The progressive Tirolean mountain resort of Ischgl launched its 2014-15 winter season in style with a spine-tingling opening concert by crooner James Blunt.
Ischgl's opening weekend at the end of November drew 17,000 skiers who enjoyed exceptional snow conditions and clear blue skies to herald in the new season. And the aprés-ski took the form of an energetic outdoor concert by Blunt, whose performance as part of his worldwide Moon Landing tour was a huge hit with the 20,000-strong evening crowd as he picked up the pace with his more lively numbers and even braved 'crowd surfing' with the adoring audience.
Said Paznaun-Ischgl Tourist Director Andreas Steibl:
Thanks to its altitude, skiing in Ischgl can be enjoyed up to almost 3,000m. In recent weeks we have benefitted in particular from snowfall from the south , so we can now offer visitors great conditions.
Skier Blunt was on a tight schedule, slotting in Ischgl between gigs in the UK and told fans:
It's an incredible feeling to be able to open the ski season here in Ischgl. I wish I had time to do a few runs. The pistes look fantastic.
Ischgl's five month long winter season is bookended by concerts with big name stars - last season was closed by Robbie Williams, who followed in the footsteps of artists including Elton John, Lionel Richie, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry and Deep Purple in the 20-year-old Top Of The Mountain series of concerts.
The opening weekend also marked the opening of the new Pardatschgratbahn gondola from the village of Ischgl up to the ski area.
Ischgl has invested €40m for skiers and boarders this season with the replacement of the 24-year-old 4-seater Pardatschgratbahn gondolas with a luxury 28-seater tri-cable gondola system. It is the world's highest height difference tri-cable gondola without a middle station - there is a 1,251m height difference from the base station in the village up to the Pardatschgrat peak at 2,624m. In just over nine minutes skiers and boarders are whisked from the village to the top station. The new lift has 31 cabins which have the capacity to transport 2,800 people per hour. The seats are heated using recycled energy from the cables. The former second leg of the Pardatschgratbahn is being retained with the 4-seater cabins running from middle station up to Pardatschgrat and is renamed the Pardoramabahn. This follows last season's €18.5m investment with the opening of the eagerly awaited Piz Val Gronda cablecar, which opened up 100 hectares of freeride skiing and boarding, previously only accessible by snowcat or while ski touring hut to hut.
The identity of the season closing star to perform at Idalp on Saturday 2 May has yet to be announced.
Erna Low is the newest UK tour operator to extend its programme to the Paznaun-Ischgl resorts, please see www.ernalow.co.uk (0207 584 2841) for more details or get back to me for price examples.
Photo credits :TVB Paznaun-Ischgl.
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