Best Ski Resorts For Christmas

Matt Angeli

When it comes to the most magical time of the year to ski, Christmas definitely gets our vote. Snow-capped trees, twinkling lights, crackling fires; where better to spend the festive period with family and friends than in the mountains?

Whether you’re after a cosy cabin or a luxury hotel, it’s your first time skiing or you’re a powder pro, or you’re simply looking for those little extra touches to make it a Christmas that the kids will never forget, we’ve got you covered. These are the very best ski resorts for Christmas, where you’re guaranteed that fabulous festive feeling.

We all dream of a white Christmas, so it’s an unsurprisingly popular time to ski and booking early is essential to secure your preferred dates, flights, resort and accommodation. Check out our Christmas ski offers for an idea of prices and what’s available, or keep reading for our top recommendations.


A Premium Festive Programme in Gausta

Ski Safari's latest resort, Gausta is fast becoming a family favourite. It's clear to see why when you look at the outstanding children's programme the resort has put together over the Christmas period.  

The excitement will be hard to contain with an extra special build-up to Christmas starting with a visit to Santa's workshop on the 23rd to watch the elves sorting presents for delivery the following day. Christmas Eve is when lasting family memories are created when you ski with Santa as he hands out presents to the little ones!

On Christmas Day, Gausta's two mascots Huski and Flax will be making a special appearance in the children's ski area in the morning to ski with the kids. In the afternoon, it's time to find out who's the fastest in the family when it comes to sledding as races are held from 15:30 until 16:45.

The fun doesn't stop there! Families are invited for a boogie at the kids afterski from 4.30pm-6pm, hosted at the Gaustasalen in the centre of the town, and on the 27th there's a spot of marshmallow grilling in the afternoon.

Family Skiing in Gausta © Norway Home of Skiing
Enjoy spending time on the slopes as a family when the kids aren't having a blast taking part in all the activities © Norway Home of Skiing

Aside from the first-class Christmas programme for the kids, skiing Gausta's terrain is a joy for all abilities. Even in a peak period like Christmas, the beginner runs don't get clogged up, so families can comfortably ski and progress together. Beneath the lifts, advanced parents can find steeper runs and fresh powder to play in.

The accommodation across the resort is ski-in ski-out, with convenient ski hire and ski school points to make getting to the slopes in the morning a breeze.

And you can forget any fretful weather-watching as your holiday approaches. Gausta is a snow-sure destination close to 1,000m above sea level and on average over 40cm of snow falls throughout December, so you and the family are promised a magical white Christmas!

Gaustablikk Fjellresort - Floating Sauna
Swap the traditional Christmas day sea swim with a dip in Gausta’s frozen lake (followed by swiftly warming up in the sauna afterwards!)

Where to stay: The 4* Gaustablikk Fjellresort is our suggestion for families visiting Gausta at Christmas. This accommodation boasts a full complement of facilities including a pool with steam room, sauna and jacuzzi, shuffleboard, table tennis and a kids' room filled with toys and activities to entertain the little ones. How nice would it be not having to cook Christmas dinner this year... especially when it's crafted by the award-winning master chef Melker Andersson and cooked by the talented on-site chefs!

What our customers say about Gausta: "An excellent resort. An easy journey to get there and gorgeous snow when we did. Everyone was friendly and helpful and the atmosphere was cosy. A gorgeous place and one we’d certainly go back to." - Adam W Dixon-Smith

Feel Right at Home in Beginner-Friendly Geilo

If you're new to skiing, but still love the idea of spending Christmas on the slopes, we highly recommend choosing a resort where you’ll feel at ease and Geilo should be high on your list. Unintimidating runs, excellent snow-sure conditions and homely accommodation make this resort the ideal starting point for unsure skiers.

First-class for families and first-timers, Geilo has an award-winning ski school with English-speaking instructors who will nurture you towards confidence on your skis. It has a superb crèche set at the base of the runs and a fantastic range of family-friendly activities in and around the resort, so if it doesn't come together for you on the slopes, there'll still be plenty to keep both parents and kids occupied.

A couple shares a smooch on the slopes © Paul Lockhart
Not just for families, Geilo’s a beautiful resort for a romantic Christmas getaway © Paul Lockhart

Spending Christmas in Geilo is a truly special experience. You can enjoy festive dinners in cosy restaurants, wander through the outstanding Christmas market, or even make yourself comfortable under a blanket on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. The resort often puts special Christmas events on - such as 2022’s ‘ice concert’, a unique concert with instruments made solely from ice.

Getting there is also part of the charm. Geilo sits on the world-famous Oslo to Bergen railway line and you can easily add a stay in either city to soak up the festivities. Both are home to fantastic Christmas markets for last-minute present buying too!

Snow-laden Geilolia Forest Cabins at dusk
The typically Norwegian Geilolia Forest Cabins are set in amongst pine trees right at the base of the slopes

Where to stay: Nothing says ‘Christmas ski holiday’ like a cosy log cabin in the woods. The 4* Geilolia Forest Cabins. are dotted among the trees right at the base of the slopes, with a choice of three, four or five bedrooms for families and groups of all sizes. They’re stocked with firewood to keep a roaring fire going in the evenings and each has a private sauna to relax like a Norwegian. It’ll feel like your own little house for the week. Plus, as a special treat for the kids, you can pay to have a Christmas tree and box of decorations waiting on your arrival to get them straight into the festive spirit.

Or if you’d prefer the convenience of half board dining and on-site facilities, the 4*+ Vestlia Resort houses a large children's play area, a family indoor pool with an epic slide, plus bowling, a cinema and a games room so the kids will never get bored. For couples (or parents looking for some peace and quiet), the luxurious 1,000m² spa is one of our favourites. With saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, and beauty and massage treatments available, it’ll be your most relaxing Christmas ever.

What our customers say about Geilo: "A winter wonderland for Christmas! So beautiful and of course just piles and piles of white sparkly snow." Lucinda Webber


Eclectic Activities and Floodlit Skiing in Åre

With 1,000 acres of terrain, Åre carries the mantle of Scandinavia's largest ski area. After more than a decade of skiing here, we’re still discovering new spots to ski, and with so much varied terrain, there's plenty to keep beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers occupied. And whereas some Scandinavian resorts have limited daytime skiing time due to their northerly latitude, Åre keeps the lights on, offering floodlit skiing until 8pm.

Travel in December and you can look forward to sharing in some memorable festivities with the Swedes. Snow-laden trees are lit by thousands of lights, shops and restaurants are beautifully decorated and the village square hosts a resplendent Christmas tree. Don’t be surprised if you see the occasional reindeer too!

A herd of reindeer in Åre © Johan Huczkowsky SkiStar
We wouldn't say you're guaranteed to see reindeer in Åre but they are around! © Johan Huczkowsky

The food alone is a reason to visit Åre. A traditional Swedish Christmas dinner is served as a smörgåsbord of dishes, from pickled herring to hand-knotted sausages and lots of different cold-cut meats served with home-cooked mulled wine.

You'll have no trouble keeping busy off the slopes, the resort and town offer all the classic winter activities - plus a few more eclectic ones. Visit Tännforsen, home to Sweden's largest waterfall and a spectacular igloo village. Stimulate your tastebuds at the chocolate factory, which produces around 30 flavours of chocolate, caramel and truffle. Or head into town where you’ll find some of Sweden's best après bars and more than 60 restaurants - there’s a reason Åre’s has earnt itself the name ‘Little Stockholm’!

A view of Copperhill Mountain Lodge from the slopes
Copperhill Mountain Lodge offers family-friendly 5* luxury right on the slopes

Where to stay: The prestigious 5* Copperhill Mountain Lodge. is an exceptional hotel set right in the treeline on the edge of the slopes. The luxurious design, impeccable service, fine-dining restaurant and award-winning spa with breathtaking panoramic views make it ideal for romance. But you might be surprised to hear that it’s a family favourite too! There’s a fantastic kids club and games area, ski rentals are on-site and the restaurants are child-friendly too with a special buffet when staying half board.

If you'd prefer to be closer to the action, the boutique 4* Hotel Fjällgården is a fantastic alternative. Overlooking Åre village (which you can access in less than 10 minutes on the Bergbana funicular), it’s a proper skier’s hotel where you’re quickly made to feel at home. You couldn’t get closer to the lifts if you tried, and it’s where you’ll find Åre’s best ‘afterski’ from 3pm to 6pm every day!

What our customers say about Åre: "Super friendly resort with runs from easy greens to tricky blacks. The snow was superb, even at Christmas, and there was plenty of skiing for a week, stretching along the valley. It's much colder than the Alps, but so long as you wear the right kit, that's not an issue. The views along the valley and the frozen lake are beautiful. Not many English people here, but everyone speaks English, so getting around is easy. Highly recommended." - Naomi Roberts


Discover the Ultimate Winter Wonderland in Whistler

Not only does Whistler boast North America's largest ski area, with a colossal 8,000 acres of world-class terrain, few resorts do it better when it comes to creating a winter wonderland for Christmas.

The visual beauty of the town during December is hard to surpass. It's a place where no branch or twig is left unadorned by fairy lights, the luminous web of decorations creating a stunning visual array through the resort. Hotels go out of their way to add some extra sparkle with giant Christmas trees in lobbies, dazzling decorations and special Christmas events and activities from s’mores to fireside stories.

Santa Ski Day in Whistler Blackcomb © Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
Santa Ski Day is an annual tradition in Whistler © Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane

There’s always something going on in Whistler, but at Christmas, the festivities ramp up a notch. As you wander around the village you’re likely to bump into carol singers or Santa and his elves. Whole areas are dedicated to festive activities including Afterglow at the Olympic Plaza and Wintersphere at the Conference Centre. The resort is so dedicated to Christmas that every year on 15 December, hundreds of skiing Mr and Mrs Clauses take to the slopes for ‘Ski with Santa Day’!

Even the season-long activities feel particularly festive, such as the weekly Fire & Ice Show and ice skating under the twinkling lights. The snow helps too - Whistler typically receives just under three metres in November and December, providing the perfect base and picturesque scenes by Christmas.

I can personally attest to how magical Whistler feels at Christmas, having visited in early December just as the lights were beginning to turn on. Read my trip report to learn more.

Fairmont Cheateau is Whistler's flagship accommodation option
The imposing Fairmont Chateau Whistler is hard to miss at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, especially when lit up with Christmas lights! © Brad Kasselman

Where to stay: If you're looking for a luxurious stay right by the lifts, you should opt for Whistler's landmark property, the 5* Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Each room and suite is classically styled, and the bars and restaurants are superb. For a special treat book in for the Christmas Gala Dinner, a festive feast accompanied by the Tony Barton Orchestra.

Or for a more intimate retreat that is perfect for couples, we recommend the 4* Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel - it's colourful, quirky and just five minutes from the gondolas.

What our customers say: "Our second Christmas trip to Whistler and this one was even better: the resort is so easy to navigate around, and with the tips from Ski Safari about where best to eat as well as how to avoid the lift queue lines, we made the most of a fabulous ski area." - Mark Sewell

Spend Christmas Like a Local in Banff

Banff is an excellent option if you're travelling at Christmas. Hugely popular with Brits, the town has a genuine Canadian vibe and a range of fantastically festive attractions, including a charming Christmas market, a delicious hot chocolate trail and an enchanting interactive storytelling walk.

One of the main appeals of Banff is that it’s an authentic mountain town where people live and work, so spending Christmas here feels more real and less manufactured. The whole town is lit up with typical North American extravagance and there are so many ways to get into the spirit of Christmas. One of them quite literally - an interactive walk through the Cascade of Time Garden called ‘In Seach of Christmas Spirit’! Other unique activities include the Hot Chocolate Trail, where 20+ restaurants compete to create the best and most interesting hot chocolate, while the brilliant Christmas Market features over 100 stalls and the chance to meet Santa and his reindeer.

Christmas Couple on Banff Avenue © Noel Hendrickson
Twinkling lights only add to the magic of strolling down Banff Avenue © Noel Hendrickson

Banff also offers a winter wonderland of an altogether different power. The three nearby ski areas of Mt Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are set within the incredible vistas and rugged mountain peaks of Banff National Park.

Wherever you ski you'll have stunning views, but you don't even have to leave the town to see it - take a walk along Banff Avenue and you'll see the dramatically shaped Cascade Mountain looming up before you. Or why not take the Banff Gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain on a rest day? Aside from more soaring views, throughout the Christmas period, you’ll discover a ‘Mountaintop Christmas’ with kids' activities and special treats, plus an immersive light experience in the evenings.

Rooftop hot tubs at the Moose Hotel and Suites
Relaxing in a rooftop hot tub at the Moose Hotel and Suites is the perfect way to take in rocky mountain views

Where to stay: Where better to enjoy those beautiful Banff views than from the rooftop hot tubs at the 4*+ Moose Hotel and Suites? The beautifully furnished (Moose-themed of course) hotel had a range of room types for couples and families plus a great Italian restaurant on-site.

Alternatively, for the best value and best location, the 3*+ Elk + Avenue Hotel is perfectly placed in downtown Banff. Winter is low season in Banff, so you might be surprised by the rates considering the quality of the Rocky Mountains-inspired hotel.

What our customers say about Banff: "Banff is as it seems, a lovely town with lots of shops, restaurants and amenities alongside amazing views and short journeys to great skiing / boarding! The town has a fantastic small community feel with everyone we met being very friendly. The restaurants cater from cheap and cheerful to gourmet, so caters for all tastes. We would love to return." - Dominic Balfe


Glitz and Glamour in Aspen Snowmass

Aspen Snowmass is another resort that pulls out the stops for Christmas. The decorations create a dazzling visual display in keeping with the town's glitz and glamour. Aspen has a booming après scene with over 100 bars and restaurants, so if it's high spirits and local charm you're looking for, this is an excellent choice!

You’ll find a whole host of Christmas events both on and off the slopes. The ‘12 Days of Aspen’ kicks off on 20 December with daily events and activities including ice skating, Santa and his reindeer, hot chocolate and s’mores, live music carol singing and more (there’s also the ‘12 Days of Après for the grown-ups). Wintersköl is Aspen’s ‘toast to winter’ - a four day event dating back to 1951 which culminates in a torchlit descent down Aspen Mountain, fireworks and a bonfire.

Christmas Day in Aspen is particularly special © Dan Bayer
Aspen has a reputation to keep, so expect twinkling lights at every turn © Dan Bayer

While the town attracts the rich and famous, the ski terrain attracts all abilities, from the gentle green runs at Buttermilk to the rolling intermediate groomers of Snowmass to the serious steeps at Aspen Highlands.

If you’re staying as a family, you may want to consider basing yourself at Snowmass Village - a fantastic, recently-developed base area which offers a quiet alternative to Aspen town. The accommodation is ski-in ski-out, the ski school is award-winning and there’s a wonderful ice rink in the centre. And while it runs season-long, the interactive Snowmass Luminescence art display lends a festive feel to the area.

Aspen from above at night © Dan Bayer
Stay in the heart of the action in Aspen town at the Limelight Hotel © Dan Bayer

Where to stay: Despite a renovation for winter 2021/22, the 4*+ Limelight Hotel Aspen is one of the few remaining genuine skiers’ hotels in Aspen town. It’s right in the middle of the town, just 5-10 minutes from Aspen Mountain’s Silver Queen Gondola, and boasts some brilliant benefits including complimentary Fresh Tracks, ski guiding and airport and in-town shuttle service.

What our customers say: "Aspen offers excellent skiing over four mountains, with good free transport links between them all, and generally fantastic conditions throughout the season. Courtesy on the mountain is exemplary; there are friendly ski patrollers to ensure that no one skis dangerously and to help you make the most of your Aspen skiing experience. There is lively après ski in many different bars, and there are numerous restaurants, from the cheap and cheerful to elegant fine dining: something to suit everybody's pocket. Aspen has a glitzy image, but it attracts many who are very far from wealthy; it doesn't have to be expensive if you do your homework." - Pauline Moore

Room for All the Family and Friends in Breckenridge

Another historic mining town in Colorado, Breckenridge is a laid-back resort with a ski area that’s genuinely good for all abilities.

Instead of glitzy luxury hotels, the accommodation here tends to be condos of all shapes and sizes so you’re covered no matter the size of your family or group. Ideal for any kind of Christmas get-together! The condos tend to be spacious often with full kitchens and real fireplaces, a real home from home.

There's an authentically American feel on Main Street, Breckenridge © Carl Scofield
Breckenridge’s colourful Main Street is even prettier when it’s lit up at Christmas © Jack Affleck

It’s not just the accommodation that suits everyone. The skiing is spread over five peaks and caters to all abilities from complete beginners to experts. The cruisy blues are some of the best in the world, while the bowls and hike-to terrain will test even the best skiers and snowboarders.

If you're travelling during the holiday season, Breckenridge has plenty of boxes ticked. Full of North American charm, the town is home to friendly and relaxed locals and the colourful town centre is illuminated by a quarter of a million LED lights. Breckenridge also has a quirky programme of events through December, including the Santa Race when hundreds of Father Christmas lookalikes try to beat each other to the end of Mainstreet.

Pine Ridge Condos set against stunning mountain backdrops
The Village condos are perfectly placed for both the lifts and the shops, bars and restaurants of Main Street

Where to stay: If you're looking to spend Christmas away with a large group of friends or family, Breckenridge has some fantastic condo options. 3*+ The Village has a superb position at the bottom of Peak 9 shops, restaurants and ice skating on Maggie Pond right on the doorstep. It’s also next door to the ski school and creche so ideal for families.

Alternatively, the 3*+ Pine Ridge Condos offers the best value in resort with a cosy, Western feel. They’re just a short walk from the Snowflake Lift (ski-in on the Four O’Clock Run) and Main Street’s shops, bars and restaurants.

What our customers say about Breckenridge: "Great town to stay in, excellent skiing for all levels of skiing from our 10 year old on lower slope greens and blues to those capable of double black diamonds, something for everyone. Town has loads of choice of restaurants, good supermarkets and shops to browse in the evenings." - Jonathan Robinson


Picture-Perfect Skiing in Zermatt

When it comes to ski resorts, Switzerland has style like nowhere else, and Zermatt in particular is in a class of its own. The famous village is a prosperous place, with more designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels than your average resort. But there’s also a feeling of old-world charm with horse-drawn sleighs jingling down narrow, cobbled lanes.

It’s impossible to talk about Zermatt without mentioning the iconic Matterhorn which catches your eye at every turn both in the village and on the slopes. It’s the most photographed mountain in the world and guarantees some classic holiday snaps.

Zermatt sits in the shadow of the Matterhorn © Leander Wenger
The pretty village of Zermatt has perhaps the most famous backdrop in the world thanks to the iconic Matterhorn © Leander Wenger

Due to its altitude, Zermatt tends to have fantastic snow over Christmas - in fact, you can ski there all year round on the Theodul Glacier! It’s the most popular time to visit as the whole village is lit up - not just the streets and hotels but the locals’ houses too. It’s exactly the image that comes to mind for most Brits when they think of a typical Christmas ski holiday.

A proper winter destination, Zermatt excels when it comes to activities. Torchlit toboggan rides, tasty fondue, the extraordinary Igloo Village, or for a once-in-a-lifetime experience take a scenic helicopter ride around the Matterhorn.

Zermatt is great for skiers of all abilities but excels for experts. Once you’ve warmed up on the slopes, hire a guide, join a hut-to-hut tour or go heli-skiing and earn the ultimate bragging rights.

The small, alpine style Hotel Daniela
The Hotel Daniela is tucked away in the quieter side of town

Where to stay: Zermatt can be lively in the evenings, so for a quieter stay opt for the small, alpine-style 4* Hotel Daniela. It feels boutique with just 23 rooms featuring rustic-chic furnishings and wood-panelled ceilings. The Gädi SPA is a fantastic place to unwind in the evenings, and you’ll also have access to the larger Julen Spa down the road.

What our customers say about Zermatt: "Beautiful resort. Like skiing in a Christmas card, and the train up is the best way to a ski run ever experienced." - Sally McKone


Snow is Falling All Around in Niseko

For an entirely different perspective on Christmas, how about spending a fascinating festive period in Niseko? The Japanese celebrate Christmas in a seemingly opposite way to westerners. It’s not a national holiday, but it’s a time of parties, going out to restaurants and romance - Christmas Eve is actually their equivalent of Valentine's Day! It won't be what you're used to, but the incredibly friendly Japanese people will still fill you with plenty of good cheer.

While undeniably Japanese, Niseko is the most westernised of Japan’s ski resorts so you can still expect twinkling trees and visits from Santa. Many of the restaurants put on a special Christmas dinner so you can even swap tonkatsu for turkey on the day itself.

The evenings here feel magical, whether you’re skiing under floodlit slopes, relaxing in the soothing onsen or sampling delicious food and local tipples in buzzing Hirafu Village.

Jack and Scarlett in Niseko with Mount Yōtei in the background
Ski Safari's Scarlett and Jack enjoy pristine snow in Niseko in December 2022

One of the main reasons to visit Niseko in December, however, is the snow. Peak powder season may be January to February, but if you want to get ahead of the crowds we think December can be just as good. It snowed 27 days out of 31 in December 2022, much to the delight of our team who visited in the middle of the month and were blessed with a few days of world-famous ‘Japow’.

The resort is blissfully quiet in December, perfect for practising those powder turns, and you’re more likely to have a few clear days which are better for beginners and those sticking to the well-groomed pistes.

An onsen at the Green Leaf
The onsen at The Green Leaf is the perfect way to get back to nature - nude bathing surrounded by snow-capped trees

Where to stay: Our favourite place to stay in Niseko is the ever-popular 4* The Green Leaf. The ski-in ski-out hotel is perfect for those looking for easy access to the mountain. While you're there, the onsen is a must-visit. It’s one of the most beautiful in Niseko with separate indoor and outdoor pools for men and women (you bathe nude in onsen!) If you still want the experience of bathing in natural spring waters without having to bare all, there’s also an outdoor thermal pool. The Goshiki buffet restaurant comes highly recommended by our team - especially the traditional hot pot.

What our customers say: "Great resort, good lift system which linked the resorts together when the conditions allowed. Amazing views of Mount Yotei when clear. Snow was amazing even early in the season with a lot of varied runs and off-piste through the trees. We also found lots of nice bars and restaurants." - Claire Hay

Book Now for Christmas 2024

For more advice or a tailor-made price for any of the resorts above, enquire online or call us on 01273 224060. Our team have skied in all of them and even lived in a few!

Or if you’re looking for more inspiration, take a look at our Christmas Ski Offers for the latest prices and offers.

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