3 Decades of Indoor Snow Centres Catalogued in 375 page 2020 Indoor Snow Centres Guide

The 2020 edition of the World Indoor Snow Centre Guide marks the completion of the third full decade of indoor snow centres existing.

In that time 145 centres have been built in 35 countries on six continents.

The past 12 months have been a big year for the world’s indoor snow centre as it has seen three of the five largest yet open, including the first major new centre in Europe for many years.

It has also seen the number of currently operational centres worldwide pass the 100 mark with 110 centres now open in 30 countries on six continents. 

The latest country and final continent (except Antarctica) to get an operational indoor snow ski centre, was the USA and North America in December 2019.

2019 also saw more centres open than in any other year to date marking the completion of the ‘bounce back’ in projects since the 2008 financial crash.

The Guide’s publisher, Snow Hunter Ltd which runs specialist website IndoorSnowNews.com the world’s only active website providing news and collated information on the world’s indoor snow centres (“sometimes known as ‘snowdomes’), uses the fact that it now holds 33 years of data and information to compare indoor snow centres of the 1990s, along with those of the first and second decades of the 2000s.

2020 also marks the completion of three full decades since the first refrigerated indoor snow centres with real snow began opening in the late 1980s, allowing Snow Hunter Ltd to look back and compare data totals from the three separate decades.

The good news is that the period from 2010 to 2019, which initially saw all projects ground to a halt after the economic crash, has bounced back to see more centres built (60) than any prior decade, including four of the six largest ever built.

It also saw a return to Asia (this time driven by China) as the continent that has the most has seen the most new facilities open, as it was in the 1990s, although the centres were being built in Japan then. The first decade of this century saw Europe get the most facilities.

In other findings the resort’s authors have calculated the number of people having learned to ski on indoor snow, many of them continuing on to conventional outdoor slopes, has passed 50 million.

Critics of indoor snow centres say that operating giant indoor fridges for leisure purposes is not a good idea in a climate crisis, however there is some good news there with ever great efficiencies, driven in part by the desire to cut costs; as well as moves by some European facilities to cover their vast rooves with solar panels, sometimes generating more solar energy than the centre actually needs to operate and exporting the excess to the local grid.   

  • The World Indoor Snow Centre Guide is a 17MB, 375 page, 77,000 word PDF document delivered to buyers by WeTransfer.  First compiled in 2003, and updated several hundred times since, it lists every indoor snow centre planned, built or under construction, with descriptions, key stats and hundreds of images. It also has sections on various aspects of indoor snow centre operations, the companies involved and numerous tables comparing centre sizes. There’s also a chronology of centre openings.

The report is written by leading ski travel writer Patrick Thorne (www.TheSnowhunter.com), also the author of Amazon’s best-selling ski travel book for the past six years, and costs $200US / €180 / £160 from Snow Hunter Ltd.

Key Updates to the 2020 Edition

•             The number of currently operational* indoor snow centres worldwide has passed the 100 mark for the first time – reaching 110

•             2019 saw more indoor snow centres open worldwide than any other year.

                Centres opening in the past 12 months include the first two with indoor gondola lifts – although one has already switched its gondola to a chairlift.

•             Three of the five-biggest indoor snow centres in the world, including two with 50,000sqm+ (500,000+ square feet) indoor snow space, have opened in the past 12 months.

•             The number of countries with currently operational* indoor snow centres worldwide has passed the 30 mark for the first time.

•             The guide has a new list: “Most Frequently Used Indoor Snow Centre Names”

•             The total number of indoor snow centres built since the first in the modern era in the late 1980s (including those that have subsequently closed) has passed 140.

•             Number of people estimated to have learned to ski on indoor snow in past 30 years now 50 million plus.

•             China’s SUNAC group has become the world’s largest operator of indoor snow centres, operating seven centres, including the world’s three largest. Two are under construction, most opened in the past year.

•             India has become the third country after Japan and China to operate at least 10 centres.

•             The first indoor snow ski slope in North America has finally opened, the sixth continent to get such a facility.  It means now only Antarctica doesn’t have one.

•             The world’s first indoor snow centre that is still operating, which opened in Japan in the 1950s, has closed for a major overhaul, but is due to re-open for winter 2020-21.

•             The first major indoor snow centre in Europe for several years has opened near Oslo in Norway. It has the continent’s new largest indoor snow area.

•             Analysis of the last three decades of indoor snow centre construction saw the past decade had the most indoor snow centres built (60), up from 43 the previous decade and 34 built in the 1990s.

•             Asia (especially China) saw the most-new indoor snow cenres built since 2010, as it did in the 1990s (back then most were built in Japan).  Between those two decades Europe built the most facilities in the first decade of this century.

•             The past decade saw the first indoor snow centres open in Africa, North and South America.

•             Several groups have emerged which own 6 or more indoor snow centres.

                People in 10 countries only have snow indoors which they can see, touch and play with, thanks to having an indoor snow centre, they do not normally receive natural snowfall outdoors.

•             More and more centres have added huge solar arrays to generate the power they need, led by the SnowWorld Group. 

•             The first indoor snow centre in Pakistan has opened, the first in Sri Lanka is under construction.

•             More than half of all indoor snow centres built in the past decade have been built in China, almost a fifth in India.

•             Centres built in the past five years have included four of the world’s five biggest by slope area, representing the first big changes in the list of the biggest areas since most of the previous biggest centres opened in the first five years of this century.

•             A new list of the ‘Groups Operating the Most Indoor Snow Centres’ has been added.

(* A percentage remain closed in summer 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions but expect to re-open)