With snow-capped mountains, world-renowned Xmas markets and cozy wooden chalets so close to home, Switzerland is one of the best places in the world to enjoy the festive season.
If you’re lucky enough to be spending Xmas here, take a look at our festive listings for the coming weeks and remember to check for all last minute events and New Year’s celebrations that will be added to the list very soon!
FAMILY TIP: Your little ones can have their picture taken with Santa, free of charge, at La Praille shopping centre in Carouge (on the first floor) on the following dates:
• Wednesday 17th December from 11am until 7pm.
• Saturday 20th December from 10am until 6pm.
• Monday 22nd December from 11am until 7pm.
• Tuesday 23rd December from 11am until 7pm.
• Wednesday 24 December from 10am until 4pm.
Père Noël will also be at Balexert shopping centre on the 6th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December!
Until the 24th of December there will be many Xmas activities at the Meyrin shopping centre (Avenue de Feuillasse 24, Meyrin), including glass blowing workshops for kids, Mère Noël’s very own patisserie, Father Xmas’ stables and free photos for kids with the white bearded man himself, of course!
Vitam in Neydens (France) is lending busy parents a helping hand this Xmas with some special supervised activities for children while you get all your Xmas shopping done! On the following dates & times you will be able to leave your little Xmas elves with trained Vitam staff who will look after them in the Grands jeux area, play board games with them or involve them in a fun creative workshop.
Suitable from age 4, the price is 12 € per child. Places must be booked online in advance here.
• Wednesday 3rd, 10th & 17th of December 2014 from 10am to midday.
• Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th December: 10h-12h
• Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th December: 10h-12h
• Saturday 20th & Sunday 21th December: 10h-12h / 14h-16h
Your little elves can also have their photo taken with Santa at Vitam on the 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st of December from 1.30pm until 6.30pm.
For any last minute shopping, Val Thoiry shopping centre in France will be open on the following Sundays: 7th, 14th and 21st of December 2014. Apparently there will be a Xmas market too, an ice-rink, a sledging area…and the opportunity to take your photo with Santa!
- 22nd November – 24th December 2014: Marché de Noël at various locations around Geneva, starting with Rue du Mont-Blanc; Quai du Général-Guisan and Place de la Fusterie.
- 22nd November 2014 until 4th January 2015: 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.
- 28th November 2014-11th January 2015: Geneva Lux Festival 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 around Rue du Rhône, Place Longemalle, Bel-Air ainsi and l’Ile Rousseau. A truly unmissable sight!
- 28th November 2014 until 4th January 2015: 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 and amazing Xmas lights!
- 30th November, 7th-21st December 2014: 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 12th to the 14th of December, free live concerts and much more. See the official website for full details.
- Tuesday 2nd-Friday 19th December 2014: Calendrier de l’Avent, free Xmas activities for little ones in Carouge at the Bibliothèque de Carouge (Boulevard des Promenades 2bis) and BiblioQuartier des Grands-Hutins (Rue de la Tambourine 3 – rez-de-chaussée). There will be free story-times suitable from age 3 at 5pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as baby story times on Thursdays at 5pm for the tinies.
- Tuesday 2nd-Wednesday 24th December 2014: Une histoire pour attendre Noël, Xmas story times in French suitable from age 4 at the Pâquis public library in Geneva (Rue du Môle 17), starting at 5pm every day from Tuesday to Friday. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required.
- Tuesday 2nd-Wednesday 24th December 2014: En Avent toute, destination Noël !, Xmas story times in French suitable from age 4 at the Saint-Jean public library in Geneva (Avenue des Tilleuls 19). Story times begin at 5pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday; and at 3pm on Wednesdays. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required.
- Wednesday 3rd December 2014: Sacré Père Noël, fun and entertaining Xmas stories in French suitable from age 5 with Caroline Langendorf at the Bibliothèque Minoteries in Geneva (Parc des Minoteries 3-5). FREE ENTRY, story time begins at 4pm.
- 3rd-7th December 2014: Marché de Noël au Château de Coppet, one of the most elegant, exquisite 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 many workshops for kids, including Atelier de biscuits de Noël, Atelier de Décoration de Pain d’Épice, Atelier de décoration de Cupcakes not to mention the fire juggling show “Ya pas l’feu” on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th of December at 6pm and the ice-rink overlooking Coppet Castle.Last but by no means least, your little ones can have a close encounter with Saint Nicolas & le Père Fouettard on Sunday 7th of December from 4pm until 5.30pm, and they won’t be leaving empty handed! Take a look at their full programme online for 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.
- 3rd-24th December 2014: Gex Fête Noël, Xmas celebrations in Gex (France) which will include plenty of fun activities for the little ones such as Xmas story times and workshops, puppet shows, fireworks, and close encounters with real sledge dogs! Download the full programme here. FREE ENTRY to all activities and workshops.
- Friday 5th December 2014: Goûter de la Saint-Nicolas at 4pm, followed by a fun workshop suitable from age 3 at the Bibliothèque de Carouge (Boulevard des Promenades 2bis) and BiblioQuartier des Grands-Hutins (Rue de la Tambourine 3 – rez-de-chaussée). FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required.
- Friday 5th & Sunday 7th of December 2014: Xmas style market & Brunch at the farm organized by Swapandshop.ch, now known as ‘So Many Queens’. The Xmas edition of this style market will sweep you off your feet with some fabulous gifts ideas for women, kids & home as well as a Swap & Shop party of second-hand, good-quality garnements. The market & swap party will run from 7pm until 11pm at the Domaine de Bon-Boccard in St.Prex (VD). Take a look at their official website for more information on how to join the clothes swap party. On Sunday 7th of December, the ‘So Many queens’ Xmas market will get even better with a brunch at the farm from 10am until midday at the Domaine de Bon-Boccard, prices are 18CHf for adults, 10CHF for kids aged 5 to 12 and 5CHF for children aged 2 to 5. Places must be booked in advance at www.swapandshop.ch. The opening times for the Xmas market on Sunday 7th of Dec. will be 10am until 5pm, keep an eye on the So Many Queens facebook page for details of all the sellers that will be present at the market!
- 5th December 2014-4th January 2015: Xmas celebrations at indoor playcentre C L’Aventure in Annemasse (France), with fab Xmas decorations and themed activities to put you in the festive mood! You can read more about C L’Aventure in our previous post.
- Saturday 6th December 2014: Sacré Père Noël, fun and entertaining Xmas stories in French suitable from age 5 with Caroline Langendorf at the Bibliothèque de Pâquis in Geneva (Rue du Môle 17). FREE ENTRY, no advance booking necessary – story time begins at 3pm.
- Saturday 6th December 2014: Marché de Noël at the Panier Gourmand, Domaine d’Avenex in Signy (motorway exit Nyon, VD). From 9am until 5pm there will be local delicacies and produce on sale, as well as hot soup, fondue, raclette, mulled wine, activities for children including cake decorating workshops and a special visit from Saint Nicholas too! FREE ENTRY, call the Heuberger family on 022 362 09 09 for more details.
- Saturday 6th December 2014: Jour de fête et marché des artisans de Noël à Gruyères, a great family day-out in one of Switzerland most picturesque villages, all bedecked and bejewelled for the festive season. From midday until 9pm there will be plenty to do for everyone, with a great Xmas market, kids workshops at 2pm (to be booked in advance at 026 921 21 02); Cortège de la St-Nicolas at 5pm and late opening for all the shops, museums and Château. At 6pm there will also be “Contes tibétains pour petits et grands” with Tenzin W. Drongshar Frapolli at the Tibetan Museum. FREE ENTRY.
- Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th December 2014: Fabrication de cadeaux at the Maison Vaudagne in Meyrin (16 Av. de Vaudagne). From 10am until 5pm you will be able to learn how to make some gorgeous handmade gifts for your loved ones! Children will love taking part in these workshops too, and when you’re feeling a bit peckish….there will be tea, soup and sandwiches for all bricoleurs. Free entry.
- Sunday 7th December 2014: Marché de Noël de Russin (GE). From 10am until 5pm at the Hangar Rothis et Porchet in Russin, with activities for kids, face-painting, donkey rides as well as great handmade gifts and delish delicacies from the area. FREE ENTRY.
- Sunday 7th December 2014: Marché de Noël du quartier de Rive in Nyon (VD). Xmas market, activities and more from 8.30am until 6.30pm in the Rive neighbourhood in Nyon.
- Sunday 7th December 2014: Marché de Noël au Château de Coppet, your little ones can have a close encounter with Saint Nicolas & le Père Fouettard from 4pm until 5.30pm, and they won’t be leaving empty handed!
- Wednesday 10th December 2014: “La légende de l’arbre de Noël”, fun and entertaining Xmas workshop in French suitable from age 6 at the Bibliothèque de Pâquis in Geneva (Rue du Môle 17). FREE ENTRY, no advance booking necessary – workshop begins at 3pm.
- Wednesday 10th December 2014: Marché de Noël des enfants at the Parc des Bastions in Geneva. From 2pm to 7pm children from various schools in Geneva will be selling their wares in what is probably the loveliest kids Xmas market in the world! Children are welcome to sell, buy or exchange books, toys and other Xmas treasures, entry is free for all and a snack will be offered to all children at the end of the market.
- Wednesday 10th December 2014: Noël au Château, Xmas story times at 2pm and 3.15pm at Nyon Castle (Place du Château 1260 Nyon) with Claire Parma from “La voix du conte”. Suitable from age 5, FREE ENTRY but it’s advisable to book your place by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- until 10th December 2014: “Le Père Noël n’a pas peur du loup” a Xmas story about a scary wolf and a family on holiday who are determined not to let him spoil their celebrations! The show is brought to the stage in French at the Théâtre Töpffer in Geneva (21, Avenue Eugène Pittard). Performances will take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays at 3.30pm. Tickets are 30CHF for adults and 15CHF for children, make sure get there well in advance to secure some good seats when doors open!
- 10th-14th December 2014: Grand Marché Couvert de Noël in Morges (VD). This is the biggest indoor Christmas market in French-speaking Switzerland and takes place in the great wooden hall next door to the Morges railway station. More than 160 craftsmen & women will showcase their creations, including blown glass, pottery, flower decorations, textile products, wooden objects, ceramics and of course delicacies such as jam or foie gras…Open from 4pm-10pm on weekdays; 10am-8pm on Saturday and 10am-7pm on Sunday. Free entry.
- 10th-14th December 2014: Marché de Noël organized by the Associations Haïti Écoles et les Enfants de Kanji in support of their charities. The Xmas market will take place at the Salle de la Blanchisserie in Divonne-les-Bains, France(Office de Tourisme). You will find nativity sets on sale, Xmas cards and decorations – open from 2pm until 7pm during the week, from 10am until 7pm on Saturday and from 10am until 6pm on Sunday.
- 10th-23rd December 2014: RUSH pop-up store Xmas Market on Rue Henri Blanvalet 6 in Geneva. A delightful little Xmas market with over 20 stalls selling unique gifts including gourmet treats, home decor, jewellery, fashion, kids etc. There will be fun activities, vin chaud, live music and much more! FREE ENTRY.
- 11th-14th December 2014: special Xmas opening at A l’heure Sensation independent boutique in Geneva. The store will be open until 9.30pm on Thursday and until 7.30pm on Friday & Saturday, you will be able to meet the designer and enjoy some mulled wine, Xmas biscuits and other treats!
- 12th-24th December 2014: 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’s old town (France). FREE ENTRY, see the official website for full programme details.
- 12th December 2014 – 4th January 2015: 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. You can find out more about this event in our previous post. Entry to the event is free, visit the official website for full programme details.
- Saturday 13th December 2014: Christmas Family Run in Divonne-les-Bains (France). This is a family relay race to benefit the “Enfance et Cancer” association. Take part in the run or just attend as a spectator: this is going to be a great day-out for the whole family – there will an ice sculptures exhibition, free concerts, hot chocolate, fun activities and much more. The run is open to every family composed of a man, a woman and a child (the young participant must be the child of one the 2 adults). Registration fee is €29 per family at Divonne’s Tourist Office. Visit the official website for more details and to download your registration form.
- Saturday 13th December 2014: “Une nuit d’hiver au Bois Joli”, a delightful Xmas show in French by the Théâtre Minilune suitable from age 3 at the Servette public library in Geneva (Rue Veyrassat 9). The show begins at 3pm, FREE ENTRY no advance booking required.
- Saturday 13th December 2014: 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.
- 13th-23rd December 2014: Le village du Grand Nord, from Saturday 13th of December Saint-Julien-en-Genevois’ town centre in France will celebrate winter and the Great North with plenty of great activities for the whole family including circus shows, close encounters with real sledge dogs and their handlers, live concerts, workshops for kids, Marché de noël des commerçants and much more. The “village du Grand Nord” will be divided into different villages including a Village Apoutsiak with its Mongolian yourtes and the Village Kadluk, where children can discover the Arctic with fun workshops suitable from age 6. FREE ENTRY, follow directions for Avenue de Genève, 74160 Saint-Julien-en-Genevois (FRANCE).
- Sunday 14th December 2014: Coupe de Noël at the Jardin Anglais in Geneva. This is a unique and long-standing sports event in the city of international peace, now in its 76th 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.
- until 14th December 2014: the Xmas displays at Schilliger Gland and their Christmas market bonanza are the stuff of Xmas legends. We can assure you that their displays get more sumptuous and stunning every year so it’s really worth a visit. And for their special Xmas opening times, remember that Schilliger Gland will be open every Sunday from 10am until 6pm up until the 14th of December 2014.
- Wednesday 17th December 2014: “Une nuit d’hiver au Bois Joli”, a delightful Xmas show in French by the Théâtre Minilune suitable from age 3 at the Espace Grosselin in Carouge (Rue Jacques-Grosselin 31 – sous-sol). There will be 2 performances: one at 2.30pm and one at 3.30pm, FREE ENTRY but places must be booked in advance at email@example.com
- Wednesday 17th December 2014: Fête de Noël, Xmas stories, songs and a yummy snack for all children aged 4+ at the Servette public library in Geneva (Rue Veyrassat 9). FREE ENTRY no advance booking necessary, just be there at 2.30pm!
- Wednesday 17th December 2014: Crée ton univers féerique dans une boule de Noël, a fun creative workshop for ages 6+ at the Saint-Jean public library in Geneva (Avenue des Tilleuls 19), starting at 3pm. Children will make their own Xmas bauble to take home, FREE ENTRY but places must be booked in advance at 022 418 92 02.
- Wednesday 17th December 2014: Fête de Noël pour les enfants à la Maison de Quartier, from 3pm until 9pm at the Maison de Quartier d’Aïre-Le Lignon (12bis chemin Nicolas Bogueret, 1219 Aïre). Free and open to everyone, this fun Xmas party will include a magician show at 5pm, Xmas snack for the kids, and many more surprises. FREE ENTRY.
- Friday 19th December 2014: Goûter de Noël at 4pm, followed by a fun workshop suitable from age 3 at the Bibliothèque de Carouge (Boulevard des Promenades 2bis) and BiblioQuartier des Grands-Hutins (Rue de la Tambourine 3 – rez-de-chaussée). FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required.
- Friday 19th December 2014: One for the kiddies, don’t miss the ice-sculpture demonstrations in Morges on Friday 19th of December from 5pm until 10pm on the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.
- Friday 19th & Monday 22nd December 2014: late-night shopping and Xmas activities for the whole family in Nyon (VD). Shops will be open until 10pm on Friday 19th, 7pm on Saturday 20th and 6pm on Sunday 21st. There will be live music, Xmas activities, mulled wine and Xmas tea for all!
- Saturday 20th December 2014: Guirlandes et lumières, creative workshop for ages 6+ at the Servette public library in Geneva (Rue Veyrassat 9). There will be a morning session at 10am and an afternoon one at 2pm where the kids will learn to make their own Xmas decorative lights. FREE ENTRY but places must be booked in advance at 022 418 37 82.
- Saturday 20th December 2014: “Mère Noël, au secours !”, an entertaining story about Father Xmas who is too tired to organize Xmas this year…so Mother Xmas comes to the rescue! The stories are told and performed by Anne-Claude Laurent & François Cerny des Contes Joyeux and are suitable from age 5. FREE ENTRY no advance booking required, story time begins at 3pm.
- 22nd December 2014: Father Xmas will pay a surprise visit to the patinoire des Eaux Minérales in Morges (Avenue Warnery) from 2pm until 6.30pm. Your little buttons will be able to take a photo with him and hand-deliver their Xmas wish list! FREE ENTRY.
- Wednesday 24th December 2014: “Ne mange pas le bébé!”, a free puppet show in French suitable from age 3 at the Espace Fusterie in Geneva (Place de la Fusterie 18) by the Cie Les Théopopettes. The story of baby Jesus’ birth is told through the eyes of Théo & Popette who wonder who that little baby in a manger is… The show will run from 3.30pm until 4.30pm. FREE ENTRY.
- 26th December 2014-4th January 2015: Le Train des Fêtes at the Centre du Vallon in St-Cergue (VD). Are your little ones already bored of being indoors after the big Xmas celebrations? If so, this might be for you: the Passion IIm will install their superb miniature trains at the Centre du Vallon in St-Cergue (VD), just a short walk from the train station. Open everyday from the 26th of December until the 4th of January 2015 from 10am until 6pm, these miniature wonders will make your little ones very happy. FREE ENTRY.
- Santa’s House: 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.
If you’re looking for breathtaking mountain views, then the House of Santa Claus at Rochers-de-Naye, nestled at an altitude of 2042 metres above Montreux (VD), is perfect for you. Don’t miss the Santa Claus train, face-painting sessions, stories, photos with Santa and much more!
Having been to both Santa’s abodes in Andilly (FR) and Rochers de Naye (CH), we personally think that Andilly is better for younger children: it’s more 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.
- until 24th of December 2014: Les Fêtes de Noël – 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.) and the third edition of the Festival Lausanne Lumières, which ends on the 31st of December 2014. You’ll definitely be able to see Lausanne under a different light!
- until 24th December 2014: 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 neighbouring 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!
- For great Xmas decorations and Sunday opening hours, check out Botanic in St-Genis Pouilly (France). You can read all about it in our previous post but rest assured that their village de Noël is particularly well-stocked. Wander around for inspiration or pick up some glam decorations: you will find everything here from beautifully handmade & handpainted Santons de Provence to cool Scandi-style ornaments.
NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS
- 31st December 2014: Fête du nouvel an in Geneva. This year’s celebrations will take place across 3 neighbourhoods: Jonction – Palladium et square attenant (from 6pm until 3am); Sécheron – rue du Valais (from 1.30pm until 3am); Vieusseux – Parc des Franchises (from 3pm until 3am on the 31st of december and from 11am until 2pm on the 1st of January). With spectacular decorations and activities suitable for all ages, you’ll be able to take part in family workshops, sports activities, as well as great live concerts and free discos at all 3 locations. FREE ENTRY, you can download the full programme on .pdf here. And if you still have the energy, don’t miss the brunch-karaoké from 11am until 2pm on the 1st of January 2015!
- 31st December 2014: New Year’s Eve party at the Bains des Pâquis from 9pm, with fireworks displays and all-night disco! FREE ENTRY.
- 31st December 2014: “Le grand bal masqué” at the Usine A Gaz in Nyon (VD). Unfortunately, this event is not suitable for children but if you find a baby-sitter for the night you can welcome the new year in style with this great party, which will run from 10pm until 6am. Tickets are 25CHF per person.
- 1st January 2015: kick off the new year in style with the first Funky Brunch Geneva of 2015! This New Year brunch will take place at the Hotel Warwick in Geneva (Rue de Lausanne 14) from 12.30 until 3pm and will offer live DJ set as well as activities and entertainment for the little ‘uns. Expect nothing less than their now legendary smoked salmon, foie gras, cold buffet and plenty more delicacies. The price is 69CHF for adults, free for children under 6 and a pro-rata age price for ages 6 to 12. Reserve your places now at firstname.lastname@example.org