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Taking music to the mountain

Five years ago, a group of Mancs got fed up with having no decent tunes when they went skiing and created Snowbombing. As planning for the sixth event starts, director Gareth Cooper tells us how they turned an idea into Europe's biggest snow event!

Snowbombing 2006

  • Snowbombing takes place in Mayrhofen from 2 to 8 April 2006
  • Already confirmed to play are Dave Clarke, Norman Jay, Roni Size, Meat Katie, Pendulum, Justin Robertson, Kid Carpet, The Cuban Brothers and more

Snowbombing started here in Manchester. How did it come about?

We were fed up of all the music events happening in summer. Loads of us boarded and skied but were used to ski holidays with a rubbish soundtrack – bars and clubs controlled by local DJs playing awful euro-pop. It got to the point where the holidays were becoming boring because there was so little to do in the evenings.

Snowbombing's Gareth Cooper
Snowbombing's Gareth Cooper

Thus we thought, well, if the mountain won’t come to the music, the music will come to the mountains. We would do a holiday with decent music that people were into. That’s the basic idea of Snowbombing – we thought that loads of people would be into that and so they were.

The year 2000 was the first Snowbombing event. Our friends in Manchester ran club nights that were doing very well at the time – Bugged Out!, Sub Tub, Friends and Family – so we asked them if they would like to do a night in a ski resort for a free holiday. Not the hardest question they’ve been asked. We then set about flyering and getting some press. This was quite a novelty at the time – someone promoting music for UK people in Manchester in the slopes of France. It got a lot of press and the first year 300 people came.

Justin Robertson at Snowbombing
Justin Robertson

Our main acts were Justin Robertson, Aim and Deadly Avenger. Altogether we had about 30 artists play the event, parties only happened for three nights of the seven nights there. It was a messy affair and we realised the work in managing the music at the same time as managing all the holidays – a lot was learnt!

Who's played there?

So far mostly DJ’s, but we are moving more into live acts from this year onwards. The artists that have played at Snowbombing are now in the hundreds. It’s great because the event is so different; nearly everyone wants to play so we can be choosy who we book to play now. The DJs are too many too mention. We’ve moved from hip hop towards dance in the last year or two. We’ve found this worked well.

The apres-ski madness
What happens in apres-ski stays in apres-ski!

Acts including Aphrodite, Bez, Boutique, Cuban Brothers, Dave Clarke, Aphex Twin, Fabio and Grooverider, Fingathing, Gilles Peterson, Justin Robertson, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Mark Rae, Misteeq, Mr Scruff, Mylo, Norman Jay, Stanton Warriors, Tim Westwood, James Lavelle, X-Press 2 and Yousef are just a very small example who’s played Snowbombing

We’ve been Radio 1’s biggest outside broadcast of the year, we have had a full day on T4, and been covered by every major UK TV station and over 92 countries worldwide since the start.

And who will be the highlights in 2006?

Snowbombing by day!
Snowbombing by day!

Not sure yet – we are still booking the artists and if some of the ones that we want come off, then it will be the biggest year to date. We’re going into the mainstream a little more, booking some acts that are known all over the world so we are excited about the development.

How did you pick the location?

They came to us and showed us the resort. It’s amazing and a great mix of nice hotels with cheaper apartments. Fantastic bars and clubs, great ski area and all very close together so the atmosphere in the resort for the week is probably the best atmosphere that I have encountered at any festival. This is because it lasts for one week.

"...we thought, well, if the mountain won’t come to the music, the music will come to the mountains..."
Gareth Cooper explains how Snowbombing came into being

We take over the entire resort now, every hotel has a party going off in it and unlike other festivals which are about camping mainly, we are about more luxury, four star hotels with en-suite bedrooms, hotels with swimming pools and proper toilets – it’s a different class as a venue. Once we saw Mayrhofen, we knew it was the place to stay.

Is there a flavour of Manchester to the festival?

Snowbombing stage at the top of the mountain
The stage at the top of the mountain

Definitely, as it started in Manchester. It still has the people that have been going since year one and now they take their friends too – Manchester has a big contingent but people now go to Snowbombing from all over Europe. It’s great that what started in Manchester has grown to be the most recognised event on snow in Europe.

Any 'stars injured on the slopes' stories?

More injuries in the clubs really – Bez is a regular, so you can imagine what happens there. No major injuries on the slopes fortunately but there are quite a few stories during après-ski sessions. That said, what happens in the après-ski stays in the après-ski!

last updated: 28/11/05
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