What is Après-Ski? The Mountain Tradition Explained

The altitude might not be the only thing giving you a sore head.

What is Après-Ski? The Mountain Tradition Explained

Image: @foliedoucelesarcs

Have you heard of après ski but also have no idea what it is? You’ve come to the right place.

On a winter skiing holiday, the fun doesn’t stop once the ski or snowboard boots have come off and the last chairlift stops running. After a long day of shredding powder on the slopes, there’s nothing better than a few beers on the mountainside with your mates.

This tradition, known as ‘après-ski’ is popular across ski resorts worldwide.

Whether it’s dancing on the table with a vin chaud in the French alps or drinking a craft beer in a saloon when skiing stateside, there is no one way to do après. 

As many Europe and North American ski resorts start to open up, here is everything you need to know about après-ski.

What is Après-ski?  

The term ‘après-ski’ comes from French, translating quite literally to ‘after ski’. 

But despite its French name, the tradition actually originated in Norway in the 1950’s, with the growth of recreational skiing.

Après is the general phrase for any post-skiing social activity. For most ski goers, this means relaxing with a few drinks at a slope side bar before a tipsy ski back down to the bottom.

Most people go straight to après from the ski slope. Image: iStock

If you’re a beginner or a non-skier, do not worry – many of the best après ski bars are at the end of the runs, which saves you the (potentially) tricky ski down. Cable cars and chairlifts can also help you reach fun après bars without needing to put the skis back on.

But if you do decide to brave the drunken ski back, just remember to invest in a good helmet!

Not all après activities involve drinking either – you could try sledging down one of the resorts toboggan runs or enjoy a post-ski pampering in a hillside spa.

When does Après-ski start? 

For most skiers, Après-Ski begins in the late-afternoon and goes until it starts to get dark around 7pm.

However, there is no official start or end time. Some of the rowdier mountain lovers ditch the skis altogether and ‘après all day’.

In some resorts, après continues well into the night as the alpine night clubs open up down in the villages.

What do I wear for Après-ski?

Much like when après-ski starts, there’s no set attire. Most skiers simply ski to the bar, loosen off their boots and grab a cold one.

The majority of skiers at après-ski wear their regular ski clothing. Image: @foliedouceavoriaz

As a lot of the après-ski bars are outdoors, it’s also a good idea to bring sunglasses and a hat – not only does it keep you warm but also covers up your helmet hair!

If you are not skiing but still keen for après, keep it comfy and casual – jeans, a warm jumper, snow boots and a hat will mean you fit right in.

But, for the more fashionable skiers and snowboarders, après is also the perfect place to off a ‘steezy’ new jacket, a retro one-piece ski suit or a colourful pair of ski pants.

Helpful DMARGE guides to snowsports clothing:

Après-ski by country

Après-ski has been popular in Europe since the 1950’s. Image: @mooserwirt_official

The après-ski scene is not identical worldwide; where and what you do changes depending on which country and resort you are in.

European Alps

The Alps has a seasoned track record for après; after all, this is where the concept thrived when it was first made popular.

Many resorts in France and Austria are geared up for piste parties, where its not uncommon to see mountain goers dancing on the tables after a long day on the slopes, followed by late night in a club – and a sore head the next day!

The La Folie Douce aprés ski venues can be found across Europe. Image: @foliedoucevaldisere

But Europe has a wide range of other options too if that isn’t for you. 

Enjoy a chilled Aperol Spritz in the Italian hills; try some fondue in a French village; or take part in a night sledge in Switzerland.

Best Resorts:

  • St Anton (Austria) – The resort to popularise table dancing; famous for steins of beer, Jägermeister and oompah parties till the early morning.
  • Val D’Isère (France) – Grab a mulled wine and listen to a live DJ at the famous ‘La Folie Douce’ to see what après is all about.

North America

Much like its landscape, North America has a very varied après scene – from cocktail bars and restaurants to mountainside bar and grills.

Skiers often enjoy cheap American craft beer and signature Bloody Marys.

Longhorn Saloon in Whistler is one of the town’s most popular après ski spots. Image: @longhornsaloon

For the most part, American and Canadian resorts are more laid-back, but there are some resorts which compete with their European counterparts for après madness.

Best Resorts:

  • Whistler Blackcomb (Canada) – Legendary après-ski scene and nightlife filled with champagne showers, ice bars and alpine parties.
  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming (America) – In the heart of cowboy country, the resort is known for its cheap shots and live music in ‘Mangy Moose’ saloon.


According to Snow Japan, prior to Covid-19, Japan was becoming a more frequent destination for Western snow lovers looking for a good après.

Many resorts offer up onsens (hot springs) to have a relaxing drink of Japanese whiskey after a long day skiing.

American- and European-style bars also feature in the more popular ski areas.

Best Resorts:

  • Niseko (Japan) – Many young Australians come here for cheap sake, traditional Japanese onsen and quirky bars.

Après-ski in Australia

Although Australia might not have same vast ski resorts that Europe or America has, it certainly has the drinking culture to keep up at après.

Resorts such as Thredbo, Mount Buller, and Falls Creek are popular destinations for Aussies who are keen to party over the winter months.

Only three hundred people live in Thredbo year-round, but that jumps to four thousand in winter, many guests visiting the range of après-ski bars and clubs the resort has to offer. 

So, if you’ve yet to venture to the snow for some winter thrills and have no idea how to go about doing après the right way, with the information in this guide, you’ll be a seasoned pro in no time at all.

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