The village of La Brévine in the lovely Swiss Jura
La Brévine, with a population of 630, is famous for being the site of the lowest temperature ever recorded in Switzerland – a frighteningly freezing -41.8C back in 1987.
This winter, conditions haven't been quite so extreme, although the -28.4C seen on January 19th certainly helps explains why the village is nicknamed the 'Siberia of Switzerland'.
Why so chilly?
La Brévine experiences such cold because it sits at the bottom of a high altitude valley, at 1,045m. Under certain conditions the cold gets trapped. It’s an example of science in action that can also be applied to igloo building – dig a dip by the entrance of your igloo and the cold will gather there instead of inside. There’s a handy tip that might come in useful one day.
What’s to celebrate?
The first 'fête du froid' in 2012 celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1987 record low temperature. The festival has been held every year since then and aims to attract tourists to the village so they can revel in the cold conditions.
What is there to do?
Plenty. La Brévine may be chilly, but its landscape in winter has a desolate beauty and is perfect for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice skating on the (sometimes) frozen Taillères lake.
Twilight in La Brévine. Photo; Vallee-Brevine
So, cold beers and igloos then?
Something like that. Villagers and an estimated 4,000 or so visitors will gather on February 2nd for activities and events ranging from a treasure hunt for kids to a 'cold disco', which gets going at 10pm. There will also be an igloo bar, dog and pony sled rides and a fireworks display at 9.30pm, among other attractions. The full program (in French) is here.
Oh, and to show this is an inclusive affair, there will also be a special reception this year for the 'hottest village in Switzerland' – Grono in the canton of Graubünden, which registered the highest temperature ever recorded in the country (41.5C) in the legendary summer of 2003.
Will it actually be cold?
Depends on your perspective – but not terribly, no. The mercury should be around the 0C mark for most of the day on Saturday, according to MeteoSuisse, which is predicting cloudy conditions and light snow showers for the village.
Best of all, there should be snow on the ground which means we shouldn't see a repeat of the situation in 2017 when several events had to be cancelled because it was too warm.
How do I get there?
La Brévine is an easy bus ride from Neuchâtel train station. Free shuttle buses will be put on between La Brévine and the Taillères lake. Or drive and park in a designated car park by the lake.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Local in January 2017.