We estimate that almost a million gay guys go skiing somewhere in Europe every year. Over the past decade, a growing number of gay ski week organisers have tapped into this market, offering a combination of ski, après-ski socialising and late-night parties.
Here’s our roundup of what you need to know about the main gay ski weeks in Europe in 2016.
Gay ski weeks attract a broad spectrum of guys from mid 20’s to the fit 60+.
What to expect?
Welcome Party – Your first chance to eye up the talent and make new friends.
Daily Après-ski – Organisers host an after-ski meet that tends to get busy around 4pm. These are very popular and a great place to socialise.
Night Parties – Organisers promote big club names, but the parties are typically held in small venues with tiny dance floors (typical for Alpine resorts). Event pass holders get free entry and usually a free cocktail. Bar prices for subsequent drinks are expensive. How many parties you attend will be determined by how important your skiing day is to you. Going to bed in the early hours is not entirely compatible with hitting the slopes at 9am.
Afterhours – Both the European Gay Ski Week and European Snow Pride also arrange late-night afterhours parties that stay open until about 4am.
Pool Party – The highlight of both the European Gay Ski Week and European Snow Pride week are the pool parties. These early evening events have limited capacity and are always sold out (it’s the only event you are guaranteed to see everyone in the flesh). Book a ticket in advance or you probably will not get in.
Other Activities – Organsiers host themed dinner parties, night-time descents, film showings, etc. Usually well-attended and fun.
Skiing is an expensive sport. Organising a week of parties up a mountain costs a lot of money,too. So, understandably, attending a gay ski week is never going to be cheap. In addition to the normal cost of a ski holiday (accommodation, transport, lift pass, equipment hire, insurance) budget for an event pass, pool party ticket and lots of expensive drinks.
Should I go?
Gay ski weeks are great fun for those who love ski, socialise and party in equal measure.
Hardcore skiers who just want to maximise time on the slopes will probably find themselves just attending the apres-ski meet-ups, so might want to think twice.
Absolute beginners are well catered for at all the events shown below, although it’s worth noting that group ski lessons usually start at 9:30am, so you will not want to stay up late. Taking a few lessons on a local dry ski slope before the event will make a big difference.
Gay Ski Week Options for 2016
European Gay Sky Week
When: 19th – 26th March 2016
Where: Avoriaz, France (Portes du Soleil ski area)
Resort height: 1800m Max height of ski area: 2460m
Skiing: Avoriaz resort is located at a decent height, but the slopes don’t go too much higher. However, the resort has a good snow record and it is at the centre of the Portes Due Soleil, a ski area with around 650km of marked pistes, spread over 14 valleys. Most hotels are ski-in/ski-out.
Programme: An impressive daily Apres Ski Party, Grindr Welcome Party, parties in conjunction with Crazyvores, Bearpit, Revolver, Beyond and The Wig Party and the main party of the week – The Snowball. There is an after-hours party every night from 1am to 4am.
The sellout “Pump” Pool Party is held at the Aquariaz indoor water park featuring DJ Alan Turner from the UK. Event Pass holders can buy advance Pool Party tickets for an extra 18€. Pass holders get a free welcome shot or half-priced drink at every party, various discounts on ski rental, lift passes etc.
Transfers: Organisers offer coach transfers from Geneva Airport (for a fee). If you rent and drive a car, then it is essential to pre-book a secure underground parking space just outside the village as Avoriaz itself is car-free.
Accommodation: Organisers offer a range of accommodation options, or you can book your hotel or apartment yourself. Shared accommodation packages for singles are available. Most hotels in Avoriaz are ski-in/ski-out.
European Snow Pride
When: 12th – 19th March 2016
Where: Tignes, France (Espace Killy / Three Valleys ski area)
Resort height: 2100m Max height of ski area: 3450m.
Skiing: Espace Killy features some 300km of leg burning pistes with a huge variety of terrain including excellent power and glacier skiing. This high altitude resort and ski area is very snow-sure for March. A Three Vallees lift pass provides access to an incredible 1,325km of pistes and an excellent lift network.
Programme: Claims to be “Europe’s biggest gay ski week” although the number of participants in 2015 was not disclosed. The week kicks of with a welcome cocktail and buffet party (tends to be a bit of scrum for the finger food). Pass holders get access to the daily apres ski meet-up (this year to be held Chalet du Bollin – the restaurant bar with a excellent sun terrace, located at the top of the Bollin chair lift, just outside Tignes Val Claret) and late-night dance parties, including two at Tignespace (a huge new development located in Tignes Le Lac. The excellent pool party (pass holder only) is held at the massive 5,000m² Le Lagon, also in Tignes le Lac.
Accommodation: Organisers offer a host hotels plus range of non-exclusive hotel and apartment options. Options for singles willing to share are available. Alternatively, make your own arrangements. In previous years, booking a hotel or apartment within Tignes Val Claret was the obvious choice. But with more parties being held in Tignes Le Lac this year, options in this part of town are worth considering. Some resorts are ski-in/ski-out, others involve a short walk.
Transfers: Organisers offer a coach transfer from Geneva Airport (208km) and Bourg Saint Maurice train station (30kms) for connections within France and Eurostar trains from London (for a fee). Alternative airports with public coach transfer services include Chambery (142km) and Grenoble (208km).
It is relatively easy to drive to Tignes and there is plenty of (paid) parking available in the town. The event is being held during school term time so the road up and down the mountain should not be too busy. If you rent a car from an airport, it is essential you get a car with winter tires and/or snow chains.
Arosa Gay Ski Week
When: 10th – 17th January 2016
Where: Arosa, Switzerland
Resort height: 1775m – Max height of ski area: 2965m
Skiing: With Arosa and the lesser known Lenzeheide ski areas now connected by a 1.7km double cable car, there are 225km of pistes to explore across two valleys. Expect typical Swiss efficiency when it comes to its lift system.
Programme: Activities kick off with the La Diva welcome cocktail party. The nightly Gay Apres-Ski will be held at restaurant bar Vetterstübli. “Friendship dinners” will be held most evening at various different restaurants, followed by themed parties with live DJ’s. The Splash Pool Party (Thursday 15th Jan), held at Hotel Altein, offers fun in a tropical pool complete with GMF Berlin DJ Eduardo de la Torre and hunky wet and wild go-go lifeguards. The party week wraps up with the White Snow Ball on Saturday 17th.
Organisers offer a pass for all events during the week, or uniquely, a pass that just covers Thursday to Saturday night.
Accommodation: The event is offered as a accommodation and entertainment package, although in 2016 organizers are selling event passes only, so if you choose, you can book your hotel separately. Special shared accommodation offers are available for solo travellers.
Transfers: Arosa is located in eastern Switzerland between Davos and St. Moritz. Fly to Zurich and take a train, via Zurich to Arosa. You can drive to Arosa, winter tires and snow chains are essential.
When: 2nd – 9th April 2016 (but see note below)
Where: Sölden, Ötztal Valley, Austria
Resort height: 1,400m | Max height of ski area: 3,250
Skiing: Sölden is a very reliable ski resort due to the two high altitude glaciers that connect to the area. The resort features 33 lifts and 144km of pistes. However in April, expect some challenging snow conditions on the lower slopes back to the resort.
Events: The Gay SnowHappening is back (we think) after a year’s break. As at August 2015, the organisers have announced dates not yet published details of events and their Facebook page is pretty devoid of any updates. Probably a good idea not to book travel and accommodation until more details are made available. Organisers say they expect around 300 in 2016.
Transfers: Fly to Innsbruck and take a shuttle bus service to Sölden. Alternatively, take the train to Ötztal Bahnhof and then a public bus (approx 1.5 hours) or taxi to the village. Sölden is easily accessible by car.
Last updated 6th Oct 2015 – details added to Arosa Gay Ski Week – detail added to European Snow Pride