If you love skiing, jet planes and stunning mountain scenery then you need to plan a visit to Switzerland’s Lauberhorn Ski Races.
The legendary downhill race in Wengen is the longest and most challenging men’s race in the FIS Ski World Cup. The Lauberhorn slalom race is just as exciting. Add to that a flypast by the SWISS Airbus A321 and the Patrouille Suisse aerobatic team and you’ve got an exhilarating weekend lined up. Here’s how you can plan a visit for yourself.
FIS Ski World Cup Lauberhorn
I visited the Lauberhorn 2020 World Cup Ski Races in Wengen, Switzerland in January. The Lauberhorn is a mountain in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland, located between Wengen and Grindelwald. The race, which began in 1930, is one of the toughest on the circuit and the oldest downhill ski race in the world.
Set against a backdrop of the dramatic Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains, the race showcases Switzerland at its absolute best. VIP hospitality helped make it a fabulous weekend which I won’t forget in a hurry.
We set off from the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel in Interlaken early on Saturday morning. Our first train ride from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald climbed through the valley passing snowy scenes of Alpine prettiness. A change of train and the views got more dramatic with the mountain panorama spreading out before us. We arrived at Kleine Scheidegg and set off with a crowd of walkers, sledders and one or two skiers on the 40-minute downhill trek to Wengernalp.
Canadian Corner Hospitality
We were lucky to have VIP passes so we headed to hospitality located at the Canadian Corner. The views from the grandstand were fabulous with pole position for the final straight, bend and the finish line. We were treated to the best in Swiss hospitality with delicious food and wine.
The crowd on the slope behind us also had great views of the finish line and was multiplying and by the minute. They were having a lot of fun with a local band, food stalls and a growing sense of anticipation. The event sees up to 35,000 attendees so there’s quite a party atmosphere.
Make sure that have the right camera for taking all those amazing action shots
SWISS Airbus flypast with the Patrouille Suisse jets
We saw them before we heard them. The sleek SWISS Airbus and a formation of red Patrouille Suisse jets emerged dramatically from the cloud and sped across the perfect blue sky above our heads. The roar of the jet engines followed close behind as the planes disappeared into the distance.
The display was stunning and I’ll never truly comprehend the skill and precision of the pilots flying in such close proximity to the mountains. The SWISS Airbus looked as light and nimble as the bright red Patrouille Suisse fighter jets.
There were about four flypasts of different formations with the planes appearing from different directions each time. We were definitely kept on our toes trying to work out where they’d appear from next.
As the airline of Switzerland, SWISS Air has been proud to support the Lauberhorn Races in the Bernese Oberland since 2012.
The Lauberhorn Downhill Race
The end of the flypast signals the start of the Lauberhorn downhill race. The elite skiers cover a route of around 4.5 km. The maximum speed ever achieved was a lightning fast 161.9 km per hour on the Haneggschuss, the fastest section of the route.
We watched as the skiers literally flew down the mountainside. At one point some were high in the air for more than a few seconds drawing gasps from the crowd. The race paired with the panoramic mountain backdrop was breath taking.
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The following day we headed back up the mountain to Wengen to a different site for the slalom race. Wengen is a Swiss hotspot for winter sports and is the perfect place to base yourself for a Swiss ski holiday. Wengen is a car-free village and the walk to the race was incredibly picturesque with epic views over the village and down the snow-covered valley.
The Lauberhorn Slalom Race
The slalom was just as exciting as the downhill. We’d watch the first part of the race on the screen waiting for the first glimpse of the skiers as they flashed down the mountain and into view.
Around 70 skiers took part and we watched as they took it, in turn, to weave their way down the mountain at incredible speed through the slalom flags. There were plenty of thrills and spills as each racer tried to beat the fastest time. When it was the turn of the Swiss contenders the course came alive with red fluttering Swiss flags and extra loud cheering.
Don’t forget to take a camera for all those action shots of the skiers flying past.
The SWISS Lounge
We watched from the warmth of the SWISS Lounge and had great seats right in front of the finish line with amazing views of the Zielsack. SWISS flight attendants looked after us beautifully serving us delicious food and wine. Swiss cheese is so good!
As well as enjoying the Swiss quality and hospitality we had the chance to meet the SWISS Airbus A321 and the Patrouille Suisse pilots who’d wowed us the day before with their epic air displays. The race winners are also interviewed in the Swiss Lounge after the race.
If you are a fan of professional winter sports then a visit to the Lauberhorn races is a must-do. Here’s how to plan your own trip.
Suggested reading if you enjoy Ski racing: Back up on Skis: My Journey Back to Ski Racing: The True Story of Aubrie Mindock or how about Prime Ski Racing: Triumph of the Racer’s Mind
Where to stay for the Lauberhorn ski races
We stayed in Interlaken at the beautiful Victoria Jungfrau Hotel Access by train to the Lauberhorn races and from Zurich and Bern airports is straightforward. There are plenty of activities to enjoy in and around Interlaken which is set between two lakes in the heart of the Bernese Oberland region.
Alternatively, if you want to ski and be nearer to the slopes you could base yourself in Wengen, one the Alp’s prettiest villages. You’ll find a good choice of hotels and chalets but will need to book up well in advance as this is Wengen’s busiest time of year. Wengen is good for all skiing abilities with most slopes suitable for beginners and intermediates.
Hotels in Switzerland use two different types of plugs for electrical equipment. Plug type C (which has two round pins) and type J ( which has three round pins).
Check the current availability of accommodation for the Interlaken Switzerland area.
How to get to Interlaken
SWISS is the Official Airline of the International Lauberhorn Races. They fly from London Heathrow and London City airports to Zurich several times a day. Take the train from ZRH Airport to Bern and change in Bern for your train to Interlaken West.
If you are flying from any UK airport, instantly save on airport parking with Purpleparking before leaving.
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Getting to the Lauberhorn Downhill Race from Interlaken
Take the 08.35 a.m. train from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald and then another train to Kleine Scheidegg. From here walk to Wengernalp (45 minutes, slightly downhill on snow). Just follow the crowds. Make sure to wear good shoes for walking in the snow, so you don’t slip.
Trains from Interlaken Ost depart at XX:05 and XX:35 each day from 06:05 a.m. Once you get to Grindelwald the train times aren’t so exact as some trains fill up and you may have to wait for the next one. The trains run constantly but if you set out earlier it’ll be less crowded.
I recommend you take the 08.35 a.m. train at the very latest.
For the return, journey walk down to Wengen and take the train back to Interlaken Ost.
Getting to the Lauberhorn Slalom Race from Interlaken
Take the 08.35 a.m. train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen and then change trains for Wengen. On arrival in Wengen walk to the race site which takes around 35 minutes.
The return journey is the same in reverse.
Check the SBB site for individual and up to date train times.
⇒ Make sure you have the right travel insurance before travelling to Switzerland.
The Swiss Travel Pass
The Swiss Travel Pass (STP) entitles you to unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network. The pass is available for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days and is only available to non-residents of Switzerland or the Principality of Liechtenstein.
You can buy the pass online or at every major rail station in Switzerland (e.g.at Zurich or Geneva airports) as well as at the tourist offices in Zurich, Berne, Basel, Geneva and Lucerne. You may need to show your passport with your STP so take it with you.
Lauberhorn 2021 Tickets
There are various ticketing options for the Lauberhorn races. For information on general admission, grandstand tickets and admission for ski pass holders check the Lauberhorn Race site. Tickets go on sale on early November 2021.
The currency used across Switzerland is Swiss Franc
- Children up to age 5 get a free entrance to the Races and do not need a train ticket
- The 91st Lauberhorn Ski Races run from 15-17 January 2021
- Friday: Alpine Combined Downhill and Combined Slalom
- Saturday: Downhill
- Sunday: Slalom
Have you ever been to the Lauberhorn races? If not, book a flight and plan it now for 2021.
Other Ski Resorts in Switzerland
Discover other Ski Resorts in Switzerland, then feel free to read the following. All are great options for ski holidays.
- A Guide on Things to Do – Davos, Switzerland
- The Ultimate Skiing Guide – Champéry Switzerland
- A traditional Swiss stay at the Le Chalet de l’Atelier – Champéry Switzerland
- Top things to do – St Moritz Switzerland
If you are staying in Zurich before or after your ski holiday or you simply want to take a break from your skiing. Then there is plenty of activities to do that you be booked in advance.
Disclaimer: I attended the Lauberhorn 2020 ski races in Wengen as a guest of Swiss Air. However, all views and opinion are entirely my own.
Here are some good suggestions for day backpacks for skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing, all are reasonably priced.