What’s On in December 2017

The countdown to Christmas has begun and we have a fab list of events coming up in the area during the festive season: from ice-skating to fabulous Xmas markets, this is wonderful time of year in French-speaking Switzerland.

Remember to keep checking these listings regularly as we will be updating this post with more events each week!

 

KEEP ACTIVE THIS DECEMBER:

  • 1st-2nd December 2017: 40th edition of the Course de l’Escalade in Geneva. The Christmas spirit is spreading fast in Switzerland and winter sports are a huge part of it. Notwithstanding the very cold weather, one of Geneva’s most famous winter sporting events is the Course de l’Escalade, taking place in the city’s old town. This race is open to everyone: professional runners to beginners, children and adults alike. Distances vary between 2km to 8km depending on the category and consist of 1, 2 or 3 laps. All races take place in the narrow streets of the old town and finish at the Parc de Bastion. The non-competitive Marmite Race is the highlight of the event. All those who take part run the 3,4 km together, dressed-up in a fancy costume and they definitely try to outdo each other with their fun, original choices! This is a fun day-out for the whole family, so be there if you can. You can find out more about the history of the Escalade Race in our previous post.

© 2017 Course de l’Escalade, Geneva

 

  • Saturday 9th December 2017: Christmas Midnight Run in Lausanne (Place de la Riponne). Join this midnight race & dress up as Father Xmas if you wish, you can run alone, with friends, colleagues or as a family. From 6pm, visit the official website for full programme details.

© Christmas Midnight Run Lausanne

 

  • Sunday 17th December 2017: Coupe de Noël at the Jardin Anglais in Geneva. This is a unique and long-standing sport’s event in the city of international peace, now in its 79th edition. Watch as hundreds of people jump into the freezing lake for the world’s biggest swimming race in open waters. Participants include the so-called “groupes humouristiques” who participate wearing weird & wonderful costumes (including Santa hats!). Click here for the full programme. The first group will jump into the lake at 9am, Santa will arrive at around 10am with plenty of gifts for the little ones.

Coupe de Noël. Copyright © Genève Tourisme

 

MEET SANTA:

France: Whether you believe it or not, you CAN visit Santa’s house at the Hameau du Père Noël in Andilly (France) all year round (a secret probably worth keeping from the little buttons…). You can find out more about our visit to Santa’s house in Andilly in our previous post. For exact opening times and ticket prices, take a look at their official website.

photo © Hameau du Père Noël

 

Switzerland: The House of Santa Claus at Rochers-de-Naye nestled at an altitude of 2042 metres above Montreux (VD) will open on the 23rd of November 2017. Don’t miss the Santa Claus train, face-painting sessions, stories, photos with Santa and much more!

Having been to both Santa’s abode in Andilly (FR) and Rochers de Naye (CH), we personally think that Andilly is better for younger children: it’s easily accessible and there’s a lot more to see inside Santa’s house. Rochers-de-Naye is probably best enjoyed with older children, who can be patient and sit still during the train ride up as well as appreciate the stunning mountain-top view over Montreux.

However, we’re very happy to share a great tip from Masha Bobyleva who recommends to drive up to the Christmas Village and take the train up to Santa’s House from there. The train ride from the Christmas Village is only 5 minutes and much easier to enjoy with young children than the longer ride from Montreux.

La véritable Maison du Père Noël, Rochers-de-Naye (VD). Photo © Montreux Noël

 

SKIING & SLEDGING:

This is also the season to enjoy some great skiing & sledging with your little buttons, see our previous post for some advice on ski-schools for kids and great winter sledging spots.

Photo © genevafamilydiaries.net

 

PATINOIRES

Christmas is not far off and if you’d like to delve deep into the winter spirit, you can grab your ice-skates and join the fun at the ice-skating rinks that are already open for the season, including the patinoire des Vernets and the patinoire des Charmilles in Geneva; the patinoire des Bastions in Geneva (opening on the 18th of November 2017); the patinoire de Carouge (opening on the 19th of November 2017); the Patinoire de Montchoisi and the Patinoire de la Pontaise in Lausanne and the patinoire du Flon in Lausanne (opening on the 5th of November 2017).

The patinoire in Grand-Sacconex will offer free “Cours d’initiation au patinage” open to all every Wednesday from 1pm to 2pm and every Sunday from 11am until midday . Bookings to be made in advance at the ice-rink – tel. 079 079 958 84 48. Patinoire Grand-Sacconex – Campagne du Château – 1218 Le Grand-Saconnex (GE).

Patinoire de Carouge © Ville de Carouge

 

PATINOIRES IN CANTON VAUD & NEARBY FRANCE

There are some great ice-skating rinks in Canton Vaud as well (our family’s favourite is La Patinoire de Terre Sainte in Coppet with its dazzling views over the château), so if you’d like to have a go you can find the complete list here.

  • Open until March 2017: the Patinoires in Lausanne include the Patinoire de Montchoisi, the Patinoire de Malley, Flon Patinoire and the Patinoire de la Pontaise. See the official Lausanne website for more details.
  • The patinoire de Nyon-Rive reopened for the winter season at the end of October. This year, the ice rink will be open 7 days a week! Click here for exact opening times. ENTRY IS FREE, ice skates for children can be hired for just 3CHF (5CHF for adults).
  • For those of you in and around Divonne-les-Bains (France), the Central Park café has opened a small ice-skating rink for the winter season! You need to hire special skates for 5 euros per child/person. To top it all off, the café will be serving fondues and raclettes, perfect in the run up to Xmas. The Central Park café is right next to a fantastic playground, find out more about it in our previous post.

    © 2016 Patinoire de Nyon (VD)

 

Coppet ice-rink. Photo © genevafamilydiaries.net

 

SUNDAY BRUNCH & INDOOR PLAY CENTRES

You can also check our previous posts to find all the best child-friendly places to enjoy a delicious and stress-free Sunday brunch with your little buttons or the best indoor play centres in Geneva, Vaud and nearby France. And if the Sunday blues hit you don’t fret, we’ve got some great tips for that too!

© 2016 Jayland

 

TOY & BOOK LIBRARIES

On those gray, drizzly winter days when nothing seems to placate your little buttons, remember you can visit your local ludothèque for a spot of free play and some light relief.

Public libraries are also a great place for your children: many host free events, workshops, story-times (usually in French but sometimes in other languages too). The bibliothèques in Geneva, Lausanne and neighbouring communes hold too many kids events each month to list them all here so here’s some links you can check regularly:

Geneva public libraries events & activities

Carouge public libraries events & activities

Lausanne public libraries events & activities

Ludothèque des Pâquis © Ville de Genève

 

DECEMBER 2017 LISTINGS:

  • 29th November-3rd December 2017: Marché de Noël au Château de Coppet et au Bourg. One of the most elegant and charming Xmas markets in the area, taking place in the beautiful setting of Coppet Castle’s gardens and interior rooms. From handmade, unique gifts to exclusive wines and foodie treats, you’ll find something to please everyone. But even if shopping isn’t your thing, it’s still worth a visit as there will be “Atelier de biscuits de Noël” workshops for kids; “Atelier de Décoration de Pain d’Épice”; arts & crafts workshops in the Mongolian yourte tent, story times and face-painting. Last but by no means least, your little ones can have a close encounter with Santa himself inside the Cabane du Père Nöel on Wednesday; Saturday and Sunday. Take a look at their full programme online for full details and opening times. Get ready to celebrate in style – this is the place to go for unique gifts and stocking-fillers and the best setting to soak up all the festive magic you crave.

© Marché de Noël au Château de Coppet

 

  • Thursday 30th November-17th December 2017: “Lancy en lumières”, lights festival in Lancy. The light parade will take place on the 30th of November at 6.30pm from the Lancy Xmas Market. Lights installations will be showcased for the duration of the festival at the Eglise Notre-Dame des Grâces, the Mairie in Lancy and the Parc Bernasconi. FREE ENTRY.

© 2017 Ville de Lancy

 

  • Friday 1st December 2017: “La Parade du Père Fouettard et de la Chauchevieille” from 5.30pm until 9pm at the Parc Gourgas in Geneva. As the old legend tells us, the Père Fouettard (which translates as “Father Whipper”) is the fearsome character who accompanies St. Nicholas in his rounds on the 6th of December. While St. Nicholas is well-known for bringing gifts and sweets to all well-behaved kids, Père Fouettard brings lumps of coal for those who have been naughty. Every year, the Maison du quartier de la Jonction in Geneva keeps the tradition alive with the “Parade du Père Fouettard et de la Chauchevieille”, a great family event to counterbalance the upcoming Xmas madness with a bit of….dark humour! The kids parade will start at 5.30pm from the Parc Gourgas, through the Jonction neighbourhood and back at the Parc Gourgas around 6.30pm for the final bonfire where Père Fouettard and his scary sidekick “la Chauchevieille” will have their heads burned at the stake. The parade is great fun, with live music and orchestra, circus artists, vin chaud, risotto, tangerines and the frightful Père Fouettard, of course! FREE ENTRY.

© Maison du quartier de la Jonction (MQJ)

 

  • 1st-3rd December 2017: Marché de Noël, yodel, concerts et glisse at the Ariana Museum in Geneva. A Xmas market with an Helvetic twist at one of Geneva’s most important museums. The Alpine village will include curling games and a sledging run, alongside the traditional Xmas market there will be a rock’n’yodel concert and ydelling workshops. Find the full programme here. FREE ENTRY.

The Ariana museum’s central hall © Musée Ariana

 

  • 1st December 2017-14th January 2018: Geneva Lux, festival de lumières at the Île Jean-Jacques-Rousseau in Geneva. A staggering half-million LED lights and over 14km of Christmas light garlands will light up the city of Calvin during the festive season. This year, there will be 22 new light installations on top of the 11 we saw last year! The installations will be in place until the middle of January 2018. FREE ENTRY.

© 2017 Ville de Genève

 

 

  • Sunday 3rd December 2017: “Le baby Bazar – Grand Bazar” free music workshop for babies and toddlers aged newborn to 2 at Geneva’s MEG museum (in French). The workshop run by Espace Musical will take place from 2pm to 4.30pm to 4.45pm, with a short pause from 3pm to 3.30pm. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required but places are limited. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

© MEG / B. Glauser

 

  • Sunday 3rd December 2017: “Cap sur l’Afrique avec Tohu Wa Bohu” story-time songs and music for children at Geneva’s MEG museum (in French). Suitable for toddlers from age 2, the first session will take place from 3pm to 3.45pm in the museum’s foyer, and the second one from 4pm until 4.45pm. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Photo: MEG, J.Watts

 

  • Sunday 3rd December 2017: Fête de Noël in Rolle from 11am until 5pm on the Grand’rue. Fun family activities, festive workshops & Santa will be there too.

© 2017 Ville de Rolle

 

  • Sunday 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th December 2017: Noël de Carouge, a wonderful series of Yuletide celebration in the pretty town of Carouge including Sunday openings for local boutiques, Xmas market from the 9th to the 11th of December (open from 10am until 5pm), free live concerts and much more. See the official website for full details.

 

  • Wednesday 6th December 2017: “Par une nuit ien froide et sombre”, part of the Mercredis Family  family workshops at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva (Rue Charles-Galland 2). Children aged 6 to 10 accompanied by an adult are welcome at 3pm to discover all about the museum collections in a fun, interactive way. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required.

© Musées d’art et d’histoire, Geneva

 

  • 7th-10th & 14th-17th December 2017: Marché de Noël au Château de Morges. A traditional Xmas market in the beautiful setting of Morges castle. FREE ENTRY, open from 4pm to 9pm on Thursday and Friday; from 11am to 9pm on Saturday and from 11am to 7pm on Sunday.

© Morges Tourisme

 

  • Friday 8th December 2017: “Disco pour enfants”, fun family event at the patinoire de Carouge from 6pm to 8pm. Suitable for ages 8+, FREE ENTRY.

© 2017 Ville de Carouge

 

  • Friday 8th December 2017: LCIS Winter Fair  at La Côte International School in Aubonne (VD). This great evening of winter celebrations will include a festive artisan market selling unique gifts from local and international vendors, live jazz music and fundraising stalls run by students, who will be raising funds for their 2018 Tanzania expedition. Parents will be able to browse the artisan market stalls, while younger children will be looked after in the school auditorium with face-painting, balloon sculptures and a bit of winter magic! FREE ENTRY. Please note that there is a limited number of parking spaces available on school premises. Additional parking spaces can be found on chemin de la Vaux (near the cemetery), along both sides of the route de l’Etraz and along the Avenue du Chêne and Chemin Neuf in Aubonne village.

© 2017 LCIS PA

 

  • 8th-10th December 2017: The Escalade in Geneva is the city’s most famous historical festival. These historical celebrations will see Geneva’s old town take a step back in time to celebrate the Duke of Savoy’s failed attempt to conquer the city in 1602. The re-enactments and procession in the old town are organised by the Compagnie de 1602, so check out their website for details of all the events in order to ensure you won’t miss out on anything. From markets to storytelling, special torch-lit guided tours to hot soup and mulled wine this is truly one of Geneva’s most glorious events. Remember as well that only on this occasion you are allowed to visit the Passage de Monetier, which takes visitors along the base of the old fortification walls under the Cathedral, so definitely one more reason to delve deep into Geneva’s ancient history. Click here to download the full programme in English, and here to learn more about the true story of L’Escalade.

Geneva’s Escalade. Image courtesy of MySwitzerland.com

 

  • 8th-24th December 2017: Bonjour l’Hiver, a winter & Xmas celebration the whole family will enjoy. Don’t miss the Xmas market, the Street Arts festival & the Xmas village in Annemasse old town (France). FREE ENTRY, see the official website for full programme details.

© 2017 Ville d’Annemasse (France)

 

  • Wednesday 13th December 2017: “LES TÊTES INTELLIGENTES SE PROTÈGENT: HISTOIRE DE CASQUES”, part of the Mercredis Family  family workshops at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva (Rue Charles-Galland 2). Children aged 6 to 10 accompanied by an adult are welcome at 3pm to discover all about the museum collections in a fun, interactive way. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required.

© Musées d’art et d’histoire, Geneva

 

  • until 13th December 2017: Pluie de Poésie/Raining Poetry, a wonderful initiative taking place in Geneva until the 13th of December. Pluie de Poésie or 8 poems found in key parts of the city that appear when the pavement gets wet (by rainwater or water poured on it). Raining Poetry aims to create awareness about water resources and seasonal scarcity of rainwater, with all its implications.

© 2017 PluiedePoésie/RainingPoetry

 

  • 7th-10th & 14th-17th December 2017: Marché de Noël au Château de Morges. A traditional Xmas market in the beautiful setting of Morges castle. FREE ENTRY, open from 4pm to 9pm on Thursday and Friday; from 11am to 9pm on Saturday and from 11am to 7pm on Sunday.

© Morges Tourisme

 

  • Friday 15th December 2017: “L’ÉTOILE DE NOËL” Le MAH à tout petits pas – Mercredi Family pour les tout-petits free guided tours for children aged 3 to 5 accompanied by an adult at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva starting at 10.30am. No previous booking required, FREE OF CHARGE.

 

  • 15th-23rd December 2017: Marché de Noël – Place Bel-Air in Nyon (VD). There will be 11 wooden chalets selling local handicrafts and fun activities for kids during the late night shopping evenings.

 

  • 15th December 2017-7th January 2018: Le fabuleux village des Flottins in Evian (France) is a one-of-a-kind alternative to the seasonal Xmas markets. This magical, mysterious village filled with street entertainers, music, exhibitions and art installations will keep the whole family enthralled – you will also be able to do your Xmas shopping done, as local shops will remain open until 8pm in the evenings. Entry to the event is free, visit the official website for full programme details.

 

  • Saturday 16th December 2017: “Silent disco on ice” at the patinoire in Nyon, from 6.30pm until 11pm. FREE ENTRY, ice-skates can be hired for a nominal price.

© 2017 Ville de Nyon

 

  • Sunday 17th December 2017: Coupe de Noël at the Jardin Anglais in Geneva. This is a unique and long-standing sport’s event in the city of international peace, now in its 79th edition. Watch as hundreds of people jump into the freezing lake for the world’s biggest swimming race in open waters.

Coupe de Noël. Copyright © Genève Tourisme

 

  • Sunday 17th December 2017: Les Puces de Noël, a lovely Xmas and antiques market all rolled into one, taking place in the Rive neighbourhood and lakefront in the pretty town of Nyon. Open from 8am until 6.30pm, don’t miss Santa’s visit at 3pm! FREE ENTRY.

 

  • until 17th December 2017: Winter Wonderland at Schilliger Gland. Open every Sunday until the 17th of December, Schilliger’s traditional wonderland does not disappoint this year! Click here to find out more.

Winter Wonderland, Schilliger Gland Photo ©2017 genevafamilydiaries.net

 

  • Wednesday 20th December 2017: “L’ÉTOILE DE NOËL” Le MAH à tout petits pas – Mercredi Family pour les tout-petits free guided tours for children aged 3 to 5 accompanied by an adult at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva starting at 10.30am and 3.30pm. No previous booking required, FREE OF CHARGE.

 

  • until 23rd December 2017: Know-it-all Marketplace pop-up shop in Planète Charmilles in Geneva (11, promènade de l’Europe). More than 50 local creators personally handpicked by Lisa Cirieco, this is a great place to find unique presents for friends, family, children and babies! Follow their facebook page for more details.

© 2017 Know-it-all marketplace

 

  • until 24th December 2017: Montreux Noël, an unmissable event if you’d like to kick off the festive season in style: from the shores of Lake Geneva to the surrounding mountain tops, Montreux Noël offers many activities centred around its traditional Christmas Market. You can visit Santa, who comes directly from faraway Lapland to his house at the Rochers de Naye; discover an authentic Christmas Village in Caux or stroll through a medieval market and attend a story festival within the walls of the legendary Château de Chillon. Visit the official website for exact opening times and take a look at our previous post to find out how much we enjoyed our visit last year! Santa’s flying sledge will also be back this year at the Christmas Market in Montreux! The sledge is pulled by a cable and it’s really quite a sight for children and adults alike. If you have friends coming over to visit during the Xmas holidays they will LOVE it! The flying Santa can be seen every day over the Montreux Xmas market at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm.

© 2017 Montreux Noël

 

Flying Santa! © 2014 Montreux Noël

 

  • until 31st of December 2017: BÔ NOËL 2017 – Lausanne. This year, the Xmas celebrations in Lausanne are set to be a superb combination of Xmas markets to suit all tastes and styles (traditional, design, family etc.), ice-skating rink, village des enfants and the third edition of the Festival Lausanne Lumières, which ends on the 31st of December 2017. You’ll definitely be able to see Lausanne under a different light!

© 2017 Bô Noël

 

  • until 31st December 2017: “Festival Lausanne Lumières”, with no less than 15 original artistic illuminations installed in the heart of Lausanne. Each one of them will be using light as main element to give the city a contemporary, innovative and enchanting atmosphere during six weeks. The «Nuit du Festival» on the 20th of November 2015 will inaugurate the festival with guided tours specially dedicated to families (only in French). Each child will receive a Chinese lantern to travel along the festivals route.

© 2017 Festival Lausanne Lumières

 

 

ONGOING:

  • until 7th January 2018: Cirque de Noël at the Plaine de Plainpalais in Geneva. A great family show, suitable from age 2. Visit the official website for prices & to book your tickets.

© Cirque de Noël, Geneva

 

  • until 7th January 2018: “Fourmis la grande exposition”, temporary exhibition at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Genève (1, route de Malagnou). Discover the fascinating, unknown universe of these tiny insects.. FREE ENTRY only on the first Sunday of every month.

Copyright © Ville de Genève 2017

 

  • until 7th January 2018: Body Worlds – L’Exposition at Geneva Palexpo.  fantastic exhibition about the mysteries of the human body and human anatomy: the cycle of life, from bith to death, will be represented with a series of amazing anatomical studies of the human body. Open from 10am until 7pm, closed on Mondays.

© copyright 2015 Opus One

 

  • until 7th January 2018: Noël des Alpes in Annecy (France). Check out the official website of this beautiful French town for more details on all their Xmas activities, gourmet & crafts markets, ice-skating rink, fête foraine and amazing Xmas lights.

© 2017 Ville d’Annecy

 

  • until 3rd June 2018: “Ça coule de source“. A great exhibition of an hydraulic structure’s construction site, inspired by the recent discovery made by archaeologists around the site of the ancient roman Aqueduct of Nyon. This exhibition will also show how the Romans managed and consumed their water sources. Pipes, taps, fountain plates, gargoyles, hydraulic facilities, coins and spillways illustrate the water’s course from the source, through its transmission across town, its distribution, use and disposal.

© 2017 Musée romain de Nyon

 

  • The permanent exhibition “Noblesse Oblige” at Prangins Castle is a great day-out for the whole family, take a step back in time with your children to see how a noble Swiss family lived in the 18th century! Find out more about this fantastic family exhibition in our previous post.

“En visite chez le Baron” © Château de Prangins

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