All too soon the days have started drawing in, leaves are falling and the air carries a chilly hint of the months to come, but even as winter approaches there are plenty of great activities to be enjoyed together as a family.
Here’s our events listings for the month of November and December 2018, remember to keep checking these listings regularly as we will be updating this post with more events each week.
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).
PATINOIRES IN CANTON VAUD
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 2018: 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).
WAITING FOR CHRISTMAS
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.
The House of Santa Claus at Rochers-de-Naye nestled at an altitude of 2042 metres above Montreux (VD) will open on the 22nd of November 2018. 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.
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.
NOVEMBER 2018 LISTINGS:
- Wednesday 21st November 2018: Les mercredis à la Villa Freundler, free Wednesday activities for children at the Villa Freundler in Plainpalais (Place de Saint-François 4). Activities include games, creative workshops, sports and they will run from 1.30pm to 6pm. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking necessary, children must be accompanied by an adult/carer.
- Wednesday 21st & 28th November 2018: Jours d’ouverture aux familles at the Maison de la Créativité in Conches (7, chemin Calandrini). These family activities will take place in the afternoon from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.
- 21st November-31st December 2018: 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 2018. You’ll definitely be able to see Lausanne under a different light!
- 21st November-31st December 2018: “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.
- 22nd November-24th December 2018: 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!
- 23rd November 2018 until 7th January 2019: 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.
- Saturday 24th November 2018: Jours d’ouverture aux familles at the Maison de la Créativité in Conches (7, chemin Calandrini). These family activities will take place in the morning from 9.30am until midday and in the afternoon from 2.30pm to 5pm. Entry is 3CHF per adult and per child aged 2+.
- 24th November 2018 until 6th January 2019: 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.
- Wednesday 28th November 2018: “Lumière”, 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.
- Wednesday 28th November 2018: Jours d’ouverture aux familles at the Maison de la Créativité in Conches (7, chemin Calandrini). These family activities will take place in the afternoon from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.
- 29th November 2018-13th January 2019: Geneva Lux, festival de lumières at Pont de la Machine and various location across town. A staggering half-million LED lights and over 14km of Christmas light garlands will light up the city of Calvin during the festive season. The installations will be in place until the middle of January 2019. FREE ENTRY.
- 30th November-2nd December 2018: 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 workshops for kids, storytimes and much more. 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.
DECEMBER 2018 LISTINGS:
- Saturday 1st December 2018: La Boum des Enfants : Spéciale Fluo Party at Jayland indoor playcentre in Gland. A fun disco party for kids, starting at 6pm until 11pm.
- 1st-2nd December 2018: 41st 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.
- Sunday 2nd December 2018: Free entry to all museums and exhibitions in Geneva, a special initiative organized by the city of Geneva offering free access to permanent and temporary exhibitions on the first Sunday of every month.
- Sunday 2nd December 2018: “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 everz 30 minutes from 3pm to 5pm. FREE ENTRY, no advance booking required but places are limited. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
- Sunday 2nd December 2018: “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.
- Wednesday 5th December 2018: Open Day at La Côte International School in Aubonne (VD) from 10.30am to 12pm. International (MYP, IGCSE, IB) and Swiss curriculum for ages 2 to 18, with an exceptional Performing Arts department and global collaborations with Juilliard, MIT and UNICEF. Register online here.
- Wednesday 5th, 12th & 19th December 2018: Jours d’ouverture aux familles at the Maison de la Créativité in Conches (7, chemin Calandrini). These family activities will take place in the afternoon from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.
- 6th-19th December 2018: “Lancy en lumières”, lights festival in Lancy. The light parade will take place on the 6th of December at 6pm from the Place des Ormeaux. Lights installations will be showcased for the duration of the festival at the Eglise du Christ-Roi, the Salle communale du Petit-Lancy and the Skateplaza. FREE ENTRY.
- Friday 7th December 2018: “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.
- 7th-9th December 2018: 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 7th to the 9th of December (open from 10am until 5pm), free live concerts and much more. See the official website for full details.
- 7th-9th December 2018: 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.
- 7th-24th December 2018: 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.
- until 8th December 2018: The UN building in Geneva will be open to walk-in visitors on Saturdays until the 8th of December 2018. Join one of their guided tours at 10.30am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. Walk-in visitors are welcome at 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm, but please arrive early to secure a place. Tickets are 12CHF and 7CHF for children aged 6 to 18. The Visitors’ Service will be closed exceptionally on:
Monday 22 October 2018 (closed to walk-in visitors and groups)
Tuesday 23 October 2018 (closed to walk-in visitors only)
Tuesday 20 November 2018 (closed to walk-in visitors and groups)
- Wednesday 12th & 19th December 2018: Jours d’ouverture aux familles at the Maison de la Créativité in Conches (7, chemin Calandrini). These family activities will take place in the afternoon from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.
- 14th December 2018-6th January 2019: 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 15th December 2018: Un Million d’étoiles 2018 in Place du Molard in Geneva from 4.30pm to 6.30pm. Millions of candles will be lit in support of Caritas. Please join if you can!
- Saturday 15th December 2018: 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.
- Sunday 16th December 2018: 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.
- Sunday 16th December 2018: LES PUCES DE NOËL in Nyon (VD). 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 Sunday 16th December 2018: Winter Wonderland at Schilliger Gland. Open every Sunday until the 16th of December, Schilliger’s traditional wonderland does not disappoint this year!
- Wednesday 19th December 2018: Jours d’ouverture aux familles at the Maison de la Créativité in Conches (7, chemin Calandrini). These family activities will take place in the afternoon from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.
- Saturday 22nd December 2018: Spectacle de Noël enfant at the Auberge communale Le Motty in Écublens, Vaud (pl. du Motty 6). The show starts at 10am and finishes at 10.40am, suitable from ages 3 to 8.
- until 24th December 2018: 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.
- until 6th January 2019: due to its outstanding success and by popular demand, the exhibition “Fourmis la grande exposition” at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Genève (1, route de Malagnou) has been extended until the 6th of January 2019! Discover the fascinating, unknown universe of these tiny insects. FREE ENTRY only on the first Sunday of every month.
- until 6th January 2019: “The Art of the Brick” at Geneva Palexpo. A unique exhibition that will impress all those who have played LEGO® at least once in their lifetime. Let yourself be amazed by Nathan Sawaya’s impressive sculptures, such as this T-Rex skeleton of more than 80,000 bricks. The artist explores all the possibilities: poetic installations, tribute to the collections of the great museums, imaginary worlds.
- until 15th September 2019: “Roulez les mécaniques. La loi du moindre effort” at the Musée d’histoire des sciences in Geneva. A fun, hands-on exhibition for the whole family, with plenty of machine based on the “Law of the Least Effort” to play and experiment with.
- 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.