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Les Arcs in January 2020 - What weather to expect and what to do

Plenty of snow, quiet slopes and some spectacular events

Featured in: | Sam Birch, Les Arcs Reporter | Published
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January is truly the heart of the winter in Les Arcs. The Christmas and New Year’s crowds dissipate, the snow settles in and there is a whole month to enjoy everything the mountain has to offer. Inviting a mix of absolute beginners who are enticed by cheap ‘low-season’ prices and hardcore snow-fiends who want to stretch their legs on the quiet pistes, January is a stunning time to come to Les Arcs. Furthermore, there are a few exceptional events happening throughout the month that keep skiers and snowboarders occupied when not shredding the snow. 

Although the lifts have been open for a few weeks, January often feels like the ‘real’ start of the winter season. Typically, it is normally the first month of the year before the snow begins to arrive in earnest, opening up every area and turning the mountainside into an all-access playground for snowsports enthusiasts. This year we have fortunately seen incredible snowfall since November, so Les Arcs has already been liberally coated in the white stuff, with fantastic Christmas and New Year’s weeks as a result. However, January generally brings a huge quantity of snow, leading to powder days galore.

Will there be snow in January in Les Arcs?

Yes. 2020 may have only just begun but the snow base in Les Arcs is undeniably impressive. Current measurements are 155cm at 2000 metres altitude, with 215cm at the top of the ski area (the famous Aiguille Rouge). Furthermore, January traditionally brings more fresh snow than any other month with an average of nearly half a metre falling every week. This translates into approximately three powder days a week and, because there are fewer people about, the soft snow stays around for longer allowing you more fresh lines both on- and off-piste.

Les Arcs Snow Report & Forecast

So it is quieter in January in Les Arcs then?

January is normally the quietest time on the mountain. When compared with December, when school holidays, the festive environment and a ubiquitous desire to celebrate see above-average visitor numbers in all the resorts, January can feel almost deserted on the pistes. This is partly due to fewer ski pass sales but also the reduced traffic on the slopes makes it easier to keep all sectors open, providing a larger space for skiers to enjoy. One beneficial side-effect of this reduced demand is the availability of cut-price deals throughout the month, on everything from accommodation to flights, and transfers to ski hire.

Fortunately, whilst January can seem idyllically underpopulated on the pistes, the resorts remain lively – there are a higher proportion of adult skiers in January (as the school holidays have finished), so the restaurants, bars and clubs are still well-frequented and the all-important après ski is definitely not neglected. In addition to the regular afternoon on-pistes parties (like WTF and Neon at La Folie Douce above Arc 1800), live comedy evenings (see Mont Blanc Bar in Vallandry) and scheduled DJ sets (check out Bar King Mad in Arc 1800), there are some big events that light up specific resorts throughout the month.

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What’s on in Les Arcs this January 2020?

Launch Pad Freestyle Competition – 4th-5th January 2020
First up is Launch Pad, a big air freestyle competition in the snow park above Arc 1600/Arc 1800. Featuring some of France’s top skiers and snowboarders, including at least one big air world champion, Saturday, January 4th is an all-day practice session, whilst Sunday 5th features a morning of qualifying rounds, before the finals in the afternoon. With competitors flying through the air, doing gravity-defying tricks, grabs and spins, it is a must-see event to kick off the new year. 

Snowparks in Les Arcs

Russian Christmas Week – 4th-10th January 2020
Following immediately afterwards is Russian Christmas week in Arc 1950. The main event is the fashion show on Monday, January 6th, which features an open-air catwalk with models wearing the latest winter styles, a live DJ, oysters, champagne, a laser show and fireworks. Starting at around 18:00, it’s quite an eclectic mix but definitely worth a visit.

Events in Les Arcs

Pierre Blanche Ski Mountaineering Race – 9th January 2020
Next up on the calendar is an event that utilises both the long January nights and the physical fitness of its participants: the Pierre Blanche. A convivial exploit open to everyone, this is an evening ski-touring event which involves a 2.3km hike up the mountain (430 metres of ascent) before skiing back down. Entry cost only €5, includes a free post-ski buffet and registration starts from 17:30 at La Coupole in Arc 1600.

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E-Fat Bike Challenge – 21st-22nd January 2020
If you are looking for something a bit different but still involving snowy downhill, why not sign up for the E-Fatbike challenge in Arc 1950? Featuring nocturnal stages through the village, fat-biking is essentially downhill cycling on bikes with massively oversized wheels. Set up as a time-trial, the quickest racers will qualify for a final round, with the winner taking away a brand-new electric fat-bike. The event will happen on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd January.

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Freeride Week – 18th January-2nd February 2020
Finally, the biggest thing to happen in January is probably Freeride Week. Also having Arc 1950 as its base, there are events stretched out from the 18th to the 2nd February, with internationally-renowned freeriders competing in World championship qualifiers in Les Arcs. The first major episode is the Junior 3* stage on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th January. There are then three stages, including a highly-prized 4*-rated contest, for the established professionals from the 29th January. Throughout this entire period, incredible skill and fearlessness will be on show as athletes practice for the points-scoring events and ultimately compete to qualify for the Freeride World Championship Tour.

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Read more from Sam on his blog.​

More inspiration...

These may be the headliners but there is always something going on in the Les Arcs resorts, with welcome drinks a usual feature of the villages’ snow fronts on a Sunday evening. You can make early “first tracks” before the lifts open, go cross-country ski joëring pulled by a horse, play laser games, compete in a parallel slalom race, have a snowball fight or do a little night skiing. Check out our events calendar for more ideas.

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Events in Les Arcs