Reviewed: Snowboxx Festival Review
The French resort of Avoriaz saw the seventh edition of the Snowboxx Festival, with a diverse line up of dance music acts. Of course, festival goers normally expect to walk across muddy fields to get to their lodgings but trudging through the snow is something else.
The first thing to tackle on arrival in Avoriaz is that the town is a purpose built ski resort. There’s no road traffic apart from horse and carts and snow vehicles, so watching revellers dragging their suitcases through ankle deep snow is an amusing introduction to the festivities.
Set over seven days, Snowboxx takes place at a selection of different venues across Avoriaz; from the compact main stage area just on the edge of town, to après ski haunt Folie Douce. There are actually events you can attend without the need for a wristband, including the après ski bars which are generally buzzing from around midday. In fact, the wristband for the event gets you into the main stage and a couple of the after hours nightclubs such as XX Club in the middle of town. But there are also a selection of ticketed events that can be bought on the day or in advance..
The ski resort of Avoriaz is part of the larger Portes du Soleil area. Straddling two countries and around 600 kms of pistes, it’s actually the largest ski area in Europe. Around twenty minutes up the mountain from Morzine, Avoriaz is one of the most popular ski areas in the region and is perfect for pretty much every level of skier or boarder. The great choice of easily accessible slopes makes it ideal for those taking their first steps on the snow, or for those hardened piste cruisers who want to munch the miles.
We kick off our Snowboxx with some apres ski at Folie Douce. Blue skies, dancing on tables and singing along to 90s and noughties dance hits is the perfect introduction to the festival, leading us up to the main event for the first day. Over at the main stage Rudimental’s DJ Locksmith lights up the night with an irresistibly catchy mashup of classic dance, banging drum n bass and even some funky bootlegs. It’s proper main stage stuff, with plenty of pyrotechnics and light shows to compliment the big tunes.
After Rudimental it isn’t far to the XX Club. We’re just in time for the seriously bass-heavy sounds of Madam X. I’ll confess I wasn’t up to speed about Madam X before she started playing, but I’ll be seeking her out in future. Her techno sounds seem to confuse some in the venue, with heads alternately bouncing to the bass and then perplexed by the experimental sounds interspersed throughout. But generally, her set can only really be described as an absolute banger and by the
Our second day sees some solid snowboarding and skiing. Although there are things for non snow enthusiasts to do, I’m not sure how the days would be for those who don’t board or ski. One one day we enjoy a guided trip on some eFat Bikes, which are motor assisted mountain bikes, perfect for riding in the snow. It’s actually great fun, but at €35 for an hour or €60 for two hours it’s only really a side event, although it is definitely one worth doing…
Our second night sees us head to an Igloo Party on the side of the mountain. The temperature has dropped by now and the wind is starting to pick up, but stomping drum n bass is the perfect antidote to subzero temperatures. Becky Saif warms up the crowd with her reliably ace selection of bangers before Wilkinson takes to the stage. It’s about now that the snow storm starts to pick up, which kinda adds to the whole atmosphere. As an old skool d’n’b head, the jump up bangers are like a red rag to a bull and soon that snowstorm is an irrelevance. And hey, the festival is called Snowboxx so it all fits.
Becky Saif actually bookends Wilkinson’s set, and all props due, she goes in hard and keeps the crowd jumping til the end. In fact, I’m pretty sure she started some avalanches somewhere down the valley.
The morning after is soothed with a bottomless brunch at Le Grand Cafe. An optional extra (not included with the ticket), diners get to chow down on eggs and pastries and quaff plenty of prosecco to soothe their aching limbs from a couple of hardcore days on the slopes and the dancefloors. All to the sounds of an eclectic DJ playing everything from mellow jazz vibes, through some house to a bit of Queen.
We see out our Snowboxx experience with some power ballads at Folie Douce (yes, really!) before heading to the main stage to catch the last few tunes of Yungen’s set. Hip hop vibes give way to Wilkinson’s second appearance of the fest, with his jump up d’n’b the perfect outro to a stomping sesh in the mountains.
The verdict on Snowboxx? If bass music and snowsports is your thing then it’s a pretty hard combo to resist.