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Dry Ski Slopes have been entertaining us since the 1960’s but recent years have seen a rise in ‘Real Snow’ centres across the world. These giant, warehouse sized, fridges offer an amazing opportunity to ski on real snow, at any time of year and in any climate.

Perhaps the most astonishing example of this is Ski Dubai. Situated in the middle of the desert this winter wonderland boasts 22,500 square meters of indoor skiing, a chair lift, mountain themed decorations, a tube slide and…. Real life Texan Penguins!

Snow Penguins

Snow penguins at Ski Dubai.

There are now an awesome 6 indoor real snow centres across the UK – and while your chances of encountering a snow penguin during your trip may be minimal these still offer a great day out. From beginners to advanced skiers and boarders there is something for everyone, whether you want to perfect your technique or just ‘give it a go’ it is well worth a trip.

So here are our top tips for using the UK’s indoor snow centres:

Dress Appropriately.

As we mentioned these snow centers are, in essence, a rather large, fancy fridge. In order to be able to make the cool snow you will ski on they are constantly kept at a temperature of between -1 and -5 degrees, so dress warmly! Warm mid layers are a must and we would recommend either ski pants and a ski jacket or waterproof trousers and coat. Definitely get your gloves on and it is a good idea to wear a helmet too.

Equipment hire.

All of the UK’s snow centers have rental facilities so if you are happy to hire kit then there is no need to carry all of your heavy ski stuff with you. You may be in love with your boots, board or skis in which case bring them along, but if you do not own your own kit there is no need to run around trying to borrow stuff. The centres are well equipped with rentals and hire is sometimes included in the cost of your slope pass.

Bringing your own kit.

If you are bringing your own gear it is worth thinking about how suitable it will be before you lug it there. The indoor pistes are generally made to mirror a smooth groomed mountain run so think twice before packing your powder skis ;)

The Snow Centre groomed piste

Perfect conditions at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead.

Go early for the best snow.

As with the runs on the mountain the indoor slopes are pisted overnight, so if you want a taste of that perfect corduroy head there early in the day. This is even more important in the indoor slopes as there is a smaller area on offer so the snow can get chopped up quite quickly.

Avoid peak times.

If possible try to avoid the busiest times, afternoons and weekends tend to be the peak and can be crowded with bigger ques. If you can make it mid week then you might just hit the jackpot with empty slopes and perfect snow.

Freestyle Chill Factor

Freestyle at the Manchester Chill Factor

Look out for events.

Many of the snow centers will put on events and themed sessions such as freestyle or bumps. These have been incredibly successful, fueling a love of the sport and uncovering some amazing talent. If you are into the theme they are awesome and give you a real chance to nail your technique. But if you are not fussed about freestyle it’s probably best to avoid the themed sessions, as they tend to be busy and leave little space available for people wanting to work on something different.


The snow centres are a great place to take your first steps as a skier or boarder. If you are planning your first ski holiday then we recommend giving it a go indoors first or if you are keen to get into the sport in the UK there is lots of scope for development. But check your level before you go. If you are a beginner you may need to book an intro lesson before you are let lose on the slopes so check details of this with your local centre before your trip.

Penguins or no penguins we are pretty excited about what is on offer for skiing in the UK. So go on, give it a go. Or if you are a snow centre addict then we would love to know what keeps you going back. Let us know in the comments below.