You may think the hashtag, #girlswhoride, might throw up some steamy imagery, and while it tends to predominantly showcase babes on bikes, it’s also used by the occasional female snowboarder showing off her style or skill on the slopes. This month, Fresh Habits teamed up with female bloggers The Unisex Mode to highlight female boarding ability and winter fits with a trip to Horizon Festival 2016, situated on the snowy mountains of Bansko, Bulgaria. Coming into its fourth year, Horizon Festival showcases the world’s most underground artists from a range of genres, everything from Deep Techno to Hip Hop. The festival boasts eleven different venues dotted throughout the town and up into the mountains; our highlight being The Secret Hotel, a hotel concealed off a mountain road that can only be described as a trippy Alice in Wonderland style squat.
The week saw stand out performances from the likes of Goldie, Lady Lesshur, Flowdan, Elijah & Skilliam, Craig Charles and Congo Natty. For those looking to enjoy themselves further than the dance floor, there are thermal pool raves, paintball wars in the forest and hot tub cinemas, perfect for those sore muscles. It’s a pretty diverse and entertaining setting for those that can’t ski or board, but even more so for those who can. As a group of girls with mixed abilities when it comes to snowboarding, a few of us took a refresh beginners lesson at an artificial slope and ski centre situated an hour outside of London. The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, offers private lessons from £99 and group sessions from £47. The lesson involves free equipment hire and short tutorials on heel and toe edge, with plenty of practical to get you used to the feel of the stances and board.
Bansko, currently the fastest developing winter resort in the Balkans, is a town steeped in historical and traditional Bulgarian flair. Visit the Old Town for quaint cobbled streets, smoking chimneys, and handmade leather and fur crafts. The town is host to World Cup Alpine Ski races throughout the winter and National Biathlons in the summer. Aside from Horizon, there is also a Jazz festival and an Opera festival that occur throughout the summer months. Accomodation at the resort is widely varied and affordable. Our stay was made comfortable by the 5* Kempinski Hotel, that sits at the bottom of the mountain, closest to the gondola. With spectacular views of the mountain, the Kempinski is the only hotel with access to the ski road, allowing guests to ski straight to its doors at peak season. Awarded frequently for its Spa facilities, the hotel offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools and Jacuzzi, 12 treatment rooms, snow room and various sauna and steam rooms. Fully equipped gym and tennis courts are also available.
The town is heaving with traditional Bulgarian restaurants offering grilled meats, musakas and shopska salads. Despite the simplicity of some of the meals on offer, with all tourist destinations the cuisine can be quite hit and miss. To avoid disappointment, or for a finer dining experience, the Kempinski is the only place in town where one can find Japanese. It’s infamous Teppanyaki Bar & Grill, includes live cooking shows where highly trained Asian chefs chop and dice ingredients in front of you. Booking is advisable but worth the experience.
Early bird tickets for next year’s Horizon are currently available for £89.00 and this includes a free upgrade to VIP. Offer ends 30th April. Rooms at the Kempinski Hotel Grand Area start from £56.00 in November 2016 at the beginning of the ski season.