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Eat, drink and be merry: Switzerland’s best Christmas markets in 2021

Swiss Christmas markets will open at the end of November.
Christmas markets are back this year in many parts of Switzerland. Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash
After being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, Swiss Christmas markets are back again this year. Here’s an overview to give you the sense of what is going on where this holiday season.

Sparkling lights that cast a magical spell, streets aglow with thousands of sparkling lights and the whiff of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts in the air could only mean one thing: it’s time for the Christmas market extravaganza.

Yes, Christmas markets are back this year but they are not as carefree as they used to be in the pre-pandemic times. A new thing to contend with  is the Covid certificate requirement for some, though this rule doesn’t apply everywhere.

Basel

Spread across two squares — the Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz — Basel’s annual Christmas market  is one of Switzerland’s largest and most picturesque.

About 130 stands spread throughout both locations offer a variety of ornaments, including wood figurines and ceramic decorations, many of which are hand-made by local artists.

There are also regional delicacies, such as Basel Läckerli — gingerbread cookies made of honey, hazelnuts, almonds, candied orange, lemon peel, and various spices.

A Covid certificate is required.

Open: November 28th to December 23rd.

Basel’s markets are scenically located in the Old Town. Photo: Basel.com

Zurich

The largest holiday market in the city, the  “Wienachtsdorf” (Christmas village) on Sechseläutenplatz certainly lives up to its name.

The 120 stalls set up in front of the opera house are laden with an array of decorations and other trinkets. And there is no shortage of food and drink traditionally associated with Christmas, such as mulled wine.

And yes, you can also have a more hearty fare like a cheese fondue — this is, after all, Switzerland.

A Covid certificate is required.

Open: November 25th to December 23rd.

Holiday spirit is alive and well in the Christmas village. Photo by Zurich.com

Montreux

This town in Vaud known for its annual jazz festival and as Freddy Mercury’s stomping ground, also boasts an enchanting Christmas market.

Stretching for more than one kilometre along Lake Geneva’s shoreline, the 150 chalet-style booths offer traditional ornament and decorations, along with Vaud specialties like ham on the bone and platters of cold meat cuts from the Pays d’Enhaut region.

And if you look up into the night sky, you may just be lucky enough to spot Santa Claus flying on his sleigh.

Covid certificate is not required, unless accessing indoor restaurants and other venues

Open: November 19th to December 24th.

Bern

With only 80 wooden huts set up in Berner Sternenmarkt, the market in the country’s capital is smaller than in other major Swiss cities, but it is no less “Christmasy” in its spirit.

There are plenty of holiday trinkets on sale, along with food and wine, as well as children’s “village” that offers the carousel, and other kid-friendly activities and entertainment .

A cozy “fondue chalet” with 200 seats will serve cheese specialties in the heated lounge.

As befits a market that’s located just a snowball’s throw away from the federal Parliament building, Covid certificate will be required in both indoor and outdoor areas.

Open: November 25th to December 31st.

Geneva

The city has several separate, contained market areas, including in the Jardin Anglais, Mont-Blanc, and Plainpalais neighbourhoods.

But perhaps the one best reflecting Geneva’s international flair is the market at Place de la Fusterie, which features decorations, arts and crafts, as well as a wide variety of foods from many different nations.

Covid certificate is required

Open: November 18th to December 26th.

Mont-Blanc market is one of several in Geneva. Photo: Ville de Genève

What about markets in other parts of Switzerland?

Some towns and regions have decided to forego Christmas markets again this year.

This link will give you an idea of what is going on near you. You can find out ether the Covid certificate is required to enter from your local authorities.


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