An independent guide to Val Thorens
Find out about Val Thorens events here. There's la Grande Première at the start of the season in November, the Trophée Andros and the World Cup Skicross in early December, then torchlit descents and fireworks at Christmas and New Year. In February, the Tournoi des 6 Stations rugby tournament is held. Festi Valtho is in March, and in April, there's the 3 Valleys Enduro Rally. The season comes to a close with Dutch Week and Apotheose Days. Read about events in Val Thorens here.
For event listings with dates, see events on ValThorensGuide.co.uk.
Val Thorens usually opens between 15th and 20th November, depending on when the weekend falls. Often, only a percentage of the lifts and pistes are open.
La Grande Première, Val Thorens, by T Loubère
La Grande Première is a special weekend near the start of the season. It's a chance to test the new models of skis from many brands, including Atomic, Black Crows, Blizzard, Dynastar, Head, K2, Nordica, Rossignol, Salomon, Scott, and Volkl; and new snowboards from brands including Burton, K2, Nidecker, Oakley, Drake, and Roxy. There'll also be touring skis and snowbikes to try out.
The tent village/test centre is at Rond Point des Pistes, but usually you register on the terrace of the restaurant le Rendez-Vous.
A mini snowpark, a big air bag, and a trampoline for snowbike riders are amongst the on-piste attractions. There'll be events in the early evening too, like Happy Hour, games with prizes to be won, and a big DJ show in the early evening on Saturday.
The first stage of the car and motocross ice circuit competition is in Val Thorens, usually on the first or second weekend in December. There are races with petrol cars, electric cars, and motocross bikes. Pay per day for entry to the middle of the circuit, or for the weekend; free viewing from outside the circuit. The Trophée Andros continues in other French ski resorts, including Alpe d'Huez. This video shows the action at the Trophée Andros 2014 in Val Thorens (including Sébastien Loeb's appearance in one of the races):
The opening event of the Skicross World Cup is now a fixture in Val Thorens. Val Thorens's own Olympic champion (2014) Jean-Fred Chapuis is normally a strong contender, as he knows the course inside out. Qualifications on Thursday, semi-finals and finals of the first World Cup on Friday, and semi-finals and finals of the second World Cup on Saturday. Free for spectators. This video shows the 2015 Skicross World Cup in Val Thorens:
Ski and Boarderweek week brings mainly German snowboarders and skiers to Val Thorens in the third week in December. There are ski and snowboard contests, including jumps on a big airbag, and free tests of equipment. They set up an Easy Fun Park on the Voie Lactée, with coaching by experts. There's also entertainment, including a Trampo Board and an Air Jump; live concerts; and a Big Air Battle Show.
Magical Christmas week in Val Thorens.
Father Christmas stays in a cabin in Val Thorens at this time of year, so there's an opportunity to meet him at the Lapland-themed village on place Caron. The Christmas Eve show involves a torchlit descent by the ESF at 6pm, a big firework display, and the arrival of Father Christmas at 7pm. Free mulled wine and hot chocolate at place Caron.
There's a torchlit descent by the instructors of the ESF at 6pm, entertainment for children, free hot chocolate and mulled wine on place Caron, and fireworks at ten to midnight. This is what it's like:
An introduction to touring skiing, with an early evening walk up to the Chalet de la Marine using touring skis and skins, for mulled wine and onion soup. Dates in January, usually once a week.
Six teams, representing six different ski resorts (Val Thorens, Les Menuires, Valmorel, Morillon, Saint-Gervais, and La Clusaz), play short games of Sevens Rugby on snow. There are usually some ex-internationals taking part, including in previous editions Marc Lievremont, Serge Betsen, Christophe Dominici, Dmitri Yachvili, Mike Tindall (pictured above), and Shane Williams. See the video from 2015 (when it was properly cold):
On Valentine's Day in Val Thorens there are roses for the ladies (at the tourist office, from 9am to 7pm - while stocks last!). Free mulled wine (with ginger) on place Caron.
Events during Carnival week, when there's music in the streets of the resort, and a concert at the church.
Dance music at the Chalets du Thorens (international electro music). Fireworks on the last day.
A series of 'specials' set up around the Three Valleys under the name 3 Vallées Enduro. Enter as a team of three, and go and try the Big Air Bag, giant slalom, freeride course, kilometre speed skiing, ski cross, and more. About 1,500 people take part. Prizes for everyone.
The traditional Dutch week in the spring in Val Thorens, to celebrate Koningsdag (the King's birthday - actually the 27th April).
A series of events and entertainment, to celebrate the closing days of the season. Activities free for children up to 8 years old, otherwise there's a small fee for a pass. Evening concerts.
Squeeze the last drops out of the ski season. The lifts usually close around 8th May - give or take a few days.
Make the most of all the Val Thorens events!
While Val Thorens hasn't hosted any World Cup slalom or giant slalom races on its stadium for a number of years, it has instead invested in a world-class Skicross course.
That decision has paid dividends, with a World Cup Skicross event now a fixture every December. It helps that current Olympic champion Jean-Frédéric Chapuis is a native of Val Thorens. The Skicross course is now named after him - it's the Stade de Skicross Jean-Frédéric Chapuis.
There's a market in Grand Rue, every Tuesday and Thursday of the winter season (and in the summer season), where you can buy honey, cheese, craft items, clothes, and more.
The stall-holders are there all day, but the market has the most life in the early evening, when everyone has come off the slopes.
Read more about Val Thorens market.
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