Our guide to the best time for the family skiing
Many tour operators have fantastic early bird deals to take advantage of, so if you're travelling in a group you can save money if you start the booking process several months in advance. If your children are learning, it is always best to book professional instruction with ski schools, so make sure you secure lessons at the booking stage.
If you have children who are at school, chances are you will be holidaying in the mountains during what are traditionally known as the 'peak ski weeks' - Christmas, New Year, half-term and Easter. If your children are younger than this, then you are free to holiday whenever you like to during the season and you may get the best conditions, lovely quiet pistes and the best prices by avoiding these key weeks.
Below is an indication of when schools break up but there is a lot of variation and it's best to check directly with the school itself. Independent schools can break up one, if not two weeks earlier than state schools and sometimes have completely different half terms.
Exact dates vary in the UK but it generally falls mid-February. The Independent sector sometimes take two weeks instead of one. In France, half term can span the whole month of February, but the middle two weeks still tend to be the busiest. Italians do not take a half term break so Italian resorts can be a good option at this time. It’s important to remember that holidays vary between different regions in the UK. A useful resource for finding dates for different European countries is www.schoolholidayseurope.eu
Easter is often overlooked for ski holidays, but even when Easter falls later in April, it can be an excellent time for family skiing. Aim high, so that you can be sure of decent snow cover, or even head to a resort with a glacier. Milder temperatures and longer daylight hours can make for a comfortable family ski experience, and the quieter slopes make it a good time to learn too. Here are a few suggestions of high resorts in the Alps:
Kids Ski Free
Many resorts offer discounted or free ski passes for children. For example, kids under 10 ski for free at the Stubai and Pitztal glaciers whereas Zermatt offers free skiing to children under 9. Over in Italy's Dolomiti Superski area children ski for free under age 8 and in the Jungfrau region up to 3 kids per adult can ski for free on Saturdays. It's important to bear in mind that these passes are generally available alongside the purchase of a full price adult pass and on the condition that the children are accompanied by a responsible guardian. The offers are also sometimes unavailable on multi-day and seasonal passes so it's best to check with the resort before you book.