Like every year, we would have loved to present you with a huge line-up of traditional Swiss Christmas markets.
But 2020 is different in every respect. Due to the spread of the Coronavirus, we had to learn to adapt. We have decimated our social contacts and we have stayed indoors more than ever. And now that we are approaching Christmas, we remember the previous year's events and gatherings. The times we met up with friends for mulled wine, to ice-skate or to share a fondue.
These happenings will not be possible in 2020, but Switzerland's towns and cities have been creative in putting together some safe events. From old towns that are lit with Christmas lights to virtual storytelling hours, there is something for every age. Our recommendation: check the event's website before you go in case things have changed.
Here is our guide of hand-picked Swiss Christmas events in 2020! (Last updated: Nov 22)
Oct 24 - Jan 31 in Zürich
After signing in at the entrance, an enchanted garden awaits. Frau Gerolds Garten is decked with beverage stations and food trucks serving holiday fare. (You have to be seated during consumption.) Fire pits and furs will keep you warm while you gaze at the decorations. Every Saturday from 11:30 AM to 5 PM, there will be a small gift market - the perfect place to stock up on little gifts.
The winter garden at Frau Gerolds Garten is open weekdays from 5 PM to 11 PM, as well as on weekends from 11:30 AM until 11 PM (Sat) and 10 PM (Sun).
Nov 19 - Dec 23 in Zürich
Primarily known for Oktoberfest, Bauschänzli has been turned into a Christmas food market. The Weihnachts-Insel in the heart of Zürich has a vintage food truck serving savory and sweet treats. Warm beverages are available inside the tent, and there are plenty of chairs and furs to cuddle up outdoors as well.
And finally, six raclette chalets are reserved for small groups. Bauschänzli is open weekdays from 4 PM to 10 PM, as well as on weekends from noon until 10 PM. Payments via Twint and Apple Pay - cash is not accepted.
Nov 19 - Dec 31 in Lausanne
Bo Noël has established itself as a hip Christmas market. This year, the market has been canceled. Instead, the organizers are spreading Christmas cheers by lighting up the rue de Bourg shopping mile. Night shopping is possible from 5 PM to 9 PM daily.
In the Flon neighborhood, there will be a giant snow globe encompassing the fountain on the Esplanade. And in the historic cobbled square of La Palud, the giant Christmas tree will be leaning against the fountain like every year. These are just some of the highlights - check the website for more ways to enjoy Christmas in Lausanne.
Nov 21 - Dec 19 in Interlaken
Winterzauber Pop.Up 2020 is a month-long Christmas event in Interlaken. From knit to baked, local vendors sell their gifts every Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM at various locations. Why not hop onto Santa's courtesy shuttle to get from one space to the next? And while you are there, why not participate in the scavenger hunt across Interlaken by solving 16 quizzes?
Nov 24 - Dec 24 in Lausanne
The Festival Lumières is Switzerland's festival of lights. While walking through the old time, you will encounter eight different buildings and monuments that are illuminated. Each illumination was conceived by a local artist or students.
Nov 25 - Dec 12 in Russikon
A merry-go-round, poinsettia decorations and fire pits to bake your own bread: the Weihnachts-Zirkus-Zauber at Unicum in Russikon seems like loads of fun. Daily from 2 PM to 6 PM, you get to enter a circus themed Christmas spectacular inside the greenhouses of this nursery.
Nov 25 - Dec 20 in Trubschachen
Our favorite Swiss cookie bakery is spreading Christmas cheers as part of the Kambly Christmas Village. Apart from the local handicrafts on sale, you can bake your own biscuits or make a chocolate Santa with the help of a master confectioner. The village is open Wednesday to Friday from noon to 6 PM, as well as Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 PM.
Nov 26 - Dec 23 in Zürich
Located in front of the Enge train station, the Winterdorf at Tessinerplatz is promising to be a Christmas market with the works: foods ranging from gyros to raclette, fire pits and booths selling Christmas gifts.
Take tram 5, 7 or 10 straight to Tessinerplatz. The market is open daily from 11:30 AM to 9 PM, with extended hours until 10 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Nov 27 in Frauenfeld
Sadly, the largest Christmas market in eastern Switzerland is canceled. Nonetheless, Frauenfeld is hosting a one-night Christmas shopping event featuring nine of the most popular vendors from previous years. (All stores remain open until 10 PM.) And finally, Nov 27 is the launch of the GeschichtenLichter projections in the old town, a beautiful way of experiencing the story of Christmas.
Nov 27 in Turgi AG
The one-day Christmas market in Turgi comes with the works: festive stalls selling crafts and foods. (2 - 8 PM)
Nov 27 - 29 in Geneva
Geneva will be hosting a weekend-long Christmas market at Pâquis by the lake. Look out for raclette, mulled wine and handcrafted gifts on sale.
Nov 27 - Dec 23 in Chur
The oldest town in Switzerland hosts a Christmas market which is open daily. Shoppers and foodies will be equally pleased by the booths in Chur's center. (Daily from 11 AM - 6 PM, but check website for extended hours.)
Nov 27 or 28 - Dec 24 in Bern
The Christmas market in front of the Bern Minster cathedral is somewhat of an insider tipp. What sets it apart from other Christmas markets are the vendors. They are largely locals who are hawking handcrafted gifts. (Daily from 11 AM - 6 PM, but check website for extended hours.)
Nov 27 - Jan 3 in Baar
Imagine an enchanted trail lit up by 2000 LED lights. At the foot of the Baarburg hill, the organizers have set up a 1.5-kilometer, one-way trail for all ages: Lichterweg Baar. Start from Kapelle Heiligkreuz and keep a safe distance between groups. (Daily from 5 - 11 PM)
Nov 27 - Jan 6 in Rheinfelden
We love Rheinfelden during summer, but we have never been during the holidays. This season, local businesses and clubs are gearing up to present an exciting line-up of events. There's a Jazz concert, visits by Swiss Santa, ice sculpting and more. Those who would rather avoid being among other people can always gaze at the Christmas lights from across the River Rhine.
Nov 28 in Arbon
One of the few Christmas markets to take place this year is in Arbon. The city of trees announced that there will be no food vendors. Wearing of a face mask is obviously mandatory. And for a smoother flow, market booths will be placed on one side of the street exclusively. (10 AM - 7 PM)
Nov 28 in Davos
The vendors at the Christmas market in Davos pride themselves for only selling handcrafted goods. This year, the market will take place on Postplatz. (11 AM - 6:30 PM)
Dec 1 - Jan 6 in Lugano
The old town of Lugano will feature about 50 market stalls, festive lights and decorations. On Piazza della Riforma, there will be a giant decorated Christmas tree. And from mid December, your train ride to Lugano will be even shorter thanks to the opening of the Ceneri tunnel. For instance, the trip from Zürich to Lugano will be less than two hours.
Dec 3 - 20 in Rapperswil
The so-called WiehnachtsStädtli takes place every week from Thursday through Sunday. This year, the Rapperswil Christmas market will offer a smaller scale thn usual on the following squares: Fischmarktplatz, Hauptplatz and Engelplatz.
Dec 4 - 6 in Glarus
During one weekend, Zaunplatz in Glarus will turn into a Christmas village. Expect festive decor, stalls with food and gifts, as well as activities for the kids. As a highlight, Samichlaus will be visiting the kids twice: Saturday from 2 to 5 PM, and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM.
Dec 4 - 24 in Biel/Bienne
The Christmas market in Biel is traditionally along the Nidaugasse shopping alley. The organizers tell us that there will be some 70 vendors, although no foods or beverages..
Dec 5 in Cham
Here is a chance for the kids to meet Swiss Santa up close and personal! From 4:30 - 6 PM, Samichlaus will be visiting Cham's Villettepark by the lake.
Dec 5 in Luzern
On several days in December, the Weinmarkt plaza in Luzern's old town will feature an artisanal market. Check the website below for the remaining dates.
Dec 5 in Unterägeri
How to descrice the local Chlauseslä tradition that dates back to the 16th century? In the afternoon, school kids would beg for small gifts by knocking on windows with a sort of hobbyhorse donkey. The organizers have called off the parade, but they still want people to enjoy this tradition in a safe way. In any case, we recommend a walk through town to marvel at the Iffälä lanterns displayed in shop windows.
Dec 5 - 8 in Kriens LU
The historic Bellpark will turn into a Christmas village this December. Foodies will appreciate the wide variety of dishes, from Asian to pizza. Or you might just BBQ your own sausage on the open fire! (11 AM - 11 PM, but check website for extended hours.)
Dec 6 in Saanen
The charming town of Saanen will host their own Christmas market. From 2 to 8 PM, stroll among vendors hawking gifts and edibles.
Dec 8 in Brugg
The traditional Santa Claus market is taking place in Brugg from 9 AM to 6 PM. Ahead of your visit, check the website to ensure that it is taking place as planned.
Dec 8 - 23 in Sion
The Sion Christmas market is home to some 45 stalls on the Place du Midi and the Espace des Remparts. It is open Monday through Friday from 2 to 7 PM, and from 11 AM t 7 PM on the weekend.
Dec 9 - 23 in Thun
The beautiful town of Thun hosts a traditional Christmas market. Located by the covered bridge on Waisenhausplatz, this market has no less than 40 booths with goods such as wooden crafts, jewelry or upcycled gifts. (Daily from 11 AM - 5 PM - check website for extended hours.)
Dec 10 in Altstätten SG
The traditional Niklaus Christmas market is taking place in the old town. From 8 AM until 6 PM, find market vendors throughout the old town - as well as Samichlaus and Schmutzli. The Swiss Santa and his sidekick will be handing out goodies to the little ones.
Dec 24 in Klosters
Anyone is welcome to celebrate Christmas Eve in the Rütiwald forest. Christmas songs, Santa and his donkey and mulled wine will be essential components of this experience. (Face masks are mandatory.)
Dec 25 in Wengen
What a nice proposition: "Christmas in the forest" is Wengen's way of spreading holiday cheer. At 4:30 PM, those who want to take part will start to walk from Eigerhubel to the Flühlenboden forest. Once there, enjoy mulled wine, sing Christmas carols and participate in English, catholic and protestant sermons.