Snowboarding has a weird relationship with kids – everyone will watch the latest under-ten prodigy hucking double backies or a toddler standing on a sliding plank online, though in real life (irl?) most of us would rather be as far away as possible from February half term ski madness in the Alps.
But ‘half term’ is such a broad misnomer given that here in Europe different countries have differently timed school holidays, and if that wasn’t difficult enough a lot of countries have staggered holidays throughout different regions. That means that you can set off abroad as the local kids go back to school, only to be greeted by baying hoards of hungry infants and stressed out parents as you arrive in the winter airport of your choice.
“You can set off abroad as the local kids go back to school, only to be greeted by baying hoards of hungry infants and stressed out parents as you arrive”
For example, France splits itself into three ‘zones’ with zone ‘A’ being most of the northern part plus the south east, ‘B’ encompassing everything from the western border to the Alps and everything in between and zone ‘C’ lumping the south coast and Paris together. If that made no sense, you can see a map of it here. Each of these areas gets two weeks off for their winter break in February/March, with the first overlapping both the UK’s Feb half term weeks, as they’re also split geographically.
Austria has a similar three zone policy, but they only get one week apiece, whereas Germany divides itself into about four hundred regions, each with different holiday dates. Belgium, on the other hand, keeps things fairly simple, or pretty much just keeps their population chained to school desks for as long as possible.
These five countries are the ones that, in our experiences, have the biggest presence on French and Austrian slopes, by far the two most popular ski holiday destinations in Europe. We came up with the graphic below to show exactly when each country’s school populations are let loose on the world, though to keep things simple we haven’t differentiated by region, i.e. we’ve just marked when school is out in France as a whole for half term, not by zone.