Can’t wait for Santa to drop down your chimney? Then join him on the piste! This is a wicked excuse to bask in the beautiful scenery of the Swiss Alps, feel the thrill of Alpine skiing, and rub shoulders with one of the world’s largest collections of Santa Clauses. Leave your reindeer by the fireplace and start waxing up your skis: Santa is taking the piste.
So what is it?
In early December each year the ClauWau Santa Claus Championships revolve around a comprehensive selection of skiing competitions. The preliminary action happens in the resort of Silvretta Arena, in Samnaun, and culminates in a grand final race held on Musellahang.
What to expect
If you can, take the Friday off work and bowl up early, so you’re in time for a festival to welcome punters to the piste, with a family event in the early evening that includes a fashion show and a great deal of music.
Saturday sees the championships begin, with skiing throughout the daytime. The Silvretta Arena in Samnaun features over 200km of pistes that wind through the stunning scenery of the Swiss Alps. Competitors are put through their paces thanks to a variety of Santa-themed tasks and challenges, such as relay races, chimney climbing, and a Santa parade. Most challenges are undertaken in groups of four; groups can be single-sex or mixed.
The competition winners are decided by a grand final in the evening, which is followed by the prize-giving ceremony. If that wasn’t enough, the whole celebration winds up with a free evening concert featuring DJ Ötzi.
Dress to impress
Skiing – costumes – Alpine retreats: all this sounds a bit costly, no? At least participation in ClauWau is free, which makes for a richer experience. The one condition for participation in the ClauWau Championships is that all team members compete in a Santa costume. If you forget yours (or have it confiscated at the airport) a limited number of costumes are available to borrow, at a deposit of CHF 30, from the Samnaun Tourist Information.
Complementing a cultural tradition
In this German-speaking area of Switzerland the time of year is known as Samichlaus, and the tradition of St. Nicholas remains strong to this day. It’s a common practise for families to dress up as Saint Nicholas and his two assistant ‘Schmutzlis’. Children carry cowbells round the village, singing songs and reciting poems for other families in each house. The children are then rewarded with money and sweets. ClauWau complements this tradition with its Santa Claus parade and festive atmosphere.
ClauWau Santa Claus hotel tips
If you still need to sort out your accommodation for the ClauWau Santa Claus Championships, Easytobook.com has a good selection of Samnaun hotels for you to choose from.
One of the best recommendations is the Hotel Bündnerhof, a three-star hotel with a perfect TripAdvisor score.
Vital-Hotel Samnaunerhof can offer a similar level of quality, while Wellness Hotel Chasa Montana Samnaun is a four-star accommodation that also provides massage and beauty treatments – perfect for pampering amidst the gorgeous scenery.