Snowbombing 2012 review

'The spice of life is here in these Austrian hills'

Anna Hyams, Chris Swindells - 19 April 2012

No one does quaint quite like the Austrians. You’ve not seen true alpine beauty until you’ve visited their remote, snow-capped towns. No one does partying quite like Snowbombing. Lest never the twain shall meet, until Mayrhofen that is...

After a season of good snow the valley town, just over two hours from Munich, welcomes more than 5,000 revellers from every corner of the globe, for the close of the winter season and five nights of the highest order of partying.

The 24 hours in the day are tightly packed. Music begins up the hill from midday, often accompanying aerobics lessons from the lycra-clad, two-stepping master, Mr Motivator. If that has warmed your cheeks the mountain bars are open for a Tirol beer so you too can face the day with a little ‘haar des hundes’.

Dragging your hungover sorry-looking-self up the slopes each morning might not seem like dreamiest of ideas, but the mountain air’s the best tonic and there are people everywhere ripping up the spray with boards and skis after only a couple of hours sleep. With 157km of slopes and 48 lifts, the two opposing mountain sides, Penken and Ahorn, both offer a unique riding experience of varying difficulties.

If you fancy a midday boogie, the Arctic Disco is the place to be, an intimate little club set inside Santa’s ice grotto, reachable on the 160 capacity mega gondola up the sheer cliffside of the Ahorn. The igloo boasts a full bar selling multi-coloured shots to be drunk around ice-tables in fur-lined cubbyholes, and DJ’s busting beats from inside a booth carved into the wall.

For après ski taste sensations, Hans The Butcher is on Hans (Ed: hand) with warm treats such as Schnitzel and Currywurst, priced by the pound. Beyond this a series of bars and restaurants sell all the usual suspects, from cheese fondue to pizzas wider than your torso.

Fatboy Slim’s (8/10) street party is the ultimate rave despite the characteristically British downpour for the ‘Olympics’ themed night. Oh the irony. In karate gear, ping-pong wear and Boris masks the gathered good keep huddled for warmth and display true underdog spirit, soaking up the glory of warm house and big beat grooves.

At the right time of year you can see marmots upon the Austrians hills, but for the final evening the only wild animals you can glimpse are two streakers traversing the hillside. Labrinth (7/10) is shocked to see his act overshadowed, and he’s certainly bringing no earthquakes. The ground does move for Dizzee Rascal (9/10) though. The Eristoff Forest venue comes alive with the throng of those loose and lubricated on vodka, ready to leave this town in style.

The grime festival favourite and returning feature for 2012 has polished off his stage show with acute precision, featuring an arsenal of hits you’ve forgotten the man had. His reworking of Florence’s ‘You’ve Got The Love’ and chart-topping duet with Calvin Harris, ‘Dance Wiv You’, get big responses, but finishing with fireworks and ‘Bonkers’ (twice) it’s a climactic end to the show and the week.

The huge tented Racket club is open from around 8pm each night until 3am, featuring the likes of The Vaccines (7/10), Wretch 32 (6/10) and Example (5/10). The chart crossovers suffer where DJ Shadow (9/10) and more reputed DJ acts triumph. Shadow spins records in his sphere of AV wonders, taking a journey down memory lane back to his game-changing 1996 classic, ‘Endtroducing…’.

If you’re up for something a little more out of the ordinary, take the thrills and spills bus trip through the winding mountain trails to ‘The Back Country Party’ – a rave in a wooden hut, fuelled by hot wine and Jaegertea and open to only 200 lucky ticket holders each night. A wide-variety of DJ’s playing from a tiny gingham-curtained booth inside, Artwork (8/10) making a fine window dressing.

The afterhours highlights are always something to find pleasure in. From basement ‘Arenas’ to the Schlüssel, a club and kebab shop, it’s big names like Sub Focus (7/10) up against the hottest scene acts, Julio Bashmore (9/10) and Boddika (10/10). The latter comes up trumps, even if there’s no sight of competition, while Benga and Skream (8/10) are happy to prowl the club floors with the rest of them.

There’s nothing like the hedonistic escapism of Snowbombing. Vast white slopes of fun and mild-bone-breaking-danger, a town of noise and vibes you’ll carry through the year. It’s missing some small elements: a few guitar bands for variety wouldn’t go missing, but if it’s music, party and vitality you want, the spice of life is here in these Austrian hills.

Click here for our full Snowbombing 2012 coverage.


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