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10 events in Switzerland you shouldn't miss this December

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
10 events in Switzerland you shouldn't miss this December
The Santa Run Bern is a yearly highlight in Switzerland's capital city. Photo by Humphrey Muleba.

From travelling back in time at medieval markets and historical festivals to swimming competitions and whiskey tasting, here are the top events you shouldn’t miss out on this December in Switzerland.

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Santa Run Bern

As the name suggests, on December 1st Bern invites anyone to partake in its Santa Run Bern where you can either walk or run (at your own pace) from the capital’s Bundesplatz just outside the parliament building (5.30pm start) through Bern’s Old Town.

Participants will be required to dress up for the occasion and don a Santa suit that can be purchased here. If you bring your own Santa suit, you will be entitled to 10 Swiss francs off the starter fee which varies depending on when you sign up for the event.

Medieval Christmas Market

From December 1st until 3rd, the Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall (Castle at the Rhine Falls) in the canton of Zurich will host Switzerland’s only purely Christmas medieval market including falconry, magicians, medieval gastronomy, a tavern, games, and of course Santa Claus.

You can find a detailed programme, which features a range of activities from 12 pm until 10 pm – here.

Illuminarium

While you’re in the Zurich idea, we recommend dropping by the city itself and checking out the Illuminarium at the Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum).

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At this cashless event, visitors can – from December 1st until December 30th – head to the inner courtyard for a spectacular 25-minute light show projected by different international artists. The show is primarily aimed at adults. Outside, visitors will also have the chance to grab a hearty meal at a food stall or the fondue chalet before heading to a bar for a sip.

Swiss Whiskey Festival

If you’re a whisky aficionado in need of a break from everything Christmassy, you’d be wise to drop by Baden’s Swiss Whisky Festival on December 1st (5pm – 10.30pm) and 2nd (2pm – 10.30pm).

For 18 Swiss francs a ticket, you can browse over 1,000 whiskies from 32 exhibitors and 150 distilleries.

Advent calendar

Those looking to spice up the run up to Christmas Day can celebrate the festive season at the Theater Basel. From December 1st to 23rd, the theatre will host a new event every day – from opera to various plays and ballet performances.

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You can find out what's behind the next 'door' on the day at the ticket office or the day before from 6pm via the venue’s SMS messenger. You can register via a pop-up on the Foyer Public website. The theatre has both standing and a limited number of seating places and admission is free.

Christmas Brunch Basel Irish Club

The Irish Club in Basel will be hosting a Christmas brunch on Friday, December 1st from 10.30am (Santa arrives at 11am) at Flanagan’s Irish Bar. You are invited to “indulge in a hearty Irish breakfast buffet featuring traditional soda bread, homemade sausages, crispy bacon, and more”. Vegetarian options will also be available on the day. Adult member tickets are 35 Swiss francs, while non-members pay 45 Swiss francs.

Fête de l'Escalade

From December 8th to 10th, Geneva will once again be hosting its popular historical festival – the Fête de l'Escalade. The festival, which commemorates the night Geneva was stormed (in vain) by the troops of the Duke of Savoy who sought to annex the city to France, features many chocolatiers.

On the day it is custom to break a chocolate pot with family and friends and munch on the chocolate and the vegetable-shaped marzipan tucked away inside.

Coupe de Noël

Organized by Genève Natation 1885, on December 16th and 17th Geneva will be celebrating the 85th edition of the Coupe de Noël, a swimming competition held at the end of the year. The event sees more than 4,000 courageous swimmers brace the icy Lake Geneva without wet suits, fins or gloves in groups of 25.

Though the registration deadline has closed it is still worth dropping by the lake to witness the race first-hand (preferably with a hot drink on hand).

Christmas is in the air tour

If you would like to mix Christmas and sightseeing, we recommend hopping on a train to Lugano – Ticino’s largest city - this December.

From December 2nd until January 6th, the city will be hosting Christmas is in the air, a free tour that allows you to admire Lugano’s festive decorations and fabulous Christmas market while learning more about the city. Note that reservation is required prior to your visit.

Corsa da Natal

The traditional Corsa da Natal - or Christmas race - takes place along the Borgo lanes and the lakeside promenade of Ascona. The competition is open to both experts and amateurs and features different running paths (300m to 6km).

The competition will also take place in relatively bad weather, excluding snow or ice. Adults pay 15 Swiss francs to compete, while children pay 10 Swiss francs to participate and families and groups 30 Swiss francs. Anyone turning up on the day of the event must pay a 5 Swiss franc surcharge.

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