Let’s face it, as much as we love to ski or board we also love to party with our friends after a day on the slopes. Actually, for those of us who are less enamored with the slope-side action the after-hours partying can be the glue that keeps us together. This is why REGARDLESS of who you’re traveling with you should never choose a resort on the quality of its pistes alone. Get ready to après.
1. St Anton, Austria
Consistently lauded as having one of the world’s most unmissable après scenes, St Anton gives as good off the slopes as it does on. The Krazy Kangeroo bar complete with a ski jump from the deck is legendary, while the Mooserwit’s Cup really does runneth over with beer sales, they say, of 5000 liters per day. Also, prepare for a fuzzy-headed first lift the next day as the average closing time is 3am!
2. Val d’Isere, France
Val d’Isere is home to the infamous La Folie Douce the resort’s only on-mountain venue. An open terrace plays hosts to a range of DJs and live bands, with crowds descending both directly from the piste and ascending from the resort via La Daille gondola, at the top of which it is located. Although it closes when the lifts do, people party on until the early hours down in the resort, where there is a wealth of bars and clubs to choose from.
3. Zermatt, Switzerland
It looks like something off a postcard, thanks, in part, to strict regulations controlling build heights - but beneath its innocent exterior, there’s a wild après scene to throw yourself into with abandon. On-piste pubs provide plenty of opportunities to kick back with a beer or a glühwein - try Zum See, on the ride down from Furi - while nightlife cranks up a gear at the Panorama Bar.
4. Whistler, Blackcomb
On-piste challenges are well rewarded with off-piste opportunities to go wild - not so much on the mountain itself, but certainly down in the resort once the lifts close at 4pm. Try Merlin’s, located at the bottom of the Wizard Express chair, for a rock’n’roll vibe fuelled by pitchers of beer and plates of nachos. Out for a late one? Head to Tommy Africa’s Nightclub for dance floor action until 2am.
5. Thredbo, Australia
Maybe you don’t associate Australia so much with mountains as with beaches, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a buzzing scene here, with cannons of man made snow compensating for what the climate fails to deliver. Aussies know how to party, too, so be prepared for a lively after-lifts scene. The Keller bar is nothing short of legendary: don’t miss one of the epic full moon parties held here throughout the season.
6. Steamboat, Colorado
Challenges on-piste are made all the more worthwhile with the promise of an ultra laid-back après scene. For the best boots-on action, head to the Slopeside Grill, which has ski-in, ski-out access and an outdoor area - complete with an outdoor bar carved out of ice - so vast that locals have dubbed it ‘The Beach’. Kick back, soak up the sun and surroundings and enjoy a local beer - or several.
7. Val Thorens, France
Less pricey than some of its glitzy French counterparts, Val Thorens is the highest party town in the Alps, with a mood to match. Its altitude also means that the season - and therefore the party - starts early. The Saloon Bar draws huge crowds and sets the scene for a rowdy night, which you can continue on the vast dance floor at Malaysia - the largest nightclub in the Alps.
8. Livigno, Italy
Although its on-piste standards make best suited to beginners and intermediates, that’s not to say that the après scene is similarly gentle. Best places to party? There’s a different theme each night at the Tea del Vidal, which you’ll find near the bottom of the Mottolino gondola. You can’t come here without trying a bombardino - it’s a brandy-laced eggnog and this bar claims to have invented it.
9. Les Deux Alpes, France
A buzzing party town, there’s a vibrant 2 kilometer strip where most of the après action takes place. Smokey Joe’s is the main focal point, with a nightly happy hour, live music and huge plates of burgers and wings to be had. Up on the slopes, the Pano Bar is the place you may fall into for a mid-afternoon break - and still find yourself hours later, having not skiied another run.
10. Chamonix, France
One word describes this resort: epic. Actually, that’s not the only word. Vibrant, crazy, boisterous, exuberant, irrepressible also work. In any case, there’s not only brilliantly world class skiing to be enjoyed - the excitement carries on long after the lifts close down for the evening. Top pick? Chambre Neuf, where you can down the beers and enjoy the live music - all with plenty to keep your eyes happy, ranging from views of Mont Blanc to an impossibly good looking clientele.
11. Mayrhofen, Austria
Already a powerhouse of activity by day, Mayrhofen really takes it up a notch by night, with a variety of bars and hang-outs to choose from across the resort’s area. Get your snow bunny on by heading to a real igloo - The White Lounge - complete with an lively outdoor seating area and regular events and parties. Snowcarvings add an extra touch of ‘Winter Wonderland’ to the atmosphere.
12. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Powderhounds are spoiled for choice at Jackson Hole, and while most epic nights wind up at the Mangy Moose eventually, there are lots of après options around Teton Village, which kickstart long before the lifts close. One unmissable venue? The Bistro at Alpenhof, where you can get your Euro vibes on with fondue - the only place in Jackson Hole to serve it - and enjoy live music and beer in an Alpine setting.
13. Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Located in Canada’s Quebec province, Mont Tremblant offers a large choice of party hot-spots and more intimate bars to hit once you’re finished on the pistes. Consistently ranking on ‘best’ lists, Le P’tit Caribou has open air terraces, a fantastic line up of DJs spinning the most dance-worthy tunes and no fewer than five bars at which to get your alcoholic hit. Devoted beer drinker? Don’t bypass Microbrasserie La Diable, where 100% natural craft beers are brewed on site.
14. Sun Valley, Idaho
The site of the world’s first two chairlfts, Sun Valley was modelled on European resorts early in the 20th century - and the après scene is true to this heritage. The recently revamped lobby at Sun Valley Lodge has a swishy feel, but there are plenty of options for the less rarefied post-pister - hit up Seattle Ridge Lodge for sweeping views and once-tried-never-matched Bloody Marys.
15. Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California
Sure, California may be the epicentre of all things clean-living and green-juicing but it seems that Heavenly either missed the memo, or thought that its name was enough of a halo-earner. Get ready for maximum debauchery, with epic dance parties, endless shots and no fewer than five casinos in which to lose your shirt - although hopefully not your ability to get back out on the slopes the following day.
16. Breckenridge, Colorado
Most of the liveliest après here takes place in a boots-on setting right there on the sides of Slopes 8 & 9 but no one’s going to judge you if you shower and change before heading out, especially not with the entertainment options available to you on and around Main Street. Mi Casa is a time and again winner: think affordable wings and Mexican beers, as well as Margaritas for those willing to go the distance.
17. Courchevel, France
High prices don’t just affect revelers - they also affect proprietors, who in recent years have found themselves having to call time on their post-piste offerings. This has, in recent years, been an issue in 1850, with the result that you’re better off descending another 200m to 1650 for the best of the scene. Unmissable is a big word but really, when a bar is such a magnet that the clientele will happily shift furniture out on to the street to create more room for partying … kudos La Boulotte!
18. Solden, Austria
Two glaciers ensure quality snow, but take a break from broad, cruisy, intermediate-friendly runs to stop off at one of the chilled out mountain huts before last lifts: you can get your après feels on with a few cold beers and some great music before heading down to the bottom. Try the Cuckoo Bar at the base of the Gigijoch gondola for a great atmosphere, and party on until the early hours at one of the resort’s wild clubs.
19. Meribel, France
Hugely popular with British powder hounds, this is undoubtedly one of the liveliest resorts in the Alps. Après kicks off early at The Rond Point - affectionately dubbed “The Ronnie” - with live bands and an even livelier crowd. La Coeur de Crystal isn’t far from here: expect to keep your drink firmly in your hand, as tables are primarily utilised for boots-on dancing.
20. Pas de la Casa, Andorra
Perhaps it’s because of the crossover between Ibiza and here, by way of the staff who season summer-to-winter in both, but this really is party central, with an après scene that only accelerates as the evening rolls on. Head to the Underground, where live music gets things going in the afternoon, before DJs take to the decks and crank up the vibe until the wee hours.
21. Aspen, Colorado
Highly regarded as having the best après scene in North America, Aspen’s after hours entertainment is to be both enjoyed and deserved after putting in the hours on slopes which are steep and challenging. A favorite with visitors and locals alike, 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel offers a luxurious yet cosy setting, complete with roaring fire and muscle-relieving hot tub - all against the backdrop of cool tunes and mountain scenery.
22. Mt Hood, Oregon
It’s not in the après league of some of its other North American counterparts, but the crowd maketh the vibe - and the Mt Hood crowd are some of the friendliest and most laid back that you’re likely to encounter. The post-piste scene here is also remarkably family friendly in places - after all, why should the young and single have all the fun? Head to Government Camp for the best range of bars and restaurants.
23. Ischgl, Austria
Known in some circles as ‘the Ibiza of the Alps’, Ischgl’s party scene is nothing if not energetic. Feeling confident and a bit cashed up? Live it up at Pacha - yes, from the relative of the one in Ibiza - where you’ll likely find yourself rubbing shoulders with the rich and the gorgeous. Otherwise, start your evening early at Trofana Alm, where DJs play unashamedly brash Europop and the alcohol flows freely.
24. Banff, Canada
The Rocky Mountains have an almost magnetic pull on skiers and boarders from around the world, even drawing them from such far-flung locations as Australia and New Zealand. Part of the reason, as well as the adrenaline-charging mountain scenery and slopes, is the legendary après scene. High Rollers combines bowling, booze and burgers to ensure that your evening off the slopes is as epic as your day on them. The resort’s famous Winterfest, with parties and bands, kicks off in the last week or so of January.
25. Verbier, Switzerland
It’s one of the pricier resorts and this is reflected in the sophistication of the nightlife - relative newcomer Coco’s even adds diamonds to one of its cocktails. On the slopes, look out for a handful of Mongolian yurts near the bottom of the Mayentzet chair: this is Bar 1936 where you can hang on a sunlounger and watch the sunset. Pub Mont Fort draws a young crowd and is popular with resort and chalet staff.
26. Courmayer, Italy
It’s not likely to impress you with its size, but more than makes up for that in charm - not to mention with the cute little mountain huts dotted all along the pistes, each of which tempts you to down your poles and head inside for their particular alcoholic specialty. Down in the pedestrianised heart of the village, head to Caffè della Posta, where drinks are served with free antipasti and the mood is effortlessly relaxed.
27. Laax, Switzerland
The après scene here is nowhere near as wild as some of the other European resorts and, perhaps partly for that reason, tends to attract a more grown up crowd. There’s still a healthy nightlife to be enjoyed though - the WaWa tent kicks off from early afternoon with dance-worthy Europop, while international names - both bands and DJs - play at the Palace Club. Younger riders will likely gravitate towards the Crap Bar and the Indy Club for a hip party atmosphere.
28. Sun Peaks, Canada
As the 3rd largest resort in Canada, Sun Peaks’ BC location has 122 runs on which to flex your skiing muscles, after which you deserve to kick back with a couple of beers and a game of pool. The scene is quiet but enjoyable - hit up Bottom’s for one of the liveliest venues for after-hours entertainment; Masa’s is also a popular choice. If you’re around for one of the infamous ‘fondue and torchlit skiing’ nights, be sure to join in - it’s incredible fun.
29. Hemsedal, Norway
It’s one of Scandinavia’s best resorts, with reliable snow cover all the way through from November to May. Bar(t) at the Fanitullen Hotel is often packed to its 600-strong capacity, with an ebullient crowd swaying on the dancefloor, or downing shots at one of the establishment’s five bars. The mood is no less energetic at Skistua Hemesdal, where the music is nothing short of eardrum-busting.
30. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
Previously off-limits to boarders, Taos extended its welcome to non-pole-wielding snow enthusiasts about ten years ago. Desert surroundings make for gloriously sunny conditions, even when the snow cover is fantastic - and there’s no better place in which to soak up the rays that on the deck of The Bavarian. After hours, head to The Martini Tree Bar for a livelier vibe and killer cocktails.