Finland Lake Saimaa Skating Image Credit Mikko Nikkinen

Snow Stoppers - Snow

Plot a course for brilliant-white vistas, fun winter activities and warming local delicacies aplenty along the way. Fleur Rollet-Manus slips on her snow boots and rounds up seven sparkling tours

Wild Skating Finland

From November to March, the huge Finnish Lakeland region freezes over
to create a labyrinth of interconnecting icy pathways perfect for winter skating. For those more Bambi than Bolero, there is an expert tutor on hand to show you the basics, provide the best kit and instruct you on the routes to take. After mastering the technique, glide across the mirrored lakes from Järvisydän to Oravi village on the 30km guided trail, which weaves beautifully through remote pine forests and huge ice fields. Keep eyes peeled for sightings of the rare Saimaa ringed seal native to the region and
the seven national parks that make up Europe’s largest lake district. Set next
to Lake Saimaa, evenings are best spent cosying up by the log fire in luxurious Hotel Järvisydän or resting tired legs in a long hot soak in your private Jacuzzi.

Snow Safari USA

From November to April, follow in the footsteps of famed mountain explorers and witness some of nature’s most dramatic moments in north-west Wyoming, close to the Jackson Hole ski area. Watch as bald eagles swoop, mule deer roam and grey wolves prowl. The morning starts with a fresh brew at one of the town’s coffee houses, before you venture out west to the National Elk Refuge, where you’ll see the ubiquitous elk, herds of big horn sheep and, if you’re lucky, perhaps even bison or a golden eagle. Founded in 2007 by photographer Jason Williams, Jackson Hole Wildlife Safari guides have a wealth of knowledge of the wild terrain. Each tour is focused on the key wildlife migration for the time of year, maximising your chance of spotting moose and bison. High-spec binoculars and photography tech are on hand to help you capture the perfect shot.

The Northern Lights Norway, Finland, Sweden

Combining the dual Scandi loves of creativity and convenience, this hotel on skis allows you to scout for the elusive Aurora Borealis without leaving your bed. Start the day crisscrossing through north Norway and Sweden by snowmobile before you reach your Aurora Cabin at the Wilderness Lodge, hidden deep in Finland’s Arctic Circle. Come evening, hunker down beneath the transparent roof for prime Northern Lights viewing. Kilpisjärvi has extremely clear skies and statistically records the highest level of Northern Lights activity in all of Scandinavia. A guide is on hand to assist you in getting a fire started on which to cook grillimakkara – a big, plump sausage made for grilling eaten with mustard and washed down with a mug of beer. Rise early the next morning for a spot of snowshoeing and a breakfast ofkorvapuusti, a moreish cinnamon bun.

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Travel Details

3-night itinerary including full board and private transfers from £1,399pp.

Husky Sledding Sweden

Slide across frozen lakes, ice fields and glaciers being pulled by huskies as you climb across the Ottsjö mountainside. Experienced mushers Richard and Claire Rees bid goodbye to their fast-paced lifestyles and lived off-grid for several years, battling the Arctic elements alongside their faithful friends, before inviting guests to do the same. Their pack has now grown from eight to 80 and, after learning the commands, you’ll be responsible for leading eight Alaskan and Siberian huskies through the snow. After a day spent out in the elements (temperatures regularly drop to -30C), banish the winter chill with a stint at Copperhill Mountain Lodge’s sumptuous spa. The sleek chalet is a favourite with Swedish royalty and overlooks the red barn roofs and red ski runs of Åre.

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Travel Details

Overnight Husky Experience including lunch, coffee and accommodation from £340pp.

Snowshoe Adventure Austria

Go properly off the beaten track in Salzkammergut, Austria’s picture-postcard mountain region. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and plough through twisting, narrow routes inaccessible to skiers. With no specialist technique or experience required, it’s a good trip for all the family. Hike the peaks of Mount Zwölferhorn before descending through St Giles’s gingerbread chalets. Pick up speed on your descent for an exhilarating return run as the fresh snow enables you to glide freely down the mountain. The next day, navigate the snowy banks of Lake Wolfgang, miles away from ski runs, and framed by twinkling icicles and fir boughs. Long hailed as the best kaffee in town, stop by Kaffeewerkstatt for an afternoon fix and an obligatory plate of apple and cinnamon strudel with whipped cream.

Ice and Sauna Hopping Finland

A bone fide national pastime, throughout the winter months you’ll find Finns jumping into icy black pools to kick-start their day. By encouraging the body’s vascular system to dilate and constrict it improves circulation, giving an almighty rush of adrenaline in the process. One of the country’s most popular is Löyly in the capital Helsinki, which is formed around a stylish striking wooden public sauna straddling a natural sea pool that freezes at its perimeter. Spend a few days in Helsinki before heading north to Tampere, arguably the most picturesque place to take a dip into the cold stuff (the delightful train journey from Helsinki takes two hours). Make a reservation at Ravintola Näsinneula for a modern taste of Finnish cuisine.

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Travel Details

Tampere’s Rauhaniemi Beach saunas are free of charge for public use. Löyly is £17pp for two hours, including towels and lockers.

Snowmobiling Iceland

Lava fields, gushing waterfalls and huge ice boulders are scattered across the sleek black sands of Reynisfjara, one of Iceland’s most bucolically beautiful locales. On this particular tour, you’ll discover Iceland’s natural phenomena from the driver’s seat of a high-powered snowmobile. Channel your inner Bond henchman (helped by the balaclavas and snowsuits) as you race across Iceland’s second-largest glacier Langjökull on an exhilarating four-hour trip. Once you reach the Thingvellir National Park endpoint, stop at the shooting geysers and bubbling hot springs before heading to the Gullfoss waterfall, an iconic Icelandic photo opportunity which stretches to nearly 245m, showcasing huge vertical cascades and dramatic narrow throat canyons.

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Travel Details

4-hour tour including transfers and lunch from £976pp.

Late Season Skiing Take advantage of dynamic lift prices, empty slopes and accommodation steals. Chilly morning temperatures promise great snow, while sunny afternoons were made for leisurely lunches. Pack sunscreen to avoid those dreaded goggle tan lines and, if you can, travel outside of Easter break

With a solid history of high snowfall and some of the most challenging off-piste in the world, Chamonix’s Mont Blanc massif is better suited to advanced skiers. The Vallée Blanche will be on your radar, but be sure to tackle the crevasses with a guide. Suit up early, hit the slopes, then lunch at Plan Joran http://www.planjoran-restauran... before ending the day by Hotel Les Grands Montets’ roaring log fire. http://www.hotel-grands-montet...

This resort is open 365 days a year, with glacier bus lifts on hand to help you access some of the most skiable areas in the Alps. Good snow years can see up to 60km of runs open year-round. It’s also just 25km from Innsbruck, which has direct flights from London starting at £80 return. Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten is set slope-side with mountain views and a restaurant brimming with Tyrolean charm.

One of the highest ski villages in Austria ensures some of the best snow in the country, which helps prolong the season well into May. A scattering of mountainside restaurants open late into the year but Nederhütte tops them all with its apple strudel smothered in vanilla sauce winning multiple accolades. Bed down at Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl, the resort’s original village inn, which dates back to 1889.

Die-hard skiers will want to round out the season at the world’s most northernmost ski resort, 209km above the Swedish Arctic Circle. Lifts are open from 1 March, but due to the latitude, you can ski beneath the Midnight Sun up until June on certain days. Just think of the bragging rights. Refuel with reindeer pasta at Ebbes Kök. Resort accommodation is clean but tends to be basic – the smartest is Meteorologen Lodge.

Known as the ‘cradle of Alpine skiing’, historical St Anton boasts 200km of off-piste terrain and draws a cult following for strong skiers season-round. Perfectly placed on the main drag, Hotel m3 is a design-led four-star with a sleek fourth-floor restaurant boasting outstanding views. Famed for its wine cellar (accessible via a slide), The Hospiz Alm in nearby St Christoph is worth a look.

The north-facing slopes are typically open for seven months, giving you ample time to ski signature run La Face. Dropping from Bellevarde to the town, this black run presents a challenge for advanced skiers. Part sleek Scandi lodge, part chalet, central Le Tsanteleina is a superior 54-room hotel. Dine at Benoit Vidal’s two-Michelin-starred Le Fonet, or at his adjoining bistro, which offers great value.

Go peak-to-peak from Backcomb to Whistler for 360-degree vistas from 436m above the valley floor. The record-breaking gondolas were designed to give skiers stellar views before making their descent. As the Easter crowds die out, you’ll get more bang for your buck. At The Westin you’ll save £97 on a week’s stay in April as opposed to March. Try the GLC Bar’s terrace for hot, rum-laced cider. http://www.whistlerblackcomb.c...

New for this season, the Matterhorn glacier ride shoots skiers up to one of Europe’s highest mountain stations, 3,821m above sea level. Up to 2,000 passengers are carried per hour, so there’ll be no long queues. With 365 days of glacier skiing, Klein Matterhorn offers box-fresh runs even as temperatures rise elsewhere. Le Petit Charme Inn hotel- makes a relatively inexpensive base and offers spectacular views.

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