Where to Ski in December

Archie Hampshire

As the mountains transform from green to white, December is the month many resorts around the world open their doors to skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts and chairlifts begin to whirr again. But which resorts are best for early season skiing?

Being on the mountain early in the season shares many of the same advantages as late season skiing. Shorter lift lines, less crowded slopes and usually more availability.

While the beginning and end of the winter season have similar perks, those that opt to ski pre-Christmas are rewarded in extra ways.

The staff are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed which enhances the friendly vibe around the resorts, the rental equipment will be fresh out of the box and you're likely to find great offers for your holiday. Plus, you’ll enjoy a bit of pre-Christmas twinkle as the lights start going up at the beginning of the month.

The trick to skiing early in the season is finding a resort that guarantees a crucial ingredient; December snow. Luckily, our ski specialists have put their heads together and produced a list of the best resorts to ski in December.

Eager to be the first on the slopes this year? Get the (snow)ball rolling by calling one of our ski specialists on 01273 224060 or enquiring online.

Where to Ski in Norway in December

Norefjell - snow and world-class spa

Less than two hours from Oslo is a tranquil resort relatively unknown to the UK ski market. Like most ski areas in Norway, Norefjell's terrain is well suited for beginners and improvers but also offers steeper runs for more confident skiers.

If you fancy some time away from the slopes, there's no better place to relax than the Norefjell Ski & Spa. Having personally stayed there, I can confidently tell you the facilities are up there with the best in Norway and there's something for all the family.

Outdoor Hot Tubs at Norefjell Ski & Spa
Aaaand relax... at the Norefjell Ski & Spa

Where to stay in Norefjell

As previously mentioned, the 4*+ Norefjell Ski & Spa is an outstanding hotel boasting facilities that'll keep you living a life of luxury. It'll bring a smile to your face when you think back to enjoying a glass of bubbly in the outdoor infinity pool whilst being showered with snowflakes. It does for me!

The kids will always be entertained with an indoor climbing wall, air hockey table, pool table and a large indoor swimming pool.

What our customers say about Norefjell

"A beautiful calm resort away from the heavy crowds. The Ski & Spa Hotel was perfect for our family stay - we stayed happily cocooned in the hotel during the evenings with the swimming pool and saunas at our disposal." Amruta Lacy-Colson

Trysil - ski at sunrise and under floodlights

A visit to Trysil in December is completely unique. As you sit on the first lift of the day at 9am, the sky behind the rolling mountains will be exploding with orange and yellow as the sun begins to rise over the resort. Once you've admired the sunrise, it's time to enjoy cruising down Trysil's well-groomed slopes.

Whilst the days are shorter in December, you can still enjoy skiing right into the evening. The slopes are lit up from 4:30 until 8pm which leaves plenty of time to grab a drink afterwards and have a dance at one of the popular bars like Laaven 1790.

Trysil Sunrise © SkiStar
Knowing a great day of skiing (or boarding) is ahead as the sun rises over Trysil

Where to stay in Trysil

After a rewarding day's skiing, you can head straight from the slopes to the magnificent 4*+ Radisson Blu Resort Trysil, where you'll then spend the rest of the evening exploring the incredible facilities within the accommodation. Dine in a selection of restaurants, go bowling or, if skiing wasn't enough, have a go at surfing on the indoor FlowRider wave!

Radisson Blu Resort Trysil © Ola Matsson / SkiStar
The Radisson Blu Resort Trysil is based on the slopes for the ultimate ski-in ski-out experience

What our customers say about Trysil

"We loved the resort! Everything was easy to access from the hotel, and it was very clean and well maintained. Very impressed with the quality of food in the restaurants too. The ski instructors were excellent and there wasn’t too much queueing at the lifts compared to French resorts that we have been to in the past. We were lucky with blue skies every day and some fresh snow." - Tas Clay

Kvitfjell - for the families

For a family of first-timers, rusty skiers, or even those more experienced, Kvitfjell's range of gentle and more challenging terrain provides a great mix for everyone to enjoy. The family-friendly resort receives consistent snowfall from late autumn and is regularly one of the first resorts to open for skiing each winter, even as early as November.

For more confident skiers, there are several dedicated off-piste areas where you can get in your first powder turns of the season and the highly rated Olympiabakken downhill course, which hosts the World Cup each year.

A family has fun on the Kvitfjell slopes © Norway Home of Skiing
December fun for all the family in Kvitfjell © Norway Home of Skiing

Where to stay in Kvitfjell

GudbrandsGard Hotel Birdseye view
A perfect choice for families and couples alike, the location and facilities couldn't be better at the GudbrandsGard Hotel

When taking your family on a skiing holiday, the accommodation has to be practical and comfortable, and that's precisely what the 4* GudbrandsGard Hotel is. There's minimal fuss with the rental shop located on-site and the ski school on the hotel's doorstep, so you and the kids can enjoy more time skiing and less time faffing!

What our customers say about Kvitfjell

"Kvitfjell is a perfect family resort. It's incredibly quiet and it has plenty to keep you entertained for a week's skiing. The pistes are mostly intermediate with open groomed runs, but because it's so quiet you can really enjoy fast carving if you are a more experienced skier. It means families can ski together on most runs" Andrew D

Where to Ski in Canada in December

Whistler - White from November

It's no secret Whistler is one of the best ski resorts in the world. However, not everyone knows about the generous amounts of early-season snowfall it receives each year. November provides a solid foundation layer of snow, averaging over 2 metres across the month. Perfectly timed for the lifts opening!

Snowboarding in Whistler
Cruising through Whistler's early season snow

Naturally, Whistler's reputation attracts a lot of visitors eager to experience its exceptional qualities first-hand. To enhance your skiing time at Canada's highly regarded winter playground, visit before Christmas and avoid the crowds and lift queues.

Where to stay in Whistler

Ideal for couples, the 4* Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel is a boutique retreat located in Whistler Village, five minutes from bars, restaurants and lifts. The Summit's high standards have made it extremely popular amongst Ski Safari guests and it's a team favourite too.

Summit Lodge Offer
Complimentary perks at the Summit Lodge include a shuttle service to and from the mountain, equipment storage, snowshoe rentals and free hot drinks all day.

What our customers say about Whistler

"The two mountains offered endless fun. We enjoyed tree runs and deep powdered bowls. The town was fun, buzzy and beautifully Christmassy, with plenty of food options, bars and experiences." - Charlie Killingbeck

Banff - spectacular scenery for skiing and skating

The town is vibrant, the December snow is sure and the scenery is second to none. Banff is a bustling base town which spoils you for choice with options to ski Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. The area is awash with eye-catching December events including a craft beer festival, Christmas at the Castle and a Hot Chocolate Trail.

For those with ice skaters in the group, this is their opportunity to glide across the most beautiful ice rink in the world, Lake Louise. Surrounded by sensational mountain scenery and well-maintainted, we can't believe the lake is free to skate on. If you need a pair of skates, rentals are available at Chateau Ski Rentals.

Ice Skating on Lake Louise © Travel Alberta
You've never seen an ice rink quite like Lake Louise! © Travel Alberta

Where to stay in Banff

There's no better place to observe the rugged scenery surrounding the town than from the 4* Mount Royal Hotel's rooftop hot tub lounge. Banff also offers a ski shuttle service, which stops off at the back of the hotel, making your stay that more convenient.

Mount Royal Hotel, Banff Rooftop Hot Tubs From Lounge
The views from the rooftop hot tubs at the Mount Royal Hotel

What our customers say about Banff

"Absolutely stunning scenery and amazing skiing with 3 mountains to choose from. I’ve been there 11 times you can’t beat it." - Samantha Anderson

Where to Ski in the USA in December

Breckenridge - cost-effective Christmas

While we're in the UK listening to endless repeats of Mariah Carey for two months straight, across the pond, Breckenridge is pulling out all the stops in early December to give an authentic festive feeling outside of the Christmas week.

In the first week of December, you'll find hundreds of Santa look-alikes racing through the main street which is lined with over 25,000 twinkling holiday lights. On 09 December, there's Ullr Fest, a family-friendly party to praise the Norse god of snow in hopes of a powder-filled ski season (which Breckenridge always gets!). Visiting in early December is a wonderful festive experience, without the peak season Christmas prices.

Christmas Breckenridge Town © Affleck
Festive lights along Breckenridge's Main Street in December © Affleck

Where to stay in Breckenridge

Comfortable and catering for small or large families, 3*+ The Village is an excellent choice when travelling with kids. The condos are ski-in ski-out and next door to the children's ski school and creche. Having these close to your accommodation makes your holiday far more simple and easygoing!

The Village in Breckenridge
The Village is right at the bottom of Peak 9

What our customers say about Breckenridge

"Never fails to live up to expectations - something for everyone on the vast slopes. Genuine old town atmosphere with a wide range of shops, restaurants and leisure facilities. Excellent transportation system. No one will be disappointed on the slopes." Frances Jones

Aspen Snowmass - for intermediate & advanced early birds

Picture this, you're the first of your friends to hit the slopes this season. While they're getting rained on in the UK, you've just clicked into your skis and have acres of snow-covered terrain in front of you on opening day... Aspen Snowmass is where to turn this dream into a reality. 

Home to four vast ski areas in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Aspen Snowmass promises to deliver fresh snow right off the bat and is suited to intermediate and advanced skiers in need of a powder fix as early as possible.

Solo skier on a blue bird day in Aspen Snowmass © Catherine Aepel
This is what we'll be thinking about all summer before opening day! © Catherine Aepel

Where to stay in Aspen Snowmass

For enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders, your passion for the slopes deserves to be rewarded off the slopes with a luxury ski-in ski-out hotel. The 5* Limelight Hotel Snowmass is great value and after a day of tackling the steeps, you can drop your gear in the ski storage and head straight to the pool and spa to unwind.

Limelight Hotel Snowmass Outdoor Lounge
The Limelight Hotel has a lively après scene on the terrace

What our customers say about Aspen Snowmass

"Snowmass far exceeded our expectations! The snow and pistes were excellent and almost empty during our entire visit. Customer service in the resort was great, including free coffee/hot apple juice in the mornings, free s’mores, Ambassadors who were available twice a day for free guiding, and lift crews were friendly and helpful. The resort is really well laid out and had everything we needed." Tracy Stonehouse

Where to Ski in Switzerland in December

Zermatt - no chance there's no snow

How can you be sure a resort is going to have snow in December? Because it's open all year round! Zermatt boasts the highest pistes in the Alps, a skiable glacier and by December, there's a good network of pistes linking all three areas of the resort. Switzerland's most famous resort is a safe bet when it comes to securing some early-season fun for all abilities.

It's worth noting you can ski in two countries with the Italian resort Cervinia just next door and now more accessible than ever due to the state-of-the-art Alpine Crossing. Here you can carve your way through Italy's long runs before hopping back over to enjoy more of the best Switzerland has to offer!

Skiing in front of the Matterhorn © Michael Portmann/Zermatt
The iconic Matterhorn is visible almost everywhere you go in Zermatt © Michael Portmann

Where to stay in Zermatt

Because the snow is guaranteed in Zermatt, you'll need a comfortable hotel to relax at after a full day out on the slopes. The 4* Hotel Daniela is bursting with character, featuring wood-panelled ceilings, rustic-chic furnishings and all the amenities which make for a relaxing stay. In this Alpine-style hotel, you'll have access to a spa, hot tub and pool where you'll soak away any potential aches.

Hotel Daniela Gädi Spa
It's a huge bonus having the option to relax in a spa after skiing

Where to Ski in Japan in December

Niseko - ideal weather and peaceful slopes

For most, skiing in Japan is a once or maybe twice in a lifetime experience. With this in mind, you'll want to get the timing right. Early December is the perfect time to visit Niseko and find good snow, but without the (possibly intimidating) deepest powder, and if you're looking to save money and visit in a quieter period. You'll be greeted by mild weather and clearer skies, making the picturesque backdrop of Mt. Yotei even more visible and the skiing extremely pleasant. (If Niseko's renowned powder is what you're on the hunt for, we would recommend waiting until the colder months of January and February.)

If lessons are top of your priority list, you'll have no trouble getting one at a time which suits you, with the resort being particularly quiet at this period in the season. Additionally, a peaceful resort also results in you being able to enjoy fresh tracks with fewer people.

Mt. Yotei © Nicholas Farnell/Niseko
Skiing in Niseko makes you feel on top of the world, like our customer Nicholas Farnell

Where to stay in Niseko

It's a reasonably long journey to Japan, so it's worth staying in a hotel you know is going to tick all the boxes. Having won the World's Best Ski Boutique Hotel on several occasions at the World Ski Awards, 4*+ The Vale Niseko combines luxury and convenience with an overarching modern feel to it. It's ski-in ski-out and a short walk to the main village, all of which makes for a comfortable, stress-free stay.

The Vale Niseko - 2 Bedroom Mt Yotei View
With rooms like this, it's easy to see why The Vale is a popular choice for Ski Safari customers

What our customers say about Niseko

"Excellent resort. First-class skiing. Off-piste skiing is great. Short or non-existent queues for ski lifts. Great views of the neighbouring volcano." Nicholas Farnell

Rusutsu - a quirky award-winner

We've all been guilty of relentlessly refreshing the resort's weather page a week out from a ski holiday. It can be disappointing if the snow looks a bit hit-and-miss. Fear not - Rusutsu is usually covered in a thick layer of snow by December, which has consistently been the case for the last few seasons. In the rare event of poor snow conditions on the Rusutsu's slopes, the resort organises a shuttle bus for its guests to areas of the mountain with the best snow conditions that aren't connected by open lifts and runs.

Rusutsu was voted Japan's Best Ski Resort as recently as 2019 and prides itself on its excellent snow grooming and terrain for all abilities.

Snow Covered Rusutsu Ski Area
Blue skies and plenty of December snow at Rusutsu

Where to stay in Rusutsu

To really explore Rusutsu, the best hotel to stay at is the 3*+ Rusutsu Resort Hotel. Positioned on the slopes of the West Mountain, the East Gondola is close by and swiftly carries you to the East Mountain. The hotel has all the facilities you'll need to stay entertained after skiing, including hot springs and an indoor wave pool.

Rusutsu Resort Hotel - Exterior
An onsen, indoor wave pool and even a shopping mall, the Rusutsu Resort Hotel has it all

What our customers say about Rusutsu

"Fabulous skiing, so much space. A quirky resort but with lots of choices." - Steven Jones

Speak to a Specialist About Skiing in December

Our team are just as eager as you to get skiing as soon as the resorts open and we regularly ski in early December. For personal advice or a tailor-made price, enquire online or call us on 01273 224060.

Or if you’re still getting ideas, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for more tips and advice from our team plus the latest photos and stories from our customers.