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Now that the world is slowly opening up again I’m sure some of you might be considering an early 2021 ski trip. So, I thought now would be as good a time as any to tell you all about the Ski+Rock festival in Söll, Austria which I was lucky enough to experience at the start of this year.
Before this trip I had only ever been to Austria in summer, so I was very excited to do a ski trip and see Austria in the snow! The lovely people at Wilder Kaiser invited me to Söll for the very first Ski+Rock festival.
There was skiing, witches handing out Jägermeister, hot chocolate with rum and LOTS of incredible music. Here’s what you need to know about Söll’s new music festival, Ski+Rock.
Ski+Rock is a brand new annual ski and music festival taking place in Söll, Austria. The festival is a combination of music and all things ski (especially apres ski). The stage is right in the centre of the picturesque town of Söll and the festival is FREE to attend.
The dates for Ski+Rock 2021 are already set; 9-16th of January 2021. If this year is any indication then it is going to be spectacular. It’s an outdoor festival as well, so it should be easier to keep relatively Covid-proof.
The Music at Ski+Rock
RTE 2Fm’s JJ Hartigan treated us all to a DJ set every night of Ski+Rock and it was glorious. It went down particularly well with the apres-skiers who’d already had quite a few gluhweins and were ready for a dance.
Part of me had some knowledge of this young Irish band before Ski+Rock, but I wouldn’t have been able to name their songs. However, once The Academic got on stage I was bopping along like a mad woman and even knew the words to a few tunes.
The front man, Craig Fitzgerald, is spectacular, his moves are purely a joy to behold. He has a bit of Bono mixed with a pinch of Jagger and I cannot believe that he’s only 26 years old (though he honestly looks even younger).
The Irish band The Blizzards were the headline act for Ski+Rock 2020. Their first album, “A Public Display of Affection”, was the first album I ever received from a crush, so, of course, I was excited to see them play.
They’re such a lovely, talented bunch and they really had the crowd going. It was a great atmosphere which ultimately culminated in a lot of tipsy people dancing maniacally on their friend’s (or a complete stranger’s) shoulders. I always think it’s a proper gig when people start climbing other humans.
Other Events at Ski+Rock
Free Skiing Films
Two afternoons during the festival free ski movies were shown on a projector en plein air in the centre of town. You could get yourself a hot chocolate and rum, pull up a deck chair and watch wildly skilled people do some crazy things on the big screen. It was the perfect lazy activity before things really kicked off in the evenings.
Back to Ski
This was a morning/afternoon to encourage people back to ski school. Whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned skier who wanted to get some more specific tips, ski school has the answers. This was a great chilled morning for someone like me who always gets a bit nervous on the first day of a ski trip. Our instructors from the SkiWelt ski school were fun, talented and full of great tips.
Hexen Challenge and Hexen Show
OK, so this was one of my favourite parts of the festival. The witch (or hexen) is a big symbol of the mountain at Söll, you can see it on the signs and logos of plenty of local businesses. The Hexen Challenge is basically where people ski/snowboard down the mountain with a broomstick between their legs, led by real life witches who have bright green smoke flowing from them. It is a spectacular site!
When the witches make it down to the main gondola area they then put on a magic show complete with bubbling cauldrons and potions. Some children were terrified, but the majority loved it. My favourite part was when the witches came out into the crowd and gifted various adults small bottles of Jägermeister – something for visitors of all ages!
Food and Drink Stalls
As well as all the local bars and restaurants there were a handful of food and drink stalls set up around the centre of town. I had more than my fair share of Radler and Glühwein from the stalls. And because they were so close to the stage I didn’t miss out on any music while making sure I was appropriately hydrated.
Söll is a popular ski resort in the Ski Welt Wilder Kaiser area. It is much loved by tourists from the UK and Ireland, many of whom revisit every year. The town itself is a small, picturesque, traditional Austrian village with everything you could possibly need.
Söll is part of the SkiWelt area (Austria’s second largest fully linked ski area) which has 284km of runs with plenty of variety to suit any level of skier. Söll is the best destination in Austria for night skiing. It has 11km of illuminated night runs which are open Wednesday to Saturday.
For non skiers you can get the gondola the whole way up to the top of the mountain for some stunning views. There are also lots of activities for non-skiers or people who want a little break such as paragliding, tobogganing, snowshoeing and more. I did tandem paragliding with Fly2 Paragliding and it was an unforgettable experience.
The nightlife is particularly good in Söll . I highly recommend a trip to the Jam Jar for some live music or Whiskymühle for a cocktail (and a cheeky shot). Das Vidum serves a lovely rum hot chocolate and has a great view of the Ski+Rock stage.
There’s no shortage of great places to eat in Söll too. I was worried about being a vegetarian but I discovered käsespätzle (cheese noodle casserole) and was set for the trip! Hotel Postwirt serves a particularly good käsespätzle in their restaurant. If you’re going self catering there are two large supermarkets in town so you have plenty of options depending on your budget.
How to get to Söll
One thing that’s great about Söll is the short transfer time. From Dublin you can fly direct to Munich and then there is a 1.5hrs transfer time. From London you can fly direct to Innsbruck (1hr transfer time), Munich or Salzburg (1.5hr transfer).
Personally I flew Dublin to Munich direct with Aer Lingus and used Four Seasons airport transfer service which was pretty handy once I found the transfer desk downstairs (Munich is a huge and confusing airport).
Where to Stay in Söll
During my time in Söll I stayed in Hotel Feichter, a family-run (George, the owner, is also the chef), classically Austrian hotel. All of the staff were polite, welcoming and incredibly accommodating. If I had stayed longer I’d have started to feel like part of the family.
Location-wise it’s great, only a couple of minutes walk from the town and even closer to the bus stops. It’s about a 15 minute walk to the gondola and beginner slopes.
Hotel Feichter does great food. They have a dinner menu of 3/4 courses that changes every night with one meat, fish and veggie option each night. They also have a well stocked bar and offer themed nights such as wine-pairing nights or live music.
There is a breakfast buffet in the morning to give you all the energy you might need before hitting the slopes. There is also a sauna and steam room downstairs to help your aching muscles after a day of skiing.
The rooms are small, basic, cozy rooms with good views. I slept like a log while I was there, never wanted to get out of bed. Very happy to recommend Hotel Feichter.
I loved my time at Ski+Rock. I think the fact that it’s free to attend is incredible and I loved the laid back nature of it. Nothing was obligatory, you could come and go as you liked and the stage was in such a handy location.
I will say, it gets cold at night so make sure to wrap up very warm when you head out for the gigs. Or just keep the Glühwein flowing to warm yourself up!
I can’t think of anything negative to say about it at all really, I loved my experience and I’m even thinking about returning for Ski+Rock 2021.
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