A Travellerspoint blog

Bars, Boards, Bombers and Jager tea...

Snowbombing 2012, a festival unlike any other!

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Joel: Snowbombing, possibly the most expensive festival in the world!
There are many ways you could blow over $5000 in a week of partying; there’s Vegas, Amsterdam, Ibiza and London just to name a few but I'm guessing one town that would not cross your minds is Mayrhofen. Yes that’s right my·a·hof·fen; a little village town high in the Austrian Alps is home to one of the greatest festivals we have ever been too.


I was first informed of this festival by a mate from work, who upon hearing of our year long holiday was quick to say only one thing "If you go to one festival on your holiday make it Snowbombing". At the time we had no idea why he didn't just recommend something like Glastonbury or Reading, but when I looked at the website I knew exactly why. It was a 5 day music and snowboarding festival, complete with mountain stages and bars inside igloos! The previous year had seen the Prodigy rock out in a forest, Fatboy Slim DJ in an igloo and Mark Ronson perform to a huge crowd at 3000m above sea level. I was sold, (and it didn't take much to convince Renee either :P).

Snowbombing is one of those strange eccentric festivals; popular enough to be successful, but niche enough to still be individual and cool. Tickets go on sale pretty much a week after the festival has finished and close only days before the whole shindig commences. Unfortunately for Renee and myself, we booked in mid-September and could only score prime accommodation at a hefty price of $1900 (Which in hindsight wasn't actually so bad). That exorbitant figure included all accommodation, breakfast and our festival pass to all stages.

The only difficult thing about the festival was getting there. We knew when it was, who was playing and ‘where’ it was, but getting there and how to do it was all a little bit stressful. Originally we had planned on piloting our van from London to Austria, but realised only weeks beforehand that we needed an international driver’s license and a van with snow tyres to be able to legally drive there, and be insured. With too little notice to organise these things that option was firmly ruled out. We looked into all different routes of train travel, buses and flights and ended up deciding that an initial flight into Salzburg, Austria was going to be our easiest option then we would find our own way by train from Salzburg to Mayrhofen. Unfortunately for us, booking flights only a week before the festival meant paying much higher prices; flights were so expensive in fact that we both considered not even attending the festival at all due to just how much the total sum of the festival was panning out to be. We did actually try to call and cancel at one point assuming we’d lose the full deposit but were told that we would lose 100% of what we had already paid (which was the full sum). Guess we were going then!

With flights and airport parking for Jasper sorted our only confusion left was how, where and what train to catch once we landed in Salzburg. Lucky for us we happened to eavesdrop on a group of people on the same flight, who also happened to be going to Snowbombing and were planning to catch the train to Mayrhofen. Awkwardly I approached one of the "crew" and asked how they were getting to Mayrhofen; "Train mate, you wanna come with?" Score! Aussies to travel with. A few from the group had been to Snowbombing multiple times and knew all the whos, whats and where's of the festival. It took over 4hrs to get to Mayrhofen on a bus and two trains. Had we not have met other travelers at the airport it would have been quite difficult to find our own way to the hof'.


All the stress and apprehension of getting to the festival, along with the ridiculous amount of money it had cost us so far was washed away as our first train started so snake towards large snowcapped mountains and a steward served us a handful of cold beers! Our second train was the red Zillertal Bahn taking us right into the heart of Mayrhofen. The closer we got to the hof' the tighter and taller the mountains became, until we finally reached the final stop. Jumping off the train Renee and I looked at each other in amazement with an expression of "can you F***ing believe this place!” Austrian styled hotels and houses lined cobbled streets, backed by impassable cliff faces covered in pine trees that looked as though they would slide off at any moment. Two cable cars took gondolas high into mountains before disappearing into the clouds. It was truly breathtaking.

I'd love at this point to dazzle you with spectacular pics, but truth be told we took nearly no pics of this awesome town or event. Pretty much from the moment we arrived in Mayrhofen it was a non-stop party. If we weren't busy checking out the acts on stage we were boarding down the mountain or drinking beers on the slopes, and last time I checked expensive cameras don't take well to multiple stacks & late night drunken gigs. From day to day it was full on from the minute we woke up to the wee morning hours when we finally went to bed.

Renee: Our days can pretty much be broken down into 4 parts; Breakfast, snowboarding, drinking and watching gigs. Your average day consists of dragging your hungover sorry-looking self to breakfast before donning your snow gear and jumping in a crammed gondola to head up the mountain.


The fresh mountain air works well to remedy the sore heads of last night allowing you to bust out those 1080’s on only a few hours sleep.
By around 3-4pm the hangover becomes too much and it’s time to adopt the ‘hair of the dog’ as you make your last run for the day down a steep Red or lazy Blue run; both slopes leading you directly to the foot of Pilsbar where a few bevvies and maybe even some table-top dancing should kick that hangover problem into tomorrow.


You’ll catch the last cable car down the mountain around 5, make a quick stop at Hans the butchers for a meat sandwich, (literally a slab of meat between to bits of bread), retire to your hotel for a power nap (if there’s time) then meet up at someone’s room for jager shots before you get on a boogie down at one of the many stages around town. Times all that by 6 and you have a pretty good idea of how full on the festival can be.


Between Joel and myself we had about 3hrs total snowboarding experience, all of which was Joel’s experience in Mongolia… so in other words I had none and Joel hardly knew what he was doing. Joel describes his boarding' in Mongolia as "awww sh*t f*ck ow thud" (his words), as he tried desperately not to fall down and be shredded by slopes that resembled more of a cheese grater than actual snow. Gathering by the grazes and bruises he came home with I’m going to assume it wasn’t too successful.
With our newly acquired friends we all met up, piled into a tiny gondola and set off for our first day of "bombing!"


At first I was a little apprehensive about the boarding side of things, unsure whether I’d really enjoy it or just keep falling down all the time. Fortunately a couple of the other girls from the group we'd met we're in the same boat and Lonnie, (the guy Joel had approached at the airport, who’d been 3 years in a row), took on the role of snowboarding instructor and spent the morning teaching us girls the lowdown on heel edge, toe edge, feathering etc.

Joel on the other hand, with his whole 3hrs experience, thought he would be the next Tora Bright (minus the girl bits) forsaking all lessons, proceeding to board down the mountain full speed ahead with no control, style or ability to stop without going arse up, arms and board flailing all over the place. He actually did okay though. By day 2 he was tempting fate on a couple red-runs, mostly on his ass, but nevertheless on the red-runs; and after a couple days on the board he was carving up some of the more frightening runs with the rest of past bombers.

For those as novice to ‘slope talk’ as me I’ll explain the runs. All runs are colour-coded one of three colors depending on their level of difficulty. Blue runs are your beginner slopes, red your intermediate and the blacks are your pro runs.

Joel: On my 2nd day our friendly guide convinced me to attempt a red run which was at the very top of one of the mountains. Felling a little too sure of myself and completely ignoring my irrational fear of heights I agreed to give it a go. As the lift took us higher and higher that gut wrenching tug of Acrophobia started to set it (Phobias 101: ac·ro·pho·bi·a, Noun: Extreme or irrational fear of heights).
Once we had finally reached the peak, I wandered cautiously toward the edge of the steep slope. The view was fantastic, vivid blue skies and air so clear I couldn't see where the horizon finished. All of this was fantastic until I looked towards the bottom of the slopes and realised just how high I was,
I literally felt like I could have fallen every one of those three thousand meters to the bottom of the mountain. My legs shook my palms were sweaty and I had to give myself a "Joel dont be a pussy" pep talk before I could even attempt to slowly make my way down. Once I got some confidence up I managed to enjoy myself a bit more and absorb the spectacular views. By weeks end Red 7 was the best run I had boarded on.


Renee: Though I may not have had the head first attitude of Joel, I did find myself learning the art of boarding fairly quickly. While a few of the girls I’d begun learning with had abandoned the slopes and traded their boards for the less painful option of table-top dancing at Pilsbar, I was determined to be boarding down the same slopes as Joel and the others and continued practicing my turns and cartwheeling down the mountain til I got it right. By day 3, with a few highly entertaining stacks out the way, I was off the blue runs with Lonnie convincing me that I'd definitely be able to conquer a Red 7 run with them. I’m not sure whether that should be one's first red-run but I managed to board down most of it without too much fear or falling. By the end of the week I was loving the slopes, calling myself ‘chalet girl’ (I wish!) as I raced down the slopes with the others. Snowboarding is so much fun!

When your little legs could no longer take the punishment from the mountain and the last lift was closed it was time to party with the usual routine of meeting up at someone’s hotel room for Jager shots! From there we'd continue on to drinks and a feed at Mo’s Bar before heading to the huge tented Racket club which hosted a number of rockin artists each night playing through til dawn. We saw Booka Shade’s live show; a German duo Joel and I have wanted to see play live for years now, yet have managed to miss their set at multiple festivals when they’ve play in Perth… they were just as awesome as we’d hoped! Other nights saw us watching the Audio/Video spectacular of DJ Yoda, jumping around to the Vaccines, getting our dance on to Example and Dubstepping stupidly to Skream and Benga.

Wednesday and Friday were the biggest party nights of the week; Wednesday hosting the Fatboy Slim Street Party (Olympic theme), and Friday staging the Eristoff Forest Party with party-goers dancing amongst the trees in animal dress up.


The street party was a standout favourite for me! Despite the fact Joel and I had been too lazy to organise any fancy dress attire, the rest of the crowd rocked out in a colourful array of Olympic themed get up sporting lycra running pants, leotards, ping pong outfits and Nation flags to name a few.
Despite the heavy downpour soaking us through to the bone we partied on as Krafty Kuts rinsed us with bangin tunes and Fatboy Slim showered us with pumping beats.


The last scheduled music event of the week was the Eristoff Forest Party. Being the last official night of the festival, the forest filled with all remaining bombers, rockers and ravers dressed in animal-theme as everyone got loose on cheap Eristoff vodka ready to leave Snowbombing and this small village town of Mayrhofen in style!
With the Austrian government shunning Snoop Dogg for his stoner repertoire, Dizzie Rascal took to the forest stage as the festivals headline act. Though I wouldn’t call myself much of a Dizzie fan, I found myself busting out right til the climactic end of the show/week with a double serving of Bonkers as fireworks and laser lights lit up the woods.


Joel: In summary Snowbombing was an awesome way to spend a week at a festival, Renee and I enjoyed it so much we have already booked accommodation for next year. BOMB ON!


Posted by Joel-Renee 12:00 Archived in Austria Comments (5)

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