Most people in Switzerland live and work on the plateau between Geneva and St Gallen. Clocks have now been turned back, and we leave work in the dark. Autumn and its magical colours have past, skiing season has not yet started, leaving most of us in a no-holiday work mode in the mentally tough fog season.
Switzerland is a champion at fog in winter, and several towns compete for domestic honours. However, there is another season that is now upon us that lifts spirits and warms hearts, and that is the Christmas Market season – recognised by the waft of mulled-wine and waffles, charming artisanal stalls, beautiful lights and very often, singing. You would be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped into a Victorian postcard. Given that the Christmas Markets were basically cancelled last year, we are all looking forward to them this year more than ever!
There are large markets happening across the country, as well as the one probably in your village for 2 or 3 days which bring out the neighbours to catch up with each other and enjoy a mulled wine.
Let’s take a peak at some of the larger ones to impress your visiting relatives with, and see what sets them apart.
November 19th to December 24th
One of the largest if not, the largest Christmas Market in Switzerland, Montreux takes up the whole of the main lakeside road and furnishes it with stalls, fairs, activities, hay and animals. And if it is foggy, why not take the train up to see Santa and his grotto above the clouds in Rochers de Naye?
November 25th to December 23rd
Dotted around various parts of the city, it doesn’t seem to stop as it flows through older parts of town with beautiful backdrops such as the cathedral it has a higgeldy-piggedly charm that never feels too cramped.
Basel has now been voted best Chrismas Market in Europe. Go and have a look, and see how it fairs on your list.
The latest advisory from the 18th November, is that for the Basel Christmas Market, all visitors will now need to present a Covid Certificate for entry.
25th November to 24th December 2021
Probably the largest indoor Christmas Market in Europe at the main station with the ceiling high Swarowski Christmas tree and ice rinks as highlights. Don’t think that is the end of it with stalls spilling on to the main shopping street and several further at various old town locations. And if you’ve not found the singing Christmas tree, you haven’t really been !
25th November to 31 December 2021
The look and feel of Bern is designed to host a Christmas Market. It looks like it might have been there as a standard feature all year round. The Market has a stunning backdrop of the parliamentary building and is very cosy. It is potentially somewhere you might want to go in the lost days between Christmas and New Year, as it continues and keeps that area buzzing in this often quiet period.
In addition, there are many markets all over the country and below you can find a list of the main ones, and here you may also find your own local one too:
Unfortunately due to the ongoing virus situation, some of the smaller ones can be still be cancelled at short notice as health recommendations change. Be prepared for enclosed areas such as chalets and restaurants to request Covid certificates or proof of recovery.
The larger markets usually have a souvenir associated to the market such as a glass or a mug with the year stamped on them. Mulled wine is often served in these.
• Visit a Christmas Market with your colleagues after work and play a CHF10 “Secret Santa.”
• Take a romantic stroll around the stalls in the evening with your partner.
• Take the kids to the fair and to see Santa.
• Meet the neighbours for a glass or mug of mulled wine.
• Rekindle the spirits amongst the lights during fog season.
This is also a great time to show visiting relative and family members a beautiful charming side of the country during what is often considered a no holiday, full-on working period before the ski-season starts.
The Christmas Markets in Switzerland can represent a forgotten, attractive and less commercial period in time and they can be a charming release from other more commercially driven and advertised Markets. We recommend you visit one or even more. Please remember to stay safe at all times and follow the advisories. We live in a dynamic world and it pays to be up-to-date and informed!
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