Snowbombing celebrated its 20th edition this year, an impressive achievement for any festival, particularly one held deep in the Austrian alps during ski season.
Across a full week, 6,000 visitors descend on Mayrhofen and attempt to fuse skiing, snowboarding and other wholesome alpine activities with live music, frivolous group activities and late night dancefloor antics. It’s an ambitious undertaking for the clientele and the organisers but each year Snowbombing delivers a ski festival unrivalled in scale and scope.
With parties taking place in the streets, up on the mountains and even inside local establishments (Skream returned for another meat counter session at the iconic butcher shop, ‘Hans’), Mayrhofen and the surrounding area is bubbling with activity as the season draws to a close. Snowbombing has become a significant date on the local calendar, too, with the festival utilising not only bars and venues but spas, saunas, ski lifts and gondolas where events pop up throughout the week.
This edition was not without its setbacks. First the tragic loss of Keith Flint a few weeks prior meant The Prodigy, who performed previously in 2011 and 2016, would not return. Secondly an altercation with security led to Stormzy pulling out of his Thursday night headline slot on the Forest Stage. While the disappointment was tangible on the night, thankfully Snowbombing has never hinged on the headline acts.
The Bruck’n Stadl offered a slew of invigorating DJs on the same night with a Snowbombing debut from Saoirse who dropped Depeche Mode’s Behind the Wheel, followed by Palms Trax and Hunee, with both DJs delivering high energy sets that interlaced rolling house and jubilant disco moments. Jungle and drum’n’bass heads were particularly well served this year with acts like High Contrast, Brockie and MC Det and Chase & Status. The latter replaced – and paid tribute to – The Prodigy on the Forest Stage. At the Racket Club on the Friday, Denis Sulta and Bicep delivered blistering sets full of crowd pleasers, including their classic Glue and Sulta’s surprising drop of Oni Ayhun’s OAR003-B, fittingly accompanied by lasers and smoke canons.
It’s precisely this dedication to unbridled fun that Snowbombing has built its reputation on. This 20th anniversary year may have seen the festival face some considerable challenges, but you sense the festival’s foundations are strong enough to power onwards.