7th July 2023

You’re itching to spend a winter on the slopes, so you sit down to book your trip away. But it’s not long before you’re scratching your head wondering “How long is a ski season?” and “When is the best time to go?”

The answer really depends on your chosen destination, and more importantly, what you’re looking for. A calm winter getaway? Uncrowded practice pistes? Après ski antics? Your choice of location will impact what you can do and when.

Luckily for you, we’re armed to the teeth with insights into which months produce the finest snow, when the best après ski haunts reach their busiest – and much more. We’re ready to depart all that knowledge. Let’s roll on!

Now, when does the ski season start?

Your first takeaway should be that no two ski seasons are the same. It’s a common misconception that all resorts will open between November to April – and this just isn’t true. There’s a lot of variation as we’ll find out…

Northern hemisphere

In the Northern Hemisphere, resorts tend to open from early to late November. But some in North America don’t open their doors until as late as mid-December, so keep that in mind when making your plans.

In Europe, home to the Alps and one-third of the world’s ski resorts, you can expect the ski season to open at the end of November when temperatures drop and we start to see the crystalline snow we all love.

Southern hemisphere

In the Southern Hemisphere, where the Earth’s seasonal tilt towards the sun is reversed, you can expect the exact opposite. In New Zealand, for example, resorts such as Cardrona will open their doors in June.

Now, when does the ski season end?

Northern hemisphere

When it comes to resorts shutting down for the season, those in the Northern Hemisphere tend to close their doors from mid-April, staying open until early May at the latest.

Looking at the Alps specifically, which stretch approximately 750 miles across eight alpine countries, you can see why there might be some variation as the terrain covers vast distances and a range of altitudes.

Southern hemisphere

Once again, you’ll see that resorts in the Southern Hemisphere will do the opposite, closing their doors around mid-October as temperatures rise with the return of springtime, snows melt and trails gradually start to close.

Ski seasons length by country

Here are the approximate lengths of the ski season in popular destinations around the world. The particulars of each ski season will vary by resort and weather, but these are the averages.

  • America – November to mid-April
  • Canada – late-November to late-April
  • France – mid-November to mid-April
  • Japan – December to early-April
  • New Zealand – June to mid-October
  • Australia – June to October

What factors affect ski season length?

Before, we mentioned that the length of a ski season isn’t set in stone… or snow to be more accurate. You might be wondering why this is. Here are a few variables that affect how long a ski season might be.

  • Resort latitude and altitude
  • Local climate
  • Profitability of staying open in Spring and early Summer
  • Placement of slopes – peaks facing towards the sun
  • Resort popularity
  • Climate change

Will ski resorts stay open longer if there’s more snow than expected?

As I just mentioned, some resorts will keep their doors open if they predict they can turn a profit and, of course, if they have enough staff to do so. This can be tricky as many staff working at ski resorts come for the traditional 5-month season.

If there’s an unexpected influx of snow at the halfway point, they can more easily project profits, estimating how much snow they’ll have for the rest of the season and how long it will last. With this information, they can decide whether to extend their opening dates.

When is the best time to go?

If you’re planning to do a ski season, working away behind the bar or even up on the slopes, when is the best time to go? Good question. Here are a few options, all suited to who you’ll meet on the slopes.

The start of the ski season

For those on the ski or snowboard instructor journey, the start of the ski season can work a treat – and especially if your chosen destination is in Europe like the stunning Three Valleys in France. This is when you get the best snow, so it’s well worth it zipping off as soon as you can.

Mid ski season

This is the best time to be working outdoors as a ski or snowboard instructor. And good news social butterflies: this is the busiest time.

In the festive months, European and North American resorts are bustling with energy and good vibes.

If doesn’t sound like your ideal holiday, no worries. If you avoid holidays and stick to mid-week skiing you benefit from the pistes being a lot emptier, ideal if you want to get a healthy amount of uninterrupted training in.

The end of the ski season

If you want to add a little extra onto your ski instructor salary by coaching people later on into the season, staying until early Spring or Summer might work out in your favour. While the conditions aren’t as good as earlier on in the season, the tickets will be cheaper and the pistes much quieter.

Picking your season

Whether you’re a fresh-faced trainee or a seasoned daredevil, it’s important to know what will make the difference between the trip of a lifetime and a washout. So, before you book your trip and head out to those stunning alpine climes, make sure you do your homework. Boring, I know. But we promise it’ll be worth it when you’re coasting down peaks of picture-perfect champagne snow.

TL; DR? Here’s a quick summary

In a nutshell, how long is the ski season? The vast majority of ski seasons last between five and six months, depending on a number of factors from the local climate to the resort’s altitude.

In the Northern Hemisphere, expect the ski season to start in November and finish in April. For resorts in the Southern Hemisphere, it will be more like June to October. Know what that means? You can start your skiing adventure in your summer or winter holidays – the choice is yours!

Get your mitts on a hair-raising experience

If you’re as psyched up as we are at the prospect of escaping into the snowy wilderness, then you’ll want to see what SnowSkool has to offer. With ski instructor courses in France, Canada and New Zealand, there’s something for dutiful future instructors and thrill-seekers alike.

Come and have a chat with us, we’re only a message away.

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