Volvo Snowbombing 2011

Europe's biggest snow and music festival
110410 Snowbombing 2011_(c) Marc Sethi 2011 29.jpg
At the grand old age of 12, Snowbombing has travelled far and wide from its humble beginnings. What started as an apres ski party in the French resort of Risoul back in the year 2000 has now morphed into what is undoubtedly Europe's biggest combined snow and music festival. After a restless jaunt around various mountain resorts, it has for the past seven years found permanent residency in the idyllic Austrian haven of Mayrhofen - a small, perfectly formed and friendly alpine retreat that lovingly caters for the 5,000 or so revellers that descend annually for its week long hedonistic escape. 

With the festival's gradual rise in exposure, evermore impressive line ups and generous cash injection from its sponsors, Snowbombing now benefits from a wider audience appeal than ever before. As well as your obsessive die hard snow junkies desperate to get one more hit of the white stuff before the season is well and truly over, there's now an abundance of those dabbling for the first time, curious to see what all the fuss is about. Safe in the knowledge that if they find that the powder isn't their thing, there's solace in the form of the festivals week long non-stop party atmosphere. 

Due to this, it's a difficult task describing your typical Snowbomber. The closest I can get is to take a sprinkling of the beautiful Ibizan jet set, throw in the fancy dress devotees you'd find at Bestival, cross that with the tits out abandonment of a Magaluf hen party then douse the whole shebang in a boiling vat of northernness. Messy, very good natured and a whole heap of twisted snowy fun.  

Location wise, you couldn't ask for more. Parties are hosted in venues as diverse as the 'Arctic Disco' (a hand carved igloo situated at the top of a mountain), to 'The Racket Club', an indoor tennis facility which is transformed nightly into a vast warehouse space reminiscent of the raves of yesteryear. Standing alongside these are a smattering of smaller venues of equal quality, most of which seem to be named after varying types of German sausage (in a 'Function One' bun). As for the icing on the cake, the week culminates in a full-on forest blowout, this year headlined by the Prodigy, who sent the crowd ape-shit in surroundings nothing short of spectacular. 

More-so sonically, the festival itself boasts one of the most comprehensive electronic-based line ups this side of Glastonbury. The only downside of this is that there was too much of note on at the same time. Cramming as much in as I possibly could, highlights included The 'Urban Nerds' gig with David Rodigan bringing a taste of Jamaica to the mountainside. He ended his skanky, rewind laden set calling for signal, some wise words and then dropped the Bob Marley classic 'Is this Love' to a rapturous hands in the air melee on the dancefloor. 

The next morning we were whisked bleary eyed on a two hour excursion up a glacier where Mark Ronson flew in by helicopter to bang out a no-holds-barred (and pleasantly surprising) 'Popstep' set on the mountainside. After a few beers to straighten things out, the crowd which mainly consisted of competition winners and VIP's lapped it up under clear blue skies and 25 degree heat. All this with perfect spring snow conditions underfoot, so those still in charge of their senses could sneak in cheeky runs down the mountainside as and when they pleased. As well as the aforementioned stand outs: Jackmaster housed it, Sophie Lloyd grooved it, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs smashed it, Miss Dynamite(tee-hee) kicked it, whilst Hans the Butcher cooked it - satisfying everyone's culinary desires after a hard day spent on the mountain. 

All in all I couldn't hold this festival in any higher esteem. Not since the heady days of last summer have I danced more, laughed louder, stayed awake longer, bombed more Jager and hurled myself downhill faster. Epic. 

Words by Paul Sethi
Photo by Marc Sethi


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