(Photograph copyright Montreux Noël)
Every year during the holidays, Lake Geneva turns into a destination for Christmas markets. From Lausanne to Montreux, cozy chalets are put up, festive lights are lit and raclette cheese is readied. One town will even be visited by Santa on his sleigh – read on...
Montreux Noël (Nov 21 to Dec 24)
This year, one of Switzerland’s largest Christmas markets is celebrating the 25th anniversary: Montreux Noël. Some 170 illuminated chalets will line the lakeside promenade. Sellers present everything from typical dishes (think raclette, fondue, gingerbread) to handcrafted gifts.
Photograph copyright Laurent Ryser
The guest country in 2019 is Russia, so the market will feature costumes and traditional Russian dishes. But Montreux Noël is much more than a market: there will be live music, light shows and DIY workshops. And for three weekends in December, Chillon Castle provides the setting for "Medieval Magic". At Rochers-de-Naye, which is accessible by train, children get to meet Father Christmas at his home.
And finally, one of our personal highlights is the nightly sleigh ride by Santa Claus himself! High above the lake shore in Montreux, Santa will zip by on his sleigh! He can be spotted in the night sky somewhere between Lumberjack Village and Place du Marché. We truly could not believe our eyes, but there he was, that bearded old fellow...
Bô Noël in Lausanne (Nov 20 to Dec 31)
This season, there is zero reason to feel the year-end Blues. That's because for five weeks through New Year's Eve, Lausanne will host one continuous party: Bô Noël. This Christmas market offers a unique concept as it is set to give the advent season a spin with its focus on local products and artisans.
Photograph copyright Regis Colombo
Throughout the city center of Lausanne, there will be five market venues. Grand St. Francois Market is the ideal venue for a festive after-work meet-up. Mulled wine, seafood platters, chocolate and other wintry sweets, not to mention the countless Christmas shopping opportunities, await you in the many chalets there.
To discover and buy products by local designers, Place Pépinet is the place to go. Also, try the infamous sausages there and wash them down with a cup of mulled wine.
Snuggle up comfortably in the Igloo to enjoy warm specialties 100% local in Place de l'Europe, or bring your little ones in the area of the Cathedral for storytelling, games, crafts workshops, etc.
And finally, to celebrate 2020, head to the Terrace Bel-Air with its heated tent full of cable car cabins and comfy sofas with sheepskin. Designed for winter sports enthusiasts, YOG Lausanne2020 will offer an introduction to curling and bobsleighs – excitement guaranteed!
Lausanne Festival of Lights (Nov 20 to Dec 31)
Here is a truly magical festival for all ages: Lausanne Lumières. This light festival is going to enchant the city center and the old town during the entire advent season.
This event is free of charge, illuminating the hearts of anyone who goes out to discover the bright sculptures made of light. It is a contemporary version of a Christmas festival, highlighting bold and poetic artworks by about fifteen artists. And the best way to enjoy Lausanne Lumières is by following the path of sculptures through the streets.
Our advice: during three evenings, Lausanne's shops and boutiques will stay open late. Why not combine Christmas shopping with a visit to the illuminated sculptures?