Reggae, Raves And Ice Caves: The Low-Down On Snowbombing Festival 2018
It's not for the faint-hearted...
When I arrived in Mayrhofen in Austria for Snowbombing festival, my first thought was that it looked like a quaint little fairytale village – a perfect backdrop for Emma Watson to sing “Little Town” and flap her apron around.
But while Snowbombing festival takes place in Mayrhofen and the serene-looking mountains surrounding it, this fest is anything but quaint, or serene. House music blares out from every mountain restaurant and instead of seeing families skiing in sensible attire you’ll see plenty of skiiers and snowboarders in outlandish costumes. Some of the best we saw were huge inflatable-men-with-their-tops-off-and-bow-ties-on costumes (they deflated for lunch), and the full Teletubbie squad from Tinky Winky right down to Po (though it was La La bringing up the rear every time… get a move on).
While you're at it, check out this alpine adventure in Lake Tahoe...
In terms of actual snowsports (to get the sensible part over with), there are plenty of gentle slopes and lesson opportunities up in the mountains at Snowbombing for the more nervous skiers, but for the more advanced and (let's face it) arrogant snowsporters there's also the infamous 78% incline slope Harikiri to try out - the steepest in Europe. It looks terrifying from the ski lift... and when you're at the top peering down. It's also terrifying when you're on it, actually, but even if you end up rolling all the way down, give it a go so that you can boast about it later.
After a morning of snowsports (if you managed to surface in time for morning) you’re ready to settle in for lunch. Whether chilling to reggae remix vibes at Rompa’s Reggae Shack, watching skiiers/ snowboarders do crazy stunts in the snow park, or starting après ski early to the beats of top-notch DJs (we witnessed the one and only Idris Elba playing his set, which was amazing… there’s nothing the man can’t do), there’s never a dull moment at lunch. It’s when the night begins at Snowbombing. We learnt very quickly that it’s never too early to start drinking.
A word of warning: after you get the gondola back down to Mayrhofen to drop off your skis/ snowboards, the tiredness may hit you. Especially after a few days at the fest. Snowbombing never sleeps however, so even if you can find time for a quick pre-evening nap, you’re probably missing something big. Our advice, if you’ve got the stamina, is to just power on. This isn't summer in Spain - ain't no time for a siesta.
So, evening. We saw two huge acts on the main stage - one night Pendulum blasted out their most iconic dance riffs to a rowdy crowd, another night Liam Gallagher had everyone roaring along to Oasis classics. The best part? Whoever you catch on the Forest Stage, you basically experience one of the most beautiful gig settings of your life - it's in an actual forest lit by fairy lights laid across the trees. Beaut.
From the Forest Stage though, your night is far from finished. There are plenty of other amazing and unique venues at Snowbombing to explore. With its playlist of majorly nostalgic pop hits (a lot of which are full of cheese – think Barbie Girl and Stacy’s Mom), a night at Fun Haus club is not an experience to be taken seriously or to hold back on. Brightly coloured streamers dangle down from the ceilings, the dance floor is full of flailing dance moves, and a limbo procession may break out at any time. It really is the funnest haus around.
One iconic venue you have to check out at Snowbombing is The Racket Club. Entering in through a tiny alleyway and down some unsuspecting stairs, it’s hard to imagine how this club could possibly be a massive underground warehouse/ rave cave. Well, it is. The ceilings go on forever, and huge mesmerising light displays hang from it. Your eyes won’t believe what they’re witnessing. Dancing to some of your fave DJs at The Racket Club is an experience you deffo don’t want to miss.
An absolute nightlife highlight, though, was definitely Snowbombing’s Arctic Disco. It was an entirely surreal experience. Having caught the gondola up the mountain from the village, your next task is to slide up a slippery path laid into the snow, assisted by a rope at the side of it, until you emerge onto the flat upon which sits… an igloo. A real life igloo. You can tell it’s real because some of it drips inside.
Day or night, these igloo parties at 6000ft are a must-do. Just make sure you wear warm, waterproof shoes (the snow is pretty damn deep in places) and plenty of layers. If you go in the evening, you have to stay up there until the first gondola goes back down, so there’ll be no popping back to the hotel to put on an extra cardi. Preparation is key.
Whether you choose to venture to a pop up party in a hotel kitchen, a fancy dress street party, or a DJ set in a butcher’s shop, which are all actual things that happen at Snowbombing (Hans The Butcher is a local legend), Snowbombing festival has a party on for every occasion day, or night.
Don’t worry, you can sleep when you’re home…