What to expect from an indoor ski centre


Recently, we were invited to spend the day at a UK indoor ski centre. The centre had real snow, so this post applies just to ski centres with real snow, rather than dry ski slopes.

It feels like the real thing

It’s snow! Real, live snow that you can make into snowballs and throw at your siblings! (except, you’re not allowed to). It does look a slightly different colour to the white snow you see outdoors – or maybe it’s just the indoor lighting that makes it look white-white, rather than blue-white. And ski afficionado D told me the snow on the main slope was similar to the more slushy snow you get on the slopes, rather than the icy, hard-packed variety. But yes, it’s just the same as a regular mountain of snow.


Your experience at the indoor ski centre will vary, depending on your skill level

Doh. Kind of obvious, this one. But regular skiiers well want very different things to those who’ve never strapped on a ski boot in their lives. An indoor ski centre can offer something to all sorts of people:

  • children who’ve never skiied or snowboarded before, and whose parents want to find out if they enjoy it
  • families wanting to get some practice in, either before a ski holiday or just for fun
  • seasoned skiiers and snowboarders who want to brush up on their technique
  • novices (like me), who might have been on a couple of ski holidays in the past, but are out of practice and want to get up to speed again
  • adult beginners, who want to learn in a relaxed, fun environment

At our indoor ski centre, the beginner instructors were friendly, patient and made the time on the snow enjoyable rather than stressful. The instructors at snow indoor centres can range up to Olympic-athlete-training level, so skiiers and snowboarders of all levels should be able to find a person who could teach them something.

You can hire your kit

There’s no need to fork out on a ski jacket and salopettes, as you should be able to hire those from the centre. Ditto with ski poles, and helmets, which our centre loaned out with no charge. The helmets were compulsory for children. We had to bring gloves along ourselves, but I managed to pick up pairs for the kids from Aldi – you can usually find cheap versions, if you look around. Gloves were available to buy, but they were of the high-quality, up-to-minus-15-degrees variety (and hence more expensive than Aldi’s, unsurprisingly).

indoor ski centre

It’s PROPERLY cold

Make sure you wrap up warm. A vest and tights, fleece jumpers and proper ski gloves are a must. It’s minus five out there!

You’ll need to tell them your weight

Don’t lie about it, or you may end up with the wrong kind of skis. The people giving out your ski equipment need to know how heavy you are, so that your skis can do their job properly. They don’t care a jot if you’ve over-indulged on mince pies, so be honest!


Your children may surprise you

I’ve spoken with a few people considering ski holidays, who were wondering whether their kids might be too young/fearful to enjoy skiing. After our day at the centre, I’d say the younger they start, the better. Our six-year-old son has always been the more physical of our two children, but it was our three-year-old daughter who took to the slopes most readily. She’s lower to the ground than any of us, and regular tumbles are still a part of life for her. So losing control on the snow wasn’t a problem. Big smiles all day!

indoor ski centre

Picture by Michael Hepburn

You may not be allowed to take photos or videos

On a busy indoor ski slope, with people whizzing all around the place, it’s almost impossible not to get others in the shot. So a lot of ski centres only allow cameras and video recorders at designated times. We were lucky enough to be offered the services of the centre photographer, to capture those classic moments on the snow. I’d say it’s well worth it.

indoor ski centre

Picture by Michael Hepburn

You’re likely to be able to do more than just ski and snowboard

At the Snozone Milton Keynes, there was also sledging, and a mid-week session for very young children, where they could just go and play in the snow. Most centres seem to offer something like this – sailing down the slopes on big rubber rings, etc.

All in all, we came away with the impression that a trip to an indoor ski centre is a great deal of fun (and you can see more in my video of the day here).


Have you ever visited an indoor ski centre?

Pin for later:

indoor ski centre

If you’d like to read more about skiing in the mountains, after a warm-up at an indoor centre, why not check out these posts:

Our first family ski holiday at Saalfelden Leogang, Austria

Myrkdalen ski resort, Voss, Western Norway

What to expect from the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, Austria



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  1. January 15, 2016 / 11:15 am

    We’ve visited the SnoZone too and we loved it. It was a couple of years ago now and my kids still talk about how much fun it was ๐Ÿ™‚

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:08 pm

      I bet mine will be talking about it for ages too….

  2. January 15, 2016 / 11:44 pm

    We might be going skiing for real at Easter – eek! We went to Chill Factor at Manchester and loved it,

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:08 pm

      Ooh – yippee, I hope it works out for you at Easter! How exciting.

  3. Louise
    January 16, 2016 / 10:16 am

    Snozone is a brilliant day out. We took our son from 2yrs to the SnoPlay sessions, he loved rolling around in the snow. We can’t wait to get him started in lessons once he turns 3yrs. We don’t live close by but it’s worth a monthly trip as you can enjoy skiing, have lunch then shop or watch a film. Great fun day out and beats going to the same old soft plays and farms!

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:07 pm

      I have to agree- we live in south London so it was a trek, but it was an amazing day out-really special.

  4. January 16, 2016 / 10:27 am

    I was surprised by just how cold it actually was when we went x x

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:06 pm

      Yep- minus 5 certainly nips the end of your nose!

  5. January 16, 2016 / 11:51 am

    I honestly didn’t realise it was real snow! Sadly the ski centre in Sheffield has burnt down about three times so it’s a bit of a trek do get to the nearest one now.

    • January 16, 2016 / 6:05 pm

      That’s a shame! These snow centres seem to be popping up around the place though-hopefully you’ll get one near you soon.

  6. January 17, 2016 / 9:48 am

    We recently went to the snow centre at hemel hempstead and adored it. Just wish we had one closer to home

    • January 19, 2016 / 11:45 am

      It’s a fun day out, isn’t it?

  7. January 17, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    I’ve been to this place a few times but never actually gone on the slopes – I just don’t do bum (or face) down in the snow, it’s not my idea of fun!

    • January 19, 2016 / 11:46 am

      Yikes – face down doesn’t sound too pleasant, even to me!

  8. January 18, 2016 / 2:11 pm

    I’m used of skiing outdoors in the Alps, so in-doors skiing doesn’t seem very attractive to me. But if you don’t have any other option to ski, I think it is a good alternative. It also seems like a great place to learn how to ski before heading to the outdoor slopes. ๐Ÿ™‚ #MondayEscapes

    • January 19, 2016 / 11:47 am

      Ha ha yes – well the Alps aren’t quite in the same league! But the Snozone is a good place to warm up for the mountains, I’d say.

  9. January 19, 2016 / 2:10 am

    You had me at the title – I don’t know anything about indoor ski centers – amazing! Here in New York we are just thankful for outdoor snow machines! #mondayescapes

    • January 19, 2016 / 11:47 am

      Yes – I wonder how many other countries have them?

  10. January 19, 2016 / 11:48 am

    Ooh what an informative post. I’ve never been skiing, nor have any of my 4 children. It’s not something I’ve considered until recently at all, but reading this I think I’ll go here it’s not too far from me in Herts. I think it would be a great way to introduce myself and kids to the world of skiing ๐Ÿ™‚ x

    • January 21, 2016 / 8:17 pm

      Let me know how you get on!

  11. January 21, 2016 / 6:12 pm

    Really useful tips here. I am going on my very first ski trip soon so will be learning on the real slopes. I did think about having a go here first but have left it too late. But it’s reassuring your children enjoyed it so much – I’m hoping a scaredy cat adult like me will take to skiing as well as they have.

    • January 21, 2016 / 8:13 pm

      Hope you have an amazing time Trish! It’s a funny old thing to try when you’re an adult, but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

  12. January 28, 2016 / 12:07 pm

    We went here pre-kid, and had so much fun. I am a skier but my hubby wanted to snowboard – I was useless. It really is shocking how cold it is. I will definitely like to take Monkey here, think he would enjoy it – especially the sledging. Great post. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    • January 31, 2016 / 5:04 pm

      I need to master my skiing before trying to snowboard! You’re right, the sledging’s great for kids.

  13. January 9, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    These tips are so useful – I’d love to learn to ski properly one day, especially after a couple of lessons about five years ago. My only other experience is one of those horribly old-fashioned dry ski slopes decades ago so definitely very different today.

    • Nell
      January 15, 2017 / 8:27 pm

      I never went on one of those but I heard they left much to be desired!

  14. January 10, 2017 / 3:05 pm

    Lovely to see a family experience of this, thanks Nell!

    • Nell
      January 15, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      It was fun Penny! x

  15. January 10, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    I had no idea it was real snow either, but its obvious now you point it out!

    • Nell
      January 15, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      Yes it was cold AND wet! xx

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