Temperatures are dropping, nights are drawing in and there’s a very special season on the horizon. No, we’re not talking about Christmas – we’re talking about snow. But no matter how eager you are to get out on the slopes on your next ski and snowboard holiday, there’s an absolutely baffling array of choice to get your head around. This year, we’ve done the hard work for you and scoured the globe to bring you a list of resorts and holiday ideas to put at the top of your priority list. Whether you’re travelling with your family, you want to go somewhere completely different, or don’t even want to ski or snowboard at all, here are a few of the best...
Best ski and snowboard holidays for families
Go somewhere (slightly) more affordable in Slovakia
With marmots and mountain goats, glacial lakes and waterfalls, and outrageous views, Slovakia's Tatras National Park has all the staples of a family-friendly adventure in the great outdoors. Take the mountain tram up to Strbske Pleso, the Tatras' highest village, then head out on a snowshoe adventure through pine forests or explore the Tatras' hillside meadows, caves and rock formations by dogsled. As for the skiing itself, the area has the longest season in Slovakia – at an altitude of 1,346m, the glacial lake at Strbske Pleso is frozen for almost half the year – the slopes are great for both novice and experienced skiers and it's a tad cheaper than much of the rest of Europe.
Need to know: Families Worldwide offers seven nights B&B accommodation from £1,099 per adult and £1,059 per child. familiesworldwide.co.uk; Wizz Air flies from Luton to Slovakia from £33 return. wizzair.com
Get away from your kids in South Tyrol, Italy
Book in for a stay at Sonnwies in South Tyrol, Italy, and you'll have access to 70 blissful hours of free childcare. But if you don't want to be without your little ones, Sonnwies is a one-stop shop for a family-friendly holiday: outdoor adventures range from building snowmen to tobogganing; there's a weekly programme of activities that include cooking classes, arts and craft and looking after animals on the farm; and there are three children's pools, including one that's heated and outdoor. Leave them to frolic while you kick back and relax in the adults-only spa.
Need to know: Stay at Sonnwies from £338pn based on two adults and two children sharing on an all-inclusive meal basis. Ski hire and lessons from the on-site instructors are available at an extra cost. sonnwies.com; easyJet flies from Gatwick to Innsbruck from £188 return. easyjet.com
Keep little ones entertained in Tremblant, Canada
Look to Tremblant, Canada, just a short transfer from Montreal, and you'll get all the main selling points of a Canadian ski holiday – reliable snow and big mountain skiing – but without the West Coast flight times.The village is bright, colourful and ideal for entertaining younger family members, while the slopes are wide and brilliant for beginners. Elsewhere, there's ice skating, tubing, an indoor pool complex and the Mont Tremblant Activity Centre with zip lines and a high-rope course. And, as this is Quebec, you'll also get a soupçon of French charm in the form of creperies and the Chocolaterie chocolate shop – perfect for refueling tired legs after a day on the piste.
Need to know: From £897 per person, including flights, free first tracks and ice skate hire for kids. crystalski.co.uk
Best luxury ski and snowboard breaks
Sail and ski in the Lofoten archipelago, Norway
Why merely go on a skiing holiday when you can go on a skiing and sailing holiday in one? Borrow A Boat (think AirBnb, but for boats) has just launched a new Ski & Sail Adventure in the remote Lofoten archipelago in Norway. The eight-night itinerary will see you explore the outrageously beautiful alpine scenery onboard a 50ft boat, but when you're not gawping at them from the sea you'll be able to carve your way down 700-1,000m descents that end on Nordic beaches, making them only accessible from the water.
Go heli-skiing in British Columbia, Canada
If you're going to go on an adventure as epic as heli-skiing, you might as well do it properly. Go to British Columbia with CMH and you'll get unfettered access to three million acres of skiable terrain. That's a whopping 20 times larger than all North American ski resorts combined, and most of the time it's completely untouched snow, as the helicopter gives you access to areas other people just can't reach.
Ski in the lap of luxury in Switzerland
Stay at The Chedi Andermatt and you'll have your very own ski butler. What's that, you ask? Well, your butler can give you tips about the best free riding spots in the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun, and will even drop you off at the valley stations and pick you up again after you've worn yourself making the most of the area's 120km of skiiable terrain. Then, of course, comes the accommodation itself: think fur, velvet and stained wood with sleek Asian accents – and access to the hotel's six restaurants and bars.
Best winter holidays for non-skiers
take things slow in St Martin de Belleville, France
This picturesque village offers a tranquil contrast to the livelier resorts found elsewhere in Les 3 Vallées. Renovated Savoie farmhouses sit side-by-side with cosy bars serving up brandy-laced coffee and shots of génépi, a gently floral alpine spirit made from mountain herbs. St Martin's small size makes it a good base for non-skiers – you'll get chatting to locals in no time and everywhere is easy to reach on foot. Arrange a guided snowshoe walking tour through the vast forest trails nearby; as they're in the opposite direction to the slopes it's highly likely you'll be the first person to set foot on the pristine powder in days. Afterwards, head back down to the new Lys outdoor spa, where you can appreciate the mountain setting from one of the five hot tubs.
Need to know: Peak Retreats offers seven nights self-catered at Chalets Caseblanche from £629pp including self-drive Eurotunnel crossing. peakretreats.co.uk
Drink wine on the slopes at Wein am Berg festival, Austria
Snow-covered slopes aren't just for skiing, y'know. Head to Solden, Austria, in April and you'll find the pistes given up in favour of three days of drinking wine and eating food. From high-altitude wine tastings to a Big Bottle Party that serves, erm, big bottles, Wein am Berg – hosted by ice Q bar and the sleekly luxurious hotel Das Central – brings together international chefs, winegrowers and unparalleled mountain views. We'll raise a few glasses to that.
Go Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain
Swerve the skiing completely and book in for an entirely different kind of snow holiday. The peaks and valleys of the Catalan Pyrenees provide a dramatic backdrop on this seven-night walking tour that begins in the picturesque village of Rialp, on the banks of the Noguera Pallaresa river. You'll spend your mornings snowshoeing through the wild Parc d' Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici (good luck saying that all in one go) and your afternoons sampling local cheese, tasting local wines and visiting Romanesque villages. Simply delightful.
Need to know: Exodus offers seven-night itineraries from £1,429pp including flights. exodus.co.uk
Best ski and snowboard breaks for the unexpected
Escape the crowds in Hiroshima, Japan
Thanks to the Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, Japan is the current it destination in sports tourism. Throw in a legendary ski scene and you've got a country that's hard to resist. But skip the famed powder of Niseko and go off-piste (geddit?) at Geihoku in the Hiroshima prefecture. It's got 10km of slopes, five lifts and is easily reached thanks to its proximity to Hiroshima City.
Hit the slopes in summer in Squaw Alpine, California
Next summer, swap swimmers for snow at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe. No, we're not joking – the California resort had a record-breaking 2018-19 snowfall season that closed on 7 July, and eight metres of snow in February alone. But there's plenty of reasons to visit whether you go in summer or not: a high-speed quad chairlift that'll take you to the piste faster than you can say "après-ski"; a 1970s-style bar in a restored tram car; and more besides.
Need to know: Ski Solutions offers seven nights at The Village at Squaw from £1,215pp including flights. skisolutions.com
Combine snow and ancient history in Greece
Ancient history at the Acropolis; buzzing nightlife in Athens; beaches and calamari on the islands; and, er, skiing. Is there a holiday that Greece can't do? While the country is better known for its sun-drenched islands, 80% of Greece is mountainous, with its most popular peak Mount Parnassus measuring in at a lofty 2,260m – and easily reached from Athens. What's more, the slopes are much-loved by Greeks, but not so well-known elsewhere, which means more space for you to carve to your heart's content.