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Christmas & New Year 2019 in Les Arcs - What weather to expect & what to do

A stocking-full of information about the festive season

Featured in: | Sam Birch, Les Arcs Reporter | Published
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It’s the most magical time of the year. The mountains have become a winter wonderland complete with abundant snow, twinkling fairy lights and the entwined intoxicating smells of wood-burning fires and gently simmering mulled wine wherever you go. There is nothing quite like skiing on Christmas day, as excited families enjoy the slopes between opening their presents and (over-)indulging themselves in hearty Christmas fayre. To help you have a wonderful, very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, here is all you need to know for the next couple of weeks.

The end of December is traditionally fun- and action-packed, with huge numbers of events and activities happening both on-piste and in the resorts to amuse and entertain holidaymakers and locals alike. As the shortest day of the year comes and goes, temperatures tend to drop and the winter really begins to set in, making evenings by the fire that little bit extra-special.

What’s on at Christmas in Les Arcs?

The Christmas events start off on Friday, December 20th as the grand market opens in Les Arc’s valley town, Bourg St Maurice. On the opening evening, you can expect delicious vin chaud and festive jazz from 18:00. The market is open all weekend, with local artisans selling a variety of wares, from arts and crafts to popular gift-ideas and, of course, all kinds of tasty nibbles and sweetmeats. Furthermore, Saturday 21st sees the arrival of Father Christmas who has taken time out of his busy schedule to meet the kids, pose for photos and distribute early presents. Sunday also has a full agenda of events, with shows and a reindeer walk (they presumably refrain from flying until Christmas Eve) through the town centre.

On Christmas Eve’s eve (Monday 23rd December) the Christmas village in Arc 1600 opens with free mulled wine and hot chocolate for everyone. There will be sweets, elaborate hats and a visit from Santa himself.

The next day (Christmas Eve proper) Arc 1600 will witness an unmissable torchlit descent into the resort at around 18:00. Over in Arc 1800, another slope-side Christmas village opens at 17:00 and Father Christmas will be meet-and-greeting, hot drinks will be flowing, luminous hats will be... well... luminous and it is guaranteed to be massively merry and fabulously festive. Harnessing the magic of Christmas, Vallandry's snow front also hosts Santa and his reindeer at a similar time (mulled wine and free sweets as convention dictates), with live music concerts following in the nearby Mojo and Mont Blanc bars. Down in Bourg St Maurice (from 16:30), there will be reindeers, a lamp-lit walk through the town and a final appearance from our jolly, bearded hero.

Christmas day is busy for most people: there are presents to open, refreshing beverages to quaff, snow to shred, movies to watch and entire feasts to consume... However, there are still a few events to fill up any brief moments of indecision. At lunchtime (11:00-13:00) Santa wanders around Peisey-Vallandry (normally near the ski lifts), ensuring that the day is sufficiently cheerful for everyone he encounters. Post-ski, Arc 1950 becomes the epicentre of festivity, with an incredibly spectacular Christmas parade, featuring sophisticated animations and decoratively-clothed wacky characters, who fill the picture-postcard central square.

Events in Les Arcs

What’s on at New Year in Les Arcs?

Partying and fireworks are the main course on New Year’s Eve (Tuesday 21st December), with a side order of torchlit skiing. Arc 1950 hosts an open-air extravaganza from 21:00 to midnight, with a non-stop DJ set culminating in a massive firework display. Vallandry's snow front sees a torchlit descent by ESF ski instructors at 18:00, accompanied by vin chaud and hot chocolate and followed by a firework display. Arc 1800’s final torchlit ski of 2019 is at 17:30, with fireworks just before midnight. Arc 1600’s torchlit descent at 17:15 is followed immediately by fireworks.

Practically every bar, club and restaurant on the mountain celebrates the start of the New Year and you can always find live music, DJ sets to suit every taste and a good old-fashioned shindig in every Les Arcs resort.

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What is the skiing like in Les Arcs over the Christmas holidays?

Christmas is at the very start of the winter season, so skiing can be something of a ‘mixed bag’ depending on snowfall and temperatures in the previous months. The high altitude pistes of Les Arcs (70% are above 2000 metres) always ensure plenty of ski-able areas but there can be lift closures at lower echelons depending on the weather. Fortunately, this year we have had excellent snow since early November and the pistes are subsequently in tremendous order. Most of the slopes are now open, snow depths are above average for this period, and there is plenty more snow forecast in the next few days.

Typically, the Christmas and New Year’s weeks are busier, with queues more likely, particularly at specific times and lift stations. The Pre St Esprit/Comborciere lifts at the bottom of the Arc 2000 bowl can become hotspots for crowds mid-morning and after lunch. Similarly, the Aiguille Rouge is very popular at these times, as is Arcabulle going up to the Col de la Chal. Happily, Les Arcs is so vast, with so many areas available to ski, that it is always possible to find quieter trails 'away from the beaten path.’ Excepting the Aiguille Rouge gondola, it is quite rare to queue for more than 10 minutes for a lift, even at the busiest times. If you are very impatient, Peisey-Vallandry is often a good destination for quieter runs, whilst skiing during lunchtime, very early, or after 15:00 are other sensible ways to find empty slopes. The Les Arcs Yuge app can also provide you with real-time information on lift status, including anticipated waiting times, to help you plan a delay-free tour of the mountain.

Les Arcs Snow Report & Forecast

What weather should I pack for?

A little bit of everything. Average temperatures are below 0°C and continue to drop throughout December. However, how this feels can vary wildly according to wind levels and sunshine. On a sunny day, -5°C can feel warm, whereas +5°C on an overcast day can feel very chilly. You can expect snow around three days a week at the end of the year, which can bring low visibility if it falls during the day. As mentioned, Christmas week is expected to start with heavy snowfall, bringing plenty of powder to the slopes. However, there may be a little disruption to the lifts due to accompanying strong winds. Hopefully, this will settle down on Monday, bringing more clement conditions for Christmas Eve and the big day itself.

Weather in Les Arcs

Read more from Sam on his blog.

More inspiration...

We have bang up-to-date snow reports, lift status information, weather forecasts and events calendars, so if there’s anything you want to find out, we should be able to help. Otherwise, have yourselves a merry little Christmas and a wonderful, happy and prosperous New Year.

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Events in Les Arcs