Pre-Christmas skiing often means cheaper ski passes, fewer people on the slopes and shorter lift queues. This, combined with choosing a snowsure ski resort, can make for a winning combination.
Wondering where to find snow in December? OnTheSnow has compiled a list of the top 10 resorts for early season skiing:
1. Val Thorens, France opens mid-November. As Europe's highest major resort (2300m), it is naturally one of the continent's most snowsure, right from the start to the end of winter. It makes up part of the Three Valleys ski area (600km) and skiers can reach a height of 3200 metres. The season kicks off each year with the Ski Force Winter Tour, giving skiers and boarders the chance to test the new models of more than 15 top ski manufacturers for free and benefit from professional advice.
2. Ischgl in Austria is a small, traditional village with a largely pedestrianised centre. All the runs except those going into the resort are set above 2000 metres and many are north-facing so the snow quality is good. Skiers can reach a height of 2872m. It is part of the Silvretta Arena, boasting runs for all levels and one of the best snowparks in the Alps, the snowARTpark.
3. Tignes in France combines with Val d'Isere to make up the Espace Killy ski area (320km). The high altitude of the resort (2100m) means that Tignes' snow-sure factor is one of the highest in France. What Tignes lacks in character, it makes up for in cost: accommodation is more reasonably priced than in neighbouring Val d'Isere.
4. Obergurgl, Austria is Europe's highest traditional village and is one of the first top open each year, in mid-November. Its high-altitude slopes reach a maximum of 3082 metres. Those wondering where to find snow in December will be please to know this resort comes with a snow guarentee (or your money back) and is one of your best bets for a white Christmas.
5. Saas-Fee, Switzerland opens early November. It offers 100 kilometres of high-altitude slopes stretching up to 3500 metres (including the glacier). The picturesque resort is car-free, which means vehicles are parked at a large car-park on arrival at the edge of the village and only small electric taxis, mostly owned by the hotels. Strict planning regulations have maintained traditional Swiss chalet style properties.
6. Hemsedal, Norway is set in the Hallingdal Valley and has established a reputation as the country's premier ski and snowboard resort. It may not sound like snowsure conditions, with a maximum skiing altitude of 1450 metres, but when you're this far north, altitude isn't a problem as almost all precipitation falls as snow. In fact Hemsedal has one of the highest snowfall levels in Europe and is snowsure from early November until May. Hemsedal village has an apline charm and a natural, unspoilt setting. The 42 kilometres of terrain offer a good range of runs for all levels and five snowparks. You'll also find 220 kilometres of cross-country trails.
7. Andermatt is one of the oldest and most picturesque villages in Switzerland. It has long been popular with hardcore skiers yet remains relatively unknown as an international resort. The resort belongs to the Andermatt Gotthard Oberalp Arena ski area and its upper slopes (up to 2963m) open mid-November. Andermatt is particularly popular with snowboarders for its half-pipe and epic off-piste.
8. Obertauern in Austria is easily accessible, just 90 kilometres from Salzburg. Its 90-kilometre ski area (up to 2315m) opens mid-November and the snow is often good enough to ski all the way back to your hotel.
9. Keystone, Colorado boasts snowsure conditions - in large part due to its tree-lined slopes offering protection from the wind. It has some of the most extensive expert skiing in the USA, as well as groomed cruising slopes. The River Run base gives Keystone an Alpine village feel, with shops, bars and restaurants around a square.
10. Big White, Canada, "It's the Snow" is the motto, with over 750cm of powder falling annually. The resort opens mid-November and is famous for its 'snow ghosts' - snow-caked trees that resemble haunting shapes.
Read our five-day forecasts for where to find snow throughout the season.