The village of La Brévine in the Swiss Jura, which registered a record low of -41.8C back in 1987. It hasn’t quite reached those heady lows so far this winter, recording only -29.9C on January 6th. Still, no wonder it’s 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 in this dip. 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?
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. In 2012, on the 25th anniversary of its record low temperature, the village decided to create a festival to celebrate all these cold weather activities.
La Brévine - chilly, but beautiful. Photo: Caroline Bishop
So, cold beers and igloos then?
Something like that. Villagers and visitors will gather on February 4th for a 15km snowshoe walk, free cross-country ski initiations, dog sledding, snow sculptures, a treasure hunt for kids and hot-air balloon rides over the snowy landscape. You can also explore the artisan craft market and tuck into a hearty fondue in a local restaurant.
A fireworks display will be held in the early evening before revellers party the night away at a ‘cold disco’. If you need further warming up, the area’s local tipple, absinthe, might come in handy.
Will it actually be cold?
Er, not so much. After several weeks of sub-zero temperatures giving Switzerland its coldest January for 30 years, it’s warming up this week. The mercury should hover between 1-3C in La Brévine on Saturday, according to MeteoSuisse. Let's hope there'll be enough snow left.
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.