There are a great many reasons to ski Val d’Isere in December and every week has a different vibe. Due to the geography of the area (60% of the runs are above 2,500 metres & the Pissaillas glacier is nearby), snow is almost guaranteed all the way through the season, even at the start. The first week the lifts open is one of the cheapest times to ski, and the resort has some fantastic après bars like Le Chalet & La Folie Douce where you can soak up the optimism of the early season.
The latter half of the month sees two of Val’s busiest weeks: Christmas and New Year. The village is among the prettiest in the Alps, especially at Christmas: the Savoyard buildings are traditionally decorated with fairy lights and in the past there have been floodlit snow sculptures to admire and loads of festive events and activities. If you’re looking for a lively place to party in the New Year, Val is one of the best in the world for a shindig – home to the original Folie Douce and Dicks T Bar.
December Snow History
Average snow depth
Average snow depth
December ski rating
The fact that over 60% of the runs are above 2,500 metres and that Val d’Isere has its own glacier (the Pissaillas has skiing over the 3000m mark) means that even at the start of the season, there should be a decent amount of snow to ski on. In recent years, December has seen an average snow coverage of 106cm at the top of the piste and 54cm at the bottom.
December can be chilly here with temperatures hovering around 1.4 degrees (average highs of 5.5 and lows of -2.6), which is compounded by the resort’s altitude. If you wrap up warm and choose your runs carefully, you can enjoy some awesome skiing in December. Stick to southerly facing slopes like Grande Pre as these get the most sunshine. There are also some fantastic sheltered runs below the tree line at Fornet, like Mangard (blue) and Cognon (red). At La Daille, there’s something for everyone regardless of ability. If you’re a beginner, try the long, treed meandering “Verte” run. For experts, the black Raye offers a serious challenge – it’s often used for slalom races.
“First Tracks”- an annual event that celebrates the beginning of the season - has in the past included ski film premieres, huge slopeside parties and a chance to test the latest ski and boarding equipment. The resort is well-known for its competitive skiing heritage and is a location for the FIS World Cup - whenever the World Cup party comes to town, there’s a terrific carnival atmosphere.
Val has hosted the Criterium de la Premiere Neige, which translates to ‘the first races of the new snow’, for the past 57 years. This thrilling, unmissable event features the best skiers in the world competing in Super G, Slalom and Downhill.
With its lively atmosphere and picturesque Savoyard architecture, Christmas in Val d’Isere is magical. In years gone by, festive events have included torch lit descents, firework displays, visits by Father Christmas (and sometimes Mother Christmas too!) and giant flood lit snow sculptures.
Thanks to world class après ski, New Year’s is a fantastic time to go skiing in Val d’Isere. For the countdown, everyone usually gathers in the Town Square where you can enjoy a spectacular firework display (just watch out for the champagne corks!). The resort’s many clubs and bars put on their own events, many of which are ticket-only affairs, so be sure to plan ahead if you want to party in the most popular venues - Dicks, a favourite for seasonaires, is likely to be buzzing as it celebrates both NYE and its birthday on the same night.
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