The prospects of a good European ski season heighted after Alpine ski resorts opened up to a month early on Friday after the best November snowfall for 20 years.

Resorts such as Verbier, Courchevel and Alpe d’Huez in the northern Alps laid on festivities to welcome tourists for what they said would be an exceptional weekend of skiing.

With temperatures dropping, even some low-lying areas are expected to open before the usual start of the season next month, according to The Times.

With 50cm of snow falling on the highest slopes at Courchevel, the local tourist office laid on concerts and a giant tea party for those skiers who made it through traffic jams to reach the slopes.

Officials at Courchevel said that skiing would be free over the weekend while Alpe d’Huez slashed prices from €51 to €18 a day.

James Cove, editor of PlanetSki.eu, said: “These are the best November snowfalls since 1996 in the north-west Alps.

“It is amazing that we have had this level of snowfall so early in the winter, with the whole of the European Alps already covered in snow.”