, support the riders and the causes.
Run by the students of Grenoble business school and billed as the “Student Ski World Cup”, Altigliss now involves over 1000 students from nearly 30 countries. This year’s event takes place from 19th to 26th March 2016 and is expected to be bigger than better than ever. As well as the serious stuff – slalom, GS, parallel slalom, big air and boardercross – there are also the much less serious events which see teams of 10 or more students in fancy dress tied together staggering as fast as they can from bar to bar. On a more serious side the event aims to promote awareness of disabled sports.
The 5th to 8th April 2016 will see Val d’Isère invaded by over 1500 teenagers (plus their entourages, teams and supporters) for the annual running of La Scara – regarded as the Junior World Cup and the first major international competitions at under 14 and under 16 level. “La Scara” is named in memory of French racer and local instructor Hervé Scaraffiotti whose family run the Casa Scara restaurant opposite the church. (Scara is the local nickname for the Scaraffiotti family).