Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Are you craving the aroma of cinnamon and mulled wine, and the dazzling display of Christmas lights adorning quaint European facades?
Then Switzerland, the original winter holiday destination, is yodelling your name!
The Swiss take Christmas very seriously – in a fun way of course! – and there’s no better place where you can literally taste the Swiss festive spirit than at one of the many Christmas markets that take over most major cities from late November onwards.
Just imagine taking to the slopes during the day at one of the nearby mountains, easily accessible using a Swiss Travel Pass from the major cities, and then spending the evenings getting jolly with locals and other tourists as you fill your belly and spirits with good old Christmas cheer?!
To help you get inspired about visiting Switzerland during winter and experiencing some of the Christmas magic for yourself, here are five Swiss Christmas markets that will make you feel as if you’re stepped into a fairy tale.
1. Basel – the biggest
Basel, the cultural capital of Switzerland on the banks of the Rhine, has a reputation for putting on the largest Christmas market in the country, with over 180 traders and artisans helping visitors get well into the festive sprit – think mulled wine, waffles, gingerbread, delicious Swiss raclette and grilled sausages. Mmm!
If what goes into your belly isn’t enough to put you in the mood, then the festively adorned houses and monuments of the Old Town, plus a magnificently decorated Christmas tree which acts as the centre piece of the market grounds (located on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz, right in the centre of the city), certainly will.
The Christmas market in Basel officially runs from 24 November to 23 December 2016.
2. Zurich – the brightest
Imagine being serenaded by the sound of Christmas carols as the sweet smells of cinnamon and mulled wine wafts through the air inside the historic main hall of Zurich’s main station.
As you amble through the cozy quarters, over 150 stalls, selling everything from toys to artisan crafts to food (oh the food – waffles, sausages, cheese, oh my!) stimulate all the senses, making you feel like a kid again. And then, to top it off, a giant 50-foot tall Christmas tree decorated with 7,000 Swarovksi crystals sparkles against the fluorescent glow of fairy lights.
Running from 25 November to 24 December 2016, the Christmas market at Zurich’s main train station is one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. If this spectacle isn’t enough to get you excited about Christmas, then we don’t know what else will…
3. Lucerne – the coziest
Taking place every year at Franziskanerplatz, located in the heart of the Old Town, around 70 artisans and traders colonise the central square in Lucerne with their little timber houses with the sole intention of getting the city into the festive spirit.
With rides for the kids, mulled wine for the adults, and delicious waffles, sausages and sweets for all, locals and tourists alike come together and soak up the ambience for the Lucerne Christmas market every year from 3 to 21 December 2016 – all in the name of the that jolly fat man with a beard!
Warning: the mood here is contagious, and you’ll definitely find yourself lingering around longer than you originally intended.
4. Montreux – the prettiest
True, Basel and Zurich may have the largest Christmas markets in Switzerland, but the one at Montreux is definitely the most beautiful.
Smeared along the shores of Lake Geneva, the setting of the Montreux Christmas market could not – I repeat, could not – be any more stunning. Each year, 150 decorated and illuminated chalets trading in culinary specialties and gifts pop up along the quays of the lake, attracting on average around half a million visitors from Switzerland and around the world who come here for an almost fantastical Christmas-y experience.
Sweet Christmas carols, plenty of entertainment (such as workshops, a BIG ferris wheel, and a Christmas contest), and enough activities for the kids (for example, they can visit Santa at his house at the nearby Rochers-de-Naye), keep the mood at a ten throughout Montreux’s Christmas market season, which runs from 24 November to 24 December 2016.
5. Einsiedeln – the charmer
Celebrated in the shadows of the charming Benedictine monastery in Abbey Square and along the town’s main street, the Einsiedeln Christmas market brings together over 130 merchants trading everything from locally made handicrafts to gingerbread and mulled wine.
A brightly lit Christmas tree, along with the illuminated market stalls decorated in festive cheer, throw a warm orange glow over the entire square, creating the kind of ambience you can only associate with Christmas!
Whilst in town for the Christmas market, don’t forget to visit the world’s largest Christmas crib in the Diorama Bethlehem, and make sure you visit the gingerbread bakery museum at the “Goldpafel.”
The Einsiedeln Christmas market runs from 26 November to 4 December, 2016.
To learn more about Switzerland, visit www.myswitzerland.com
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