Swiss Christmas market season set to kick off

The season to be jolly in Switzerland is getting under way in earnest on Friday when some of the country’s most famous Christmas markets open for business.

Swiss Christmas market season set to kick off
Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, outside his Rochers de Naye 'home' overlooking Lake Geneva. Photo: Montreux tourism office

The most celebrated market in the Lake Geneva region is kicking off in Montreux, in the canton of Vaud, featuring 150 decorated chalets lighted up for the season along the waterfront.

Spread over five sites, the 20th annual market offers Christmas decorations, crafts, regional food tastings, mulled wine and gift ideas, according to the Montreux tourism office.

A covered market provides another venue for merchants to hawk wares, wandering musicians are promised and a variety of attractions for children, including a Ferris wheel, a kids’ workshop and “Santa’s post office”.

This year, organizers are touting a spectacle with Father Christmas riding with his sleigh and reindeer over the lake during Christmas parades set for the evenings of December 13th and 14th.

Related activities are planned at the nearby Chateau of Chillon, overlooking Lake Geneva, in the municipality of Caux and at the Rochers de Naye, a 2,042-metre mountain accessible by a cog railway from Montreux.

Caux, also reached by the train, is opening a Christmas village with displays and activities for children, including appearances by reindeer on December 6th, 7th, 8th, 13th and 14th.

At the top of the Rochers de Naye “an enchanted grotto” billed as Father Christmas’s home is opening.

The GoldenPass rail company is offering packages for overnight stays on the mountain in a yurt or family room.

In Lucerne, a Christmas market at the main train station kicks off on Friday with 50 festively decorated huts and musicians.

Switzerland’s largest Christmas market, meanwhile, is slated to open on November 27th.

More than 190 traders and artisans will set up in chalets in the Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz in the Old Town, which is decorated for the season.

The opening of the market is set to coincide with the switching on of Christmas lights in the city centre.

In Zurich, Christmas lights were turned on in the Bahnhofstrasse, the city’s top shopping precinct, on Thursday night, when 150 shops stayed open beyond the usual closing time until 10pm.

In Lausanne, meanwhile, the third annual festival of lights will be inaugurated on Friday night, running until December 31st.

For more information about Christmas market and related activities across Switzerland, check the Switzerland Tourism website

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