The resort of Mayrhofen is famed for having the steepest piste in Austria - standing at a cool 78 degrees, the run (known as "Harakiri" - or "suicide") is a sharp way down. But for one week in April it’s not all about skiing drops. The sleepy, fairytale village is transformed into a hell-bent mash of noisy music and snowsport lovers. While you won’t find anyone that says things like “the après is to die for,” neither is it a case of Brits abroad. Here gather people from all over the world who have come to define themselves as “Snowbombers”.
Tenuous fancy dress themes abound. So don’t be surprised when you go into a restaurant and see three fishnet-clad nuns sipping mini bottles of Jäger. Or tuxedoed men shooting down a slope, tails flapping in the breeze. Or a shark wildly flapping its fins to clamber onto a ski lift. As you soon discover, the festival holds a multitude of Tyrolean surprises. This year, cheeky producers Artwork and Breach donned lederhosen to star as Austrian Filter House, whose jaunty accordion rework of ‘Au Seve’ drifted all over the village.
In the daytime, the Vans board park is the hub of the action – artists like Mistajam and Skream spin tunes to a neon crowd that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the '80s. Rompa’s Reggae Shack is another mountain-based venue, where bass notes from dubwise selectors like Dub Pistols and Daddy Nature cause tremors to make you thankful for those wooden avalanche barriers.
While there’s fun to be had in the day, when night settles in the village comes alive. A highlight was the Mardi Gras-themed street party which hosts David Rodigan. Bouncing up and down in a blue puffa jacket, he switches off the decks to growl "après skiiiiii" to a raging crowd, tipping his hat to the sounds of Jamaica, old and new. Parties are also thrown in the Arctic Disco – an igloo perched precariously on top of a mountain, lending for breathtaking views. Crawl in and sit at tables and fur-lined chairs made of ice, then go to the ice bar and order mulled wine with lashings of brandy (but not too many as the altitude makes any sauce you imbibe that much more dizzying).
For another equally picturesque venue you head into the heart of the forest to find a wooden stage with fairy lights hanging between the pine trees, where live acts like Rudimental, a drumstick-wielding Disclosure and Kasabian really shine. And if you’ve felt the urge to party in a sauna, the Schlussel - or as it’s affectionately known, ‘the sweat-box’ - is a crowded wooden hut where Swamp81 take over on Friday night, with Boddika, Loefah and Mickey Pearce laying down window-rattling rhythmic beats.
Warning: in order to cram in all the music and skiing made available, you can forget about a relaxing week away. In fact, "you can sleep when you’re dead" should probably be Snowbombing’s official motto.
We've been sent this highlight video from Snowbombing brand partners Rekorderlig - give it a watch here.
Words by Felicity Martin
Photos by Danny North