What’s On in December 2013

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.

 © Ville d'Annecy

© Ville d’Annecy

 

Visit Santa:

  • Don’t forget you can visit Santa’s house in nearby Andilly (France) during the holidays  or enjoy the magnificent celebration of the Noël des Alpes in Annecy. 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! You can read all about Santa’s house in Andilly in our previous post. 
The elves' bedroom at Santa's house in Andilly - photo © genevafamilydiaries.net

The elves’ bedroom at Santa’s house in Andilly – photo © genevafamilydiaries.net

 

  • House of Santa Claus at Rochers-de-Naye at an altitude of 2042 metres above Montreux (VD). Santa’s grotto will welcome little ones & their families between the 22nd of November and 24th of December 2013, don’t miss the Santa Claus train, face-painting sessions, stories, photos with Santa and much more! For their tenth year anniversary they are offering a special entry price of 10CHF per person on Thursdays only.

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.

© Montreux Noël

© Montreux Noël

 

Keep Active This December:

  • 6th-7th December 2013: Geneva’s 36th Course de l’Escalade. The Christmas spirit is spreading fast in Switzerland and winter sports are a huge part of it. Notwithstanding the cold, 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 include 1, 2 or 3 laps. All the 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, read about last year’s Escalade Race in our 2012 post.
© Adrienne Barman

© Adrienne Barman

 

  • Saturday 14th December 2013: 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 be an ice sculpture by artist  Sébastien Cohendet, free concerts, hot chocolate, giant stuffed animals 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.

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  • Saturday 14th December 2013: 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

© Christmas Midnight Run Lausanne

 

  • Sunday 15th December 2013: 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 75th 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 arive at around10pm with plenty of gifts for the little ones.
 © Coupe de Noël, Geneva

© Coupe de Noël, Geneva

 

Silver Skates:

One of the things we love the most about winter in Geneva is the access to some fabulous ice-skating rinks: they’re fun, they’re mostly free of charge and you can often hire skates for as little as 2 CHF. Our little ones love it and last year even Little Miss Cutie wanted to have a go (and she was only a little over 18 months-old !). Here’s a selection of our favourite ones, but remember to check in your area as most villages and communes have their own winter skating-rinks.

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.

© Ville de Genève

© Ville de Genève

 

  • 16th Nov. 2013-23rd February 2014: Patinoire des Bastions, Geneva – open Tuesday to Sunday, entry is free and skates can be hired for 2CHF. Click here for exact opening times.
  • until 23rd March 2014: The Patinoire des Charmilles in Geneva is smaller but it’s great fun for families: on Tuesdays & Saturdays from 1pm to 6pm they hold “Glisse en musique” skate & dance sessions for families that are really good fun! On Fridays from 5pm they offer various surprise activities. Entry is free and skates can be hired for 2CHF. Click here for opening times – the rink is closed on Mondays.
  • 30th November 2013-2nd March 2014: the Patinoire Carouge is at the heart of the city’s Xmas celebrations: the atmosphere is great and you’ll be skating right in the heart of beautiful Carouge. Don’t miss the super-cool “Ice Bar” for a hot drink or a fondue. From this year, renting skates for children up to the age of 6 will be free of charge and only 2CHF for older children and adults.
Patinoire de Carouge © Ville de Carouge

Patinoire de Carouge © Ville de Carouge

 

  • For a glamorous, utterly festive skating experience don’t miss the new Winter Lodge at La Réserve Genève (301, Route de Lausanne – 1293 Bellevue). From 9am to 1am Monday to Saturday & 9am to 7pm on Sunday, skaters are welcome to enjoy Geneva’s largest private skating rink for free (but they must book a skating lesson, or alternatively a table for Sunday Brunch or for an afternoon snack of waffles or crêpes). Skates can also be borrowed free of charge. The setting is truly wonderful, with a snowy forest, ice crystals and glittering chandeliers setting the tone for this winter fairy-tale theme. And if you’re feeling a bit peckish, you can choose from a seafood platter, a traditional Swiss fondue and crêpes of course!
© 2013 La Réserve Genève Hotel & Spa

© 2013 La Réserve Genève Hotel & Spa

 

Ice-skating in style! © 2013 La Réserve Genève Hotel & Spa

Ice-skating in style! © 2013 La Réserve Genève Hotel & Spa

 

  • For more ice-skating rinks in the Geneva region, click here.
  • 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.

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December 2013 Events:

  • 1st December 2013: Petits Rendez-vous  at Geneva’s MAMCO at 11.15am for little ones aged 5 to 10 accompanied by an adult. These fun, interactive visits for kids are free of charge and require no advance booking. Introduce your little ones to the joys of modern art with these great guided tours. There will be other tours on Wednesday 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th of December at 3.15pm.

 

  • 1st December 2013: L’Asticot Xmas Minibazaar at the Café Gallay in Geneva (Boulevard de Saint-Georges 42) from 3pm to 6pm. Don’t miss this great Xmas sale and bag yourself some sterling bargains on old & new collections! You can find out more about Swiss ethical label L’asticot in our previous post.
 © L'Asticot

© L’Asticot

 

  • 1st December 2013: 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. 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. To find out all about it, read the post by our guest blogger Laura Vidale!
Gorgeous Xmas displays - Photo © Yves Perradin

Gorgeous Xmas displays – Photo © Yves Perradin

 

  • 1st December 2013: Le Cadeau de Noël, a perfect theatre show to get us all in the Christmas spirit ! Showtimes are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 3.30pm at the Théâtre Rodolphe Töpffer in Geneva (Avenue Eugène-Pittard 21). Visit the official website for more details and to book your tickets, our advice is to get there a bit earlier to get some good seats when doors open at 3pm.
© 2013 Théâtre Rodolphe Töpffer, Geneva

© 2013 Théâtre Rodolphe Töpffer, Geneva

 

  • 1st-22nd December 2013: NOËL À CAROUGE 2013, a wonderful series of Yuletide celebration in the pretty town of Carouge including Sunday openings for local boutiques, Xmas market from the 13th to the 15th of December, free live concerts and much more. See the official website for full details.

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  • Tuesday 3rd December 2013: “Un beau matin, Aladin”, an enchanting puppetshow from age 6 at the Forum Meyrin at 7pm. Let Sherazade work its magic and transport you into the magic world of Aladdin. Visit the official website to book tickets.
© Forum Meyrin

© Forum Meyrin

 

  • 3rd-18th December 2013: “Vache de Noël!”, storytime in French from age 5 at the Bibliothèque Jeunesse de la Ville de Lausanne (Avenue d’Echallens 2A). Free entry. Visit the official website for exact start times.
© Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne

© Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne

 

  • 3rd-20th December 2013: Une histoire par jour pour attendre Noël… at the Bibliothèque des Pâquis (Rue du Môle 17). Get in the Xmas mood with this series of Xmas tales for children taking place Tuesday to Friday at 5pm. Free entry.
© Bibliothèque des Pâquis

© Bibliothèque des Pâquis

 

© Bibliothèques de Carouge

© Bibliothèques de Carouge

 

  • Wednesday 4th December 2013: “Pierres, cailloux et autres mystères”, free storytime from age 5 at the Palais de Rumine in Lausanne (Place de la Riponne 6). Don’t miss these free storytimes on the first Wednesday of every month, start time at 2.45pm.
©  L'oreille qui parle

© L’oreille qui parle

 

 

  • 4th December 2013: Animation du mercredi  at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Genève (1, route de Malagnou). In connection with the current exhibition “Nos oiseaux”, these free Wednesday workshops will take place  from 2pm to 4.30pm (second floor).

 

  • Wednesday 4th December 2013: Les Mercredis Grenadine 2013 | 2014 : spectacle enfants at Catalyse in Geneva (14 Rosemont, tram 12 – stop Grange-Canal). This week’s show starts at 3pm and is called “Voyage au pays de la différence”, a delightful show from age 3 dealing with our individual differences. Tickets are CHF 10.– for children and CHF 15.– for adults, places must be reserved in advance at 022 700 64 75. The show will be followed by a delicious snack for all little ones, what better way to fend off a cold winter day?
 © Catalyse, Geneva

© Catalyse, Geneva

 

  • Wednesday 4th December 2013: “MONSTRES ET COMPAGNIE…”, part of the Mercredis Family at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva (Rue Charles-Galland 2). Children aged 6 and older accompanied by an adult are welcome every Wednesday at 3pm to discover all about the museum collections in a fun, interactive way. Reserve your places in advance at adp-mah@ville-ge.ch or by phone at 022 418 25 00. On Wednesday afternoons until December 2013 you can also take part in the museum’s “Visites-ateliers: Initiation à l’histoire de l’art” (ages 6-8 and 9-12). This is a cycle of 5 tours unveiling the most fascinating secrets of art history, each visit is followed by a creative workshop. On Wednesdays from 2pm to 6pm, 10CHF each session (places must be booked in advance).
© MAH 2013

© MAH 2013

 

  • 4th-18th December 2013: “Little Black Movie December sessions”, a selection of delightful short cartoons for children at the Cinémas du Grütli in Geneva (16, rue du Général Dufour); the Point Favre in Chêne Bourg (6, avenue F.-A. Grison); Salle Bellavista in Meyrin (39, avenue de Vaudagne); Cinéma-Théâtre de Onex (7, rue des Bossons) and the Maison des Quartiers de Thônex (39, route de Jussy). Let yourself be led on a voyage of discovery from Russia to China via Iran and Latvia, this will be a cinematic & truly magical experience for all ages. See the official website for full programme details.
© Black Movie Festival Geneva

© Black Movie Festival Geneva

 

  • 4th-31st December 2013:“l’Arche part à 8 heures”, a funm surreal show from age 7 at at Le petit théâtre in Lausanne (place de la Cathédrale 12). Three penguins find themselves with only 2 tickets for Noah’s ark as rains starts to fall and flood the world, but they really can’t abandon their friend so they all decide to hide inside a suitcase… See the official website to book your tickets.
© Tous droits réservés - le petit théâtre - 2013-2014 | illustrations Haydé

© Tous droits réservés – le petit théâtre – 2013-2014 | illustrations Haydé

 

  • 4th-5th December 2013: “Le Petit Noël” pop-up shop by Mac & Fred in collaboration with Spice Your Life in Commugny (route de Coppet 26a). Stock up on some gorgeous winter pieces & unique Xmas pressies!

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  • 4th-8th December 2013: 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.
Grand Marché couvert de Noël - Halles CFF Morges © Sacha Fehlmann. Courtesy of Morges Tourisme.

Grand Marché couvert de Noël – Halles CFF Morges
© Sacha Fehlmann. Courtesy of Morges Tourisme.

 

  • 4th-8th December 2013: “Cirque du Soleil: Dralion”, a fascinating family show at the Arena de Genève.
© Cirque du Soleil Dralion

© Cirque du Soleil Dralion

 

  • Thursday 5th December 2013: Incroyable Noël sur Glace” at 7pm at the Patinoire Municipal de Martigny. A great show for the whole family with clowns, music, dance and lots of ice-skating of course!
Incroyable Noël sur Glace, Martigny © rrp communication

Incroyable Noël sur Glace, Martigny © rrp communication

 

  • Thursday 5th December 2013: Marché Sans Puces from 5.30pm to 1am at the Genev’Art Space in Les Acacias (Route des Jeunes 4bis, Les Ports Francs). The 4th edition of this uber-hip nocturnal market promises to be a million times better than the previous ones, and what could be a better place to purchase some exclusive Xmas presents for your better half? With live music from Ron Orp Geneva, gourmet burgers from The Hamburger Foundation and exquisie wines, festive shopping has never been so relaxed.

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  • until 6th December 2013: Sous la Lune II – Voyage dans la ville, a fun and interactive art installation at the Forum Meyrin (Place des Cinq-Continents 1), suitable from age 6. 50 m2 of space and 1,000 pieces of metal will be on hand for the children, who will be able to build their dream city. This interactive installation by artist Miguel Navarro (concept: Atelier des enfants, Centre Pompidou, Paris) is a truly fascinating piece of art, a giant game that the whole family will enjoy. See the official website for full details.
Sous la Lune II - Voyage dans la ville, photo copyright Thierry Ruffieux

Sous la Lune II – Voyage dans la ville, photo copyright Thierry Ruffieux

 

  • 6th-8th December 2013: Marché de Noël de la Noyere in Mont-sur-Rolle (VD). A fabulous, unique Xmas market where you will find original hand-made gifts, local delicacies, live jazz music and donkey rides for the little ones! Visit the official website for full programme details.
© Marché de Noël de la Noyere - Mont sur Rolle

© Marché de Noël de la Noyere – Mont sur Rolle

 

  • 6th-22nd December 2013: The Snow Queen, a magical musical adventure based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen at the Simply Theatre Studios in Versoix (Centre de Choiseul, Avenue de Choiseul 23A). Cai and Gerda have always been inseparable, so when Cai is spirited away by the evil Snow Queen it is up to his best friend Gerda to come to the rescue. Enter an enchanted world of talking flowers, fish-loving Laplanders and ferocious polar bears in this joyful adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless classic, full to the brim of toe-tapping tunes and knockabout comedy. Visit the official website for exact performance times and to book your tickets. Performed in English.
© Simply Theatre Academy, Versoix

© Simply Theatre Academy, Versoix

 

  • 6th December 2013-5th January 2014: 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.
© C L'Aventure, Annemasse

© C L’Aventure, Annemasse

 

  • 7th December 2013: “Morceaux en sucre”, a music & sounds show from age 3 at the Ecole des Ranches in Vernier (Rue du Village 6). Show starts at 4.30pm but door will open at 3.30pm, see the official website to book your tickets.
Morceaux en sucre - photo copyright Johanne Mathaly et Pascal Ayerbe

Morceaux en sucre – photo copyright Johanne Mathaly et Pascal Ayerbe

 

  • 7th-22nd December 2013: Medieval Market at Chillon Castle, open from 10am to 5pm at weekends. Experience a return to days of yore, an unforgettable opportunity to go back in time and explore the history, the customs and the daily life of the Middle Ages illustrated by people in period costumes. Also, book your places for the Medieval Banquet on Saturday 7th of December 2013, discover the culinary customs of the Middle Ages and the secret recipes of Maître Chiquart, chef at the court of Savoy. A sumptuous meal in the style of the lords of Chillon!
Medieval Market at Chillon Castle © Montreux Noël

Medieval Market at Chillon Castle © Montreux Noël

 

  • 9th December 2013: 1001 histoires en langue espagnole, music & storytime in Spanish for children aged 0 to 6 accompanied by an adult at the Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne / Jeunesse (Avenue d’Echallens 2A). From 9.30am to 10.30am, free entry.
© Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne / Jeunesse

© Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne / Jeunesse

 

  • 9th-10th December 2013: “Lire avec son bébé” at the BiblioQuartier des Grands-Hutins in Carouge (Rue de la Tambourine 3) on Monday 9th of Dec. from 10am to 10.45am; and at the Bibliothèque municipale Jeunesse in Carouge (Bd des Promenades 2bis) on Tuesday 10th from 10am to 10.45am. A lovely way to introduce your little babies & young toddlers to the magic of books.

 

  • 10th December 2013: “Aux Milles Voyages”, song & storytime in French for little buttons (babies & toddlers) at the Bibliothèque Aux Mille Feuille in Gland (38, grand rue). From 9am to 11am, free entry no advance booking necessary.

 

  • 10th-14th December 2013: HAÏKU, a fascinating shadow puppet-show from age 6 at L’étincelle Maison du quartier de la Jonction (av. Ste Clotilde 18bis, Geneva). A music & puppet show inspired by an ancient Japanese tale, showtimes are Tuesday & Friday at 7.30pm; Wednesday at 3pm and Saturday at 5pm & 8pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Image courtesy of Compagnie de la Luciole Ecarlate, Françoise Sors et Dominique Boulard, Aveyron (France)

Image courtesy of Compagnie de la Luciole Ecarlate, Françoise Sors et Dominique Boulard, Aveyron (France)

 

© 2013 Am Stram Gram Tous Droits Réservés

© 2013 Am Stram Gram Tous Droits Réservés

 

  • 11th December 2013: Bricolage de Noël from age 8 at the Bibliothèque de la Jonction in Geneva (Boulevard Carl-Vogt 22). Starts at 3pm (in French), free entry but places must be reserved in advance at 022 418 97 12.

 

  • 11th December 2013: Marché de Noël des enfants at the Parc des Bastions in Geneva from 2pm to 5pm. A lovely Xmas market dedicated exclusively to our little buttons, they are the only ones allowed to sell, buy or exchange their precious Xmas goodies. At the end of the event, a snack will also be offered to all children attending.

marché_bastions

 

  • 11th December 2013: Mam’zelle Chapeau, a delightful show for ages 1 to 3 at the Usine A Gaz in Nyon. Show starts at 11am, see the official website to purchase your tickets.
© Mam'zelle Chapeau

© Mam’zelle Chapeau

 

  • 11th December 2013:“Contes d’hiver”, story-time from age 6 at the Société de Lecture in Geneva (11, Grand’Rue). From 3.30pm to 5pm, story-time will end with a shared snack included in the price. Tickets are 10CHF for children and 15CHF for adults for members, and 15CHF/20CHF for non-members.

 

  • 11th December 2013: 1001 histoires en langue arabe, songs & storytime in Arabic for children aged 0 to 6 accompanied by an adult at the Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne / Jeunesse (Avenue d’Echallens 2A). From 9.30am to 10.30am, free entry.
© Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne / Jeunesse

© Bibliothèques de la Ville de Lausanne / Jeunesse

 

  • 11th December 2013: Contes au Musée monétaire in Lausanne (Palais de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6). Storytime in French for children. Tickets are 6CHF for adults, free for children under 16.

 

  • 11th December 2013: “À LA BELLE ESCALADE!”, part of the Mercredis Family at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva (Rue Charles-Galland 2). Children aged 6 and older accompanied by an adult are welcome every Wednesday at 3pm to discover all about the museum collections in a fun, interactive way. Reserve your places in advance at adp-mah@ville-ge.ch or by phone at 022 418 25 00. On Wednesday afternoons until December 2013 you can also take part in the museum’s “Visites-ateliers: Initiation à l’histoire de l’art” (ages 6-8 and 9-12). This is a cycle of 5 tours unveiling the most fascinating secrets of art history, each visit is followed by a creative workshop. On Wednesdays from 2pm to 6pm, 10CHF each session (places must be booked in advance).

 

© MAH 2013

© MAH 2013

 

  • 11th December 2013: “Grichka, le petit âne”, a lovely winter tale from age 4 with traditional Russian music at the Bibliothèque des Minoteries in Geneva (Parc des Minoteries 3-5). The show starts at 4pm, free entry.

 

  • 11th December 2013: Animation du mercredi  at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Genève (1, route de Malagnou). In connection with the current exhibition “Nos oiseaux”, these free Wednesday workshops will take place  from 2pm to 4.30pm (second floor).

 

  • 11th December 2013: “Mousse et le secret des pirates”, a fun puppet pirate show from age 4 at Le Spot, Maison de Quartier de Chêne-Bourg (2 rue François Perréard). Show starts at 3pm, tickets cost 6CHF for children and 14CHF for adults and must be reserved well in advance at 022 348 96 78.
© Cie Deaux Couettes

© Cie Deux Couettes

 

  • 11th December 2013: “Noël au château”, Christmas tales from age 5 (followed by a delicious snack) at the Château de Nyon. There will be 2 sessions: the first one from 2pm to 2.45pm; and the second from 3.30pm to 4.15pm. Places must be reserved in advance at info@chateaudenyon.chou or by phone at 022 3638351.

 

  • 11th December 2013: celebrate L’escalade at the ludothèque de Sécheron – Espace de quartier. From 3pm until 5pm your little ones will be able to dress-up, eat the traditional chocolate marmite & celebrate Geneva’s most famous historical festival! Hot tea and soup will be served from 4.30pm.
© Ludothèque de Sécheron, Geneva

© Ludothèque de Sécheron, Geneva

 

  • 12th December 2013: Nocturne de Noël in Coppet (VD) from 4pm. Discover the Marché sous les Arades & on the place des Ormes, and enjoy the Spectacle de Noël for children at the salle communale. Père Noël will also be there so don’t miss it! The Xmas show is from age 5 and entry is free.

blog-002

 

  • 12th-15th December 2013: 53e Concours Hippique International de Genève at Geneva Palexpo, Hall 4. An unmissable event if your children love horses, the CHI Geneva is one of the world’s most prestigious equestrian competitions. Each year, Palexpo, welcomes the very best riders and drivers of the planet on the biggest indoor arena. Each year, 700 highly motivated volunteers bring the event to life and welcome over 38’000 spectators over the four days. Visit the official website for full details.
© 53e Concours Hippique International de Genève

© 53e Concours Hippique International de Genève

 

  • Friday 13th December 2013: “Disco sur glace de L’Escalade” celebrate The Escalade at the Patinoire des Bastions in Geneva from 6.30pm. Put your skates on & enjoy this fun disco night, remember to dress up in fancy costume!

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  • 13th-15th December 2013: 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.
Image courtesy of MySwitzerland.com

Image courtesy of MySwitzerland.com

 

  • 13th-24th December 2013: Bonjour l’Hiver, a winter & Xmas celebration the whole fmaily will enjoy. Don’t miss the Xmas market, the Street Arts festival & the Xmas village in Annemasse’s old town. Free event, see the official website for full programme details.
 © Ville d'Annemasse (France)

© Ville d’Annemasse (France)

 

  • 13th December 2013-5th January 2014: Le fabuleux village des Flottins in Evian 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.
© Le fabuleux village des Flottins, Evian.

© Le fabuleux village des Flottins, Evian.

 

© Le fabuleux village des Flottins, Evian.

© Le fabuleux village des Flottins, Evian.

 

  • 14th December 2013: “Une, aucune, 100 histoires” storytime from age 3 at the Bibliothèque de la Cité in Geneva (Place des Trois-Perdrix 5). From 10am to 11am, free entry.

 

  • 14th December 2013: Histoires de Père Noël with the Théâtre Rikiko, enjoy these adorable Xmas tales from age 3 (in French) at the Bibliothèque de Saint-Jean in Geneva (Avenue des Tilleuls 19, entrée rue Miléant). Storytime begins at 3pm, free entry.

 

  • 14th December 2013: SOS Chats – Fête de Noël in Geneva. If you and your children love cats don’t miss this opportunity to support SOS Chats cat refuge during their Xmas party, open from 1pm to 7pm.
SOS Chats - Geneva

SOS Chats – Geneva

 

  • 14th December 2013: LES SECRETS DE LA MARMITE L’Escalade au musée at the Maison Tavel in Geneva, from age 5. Learn the story of Geneva’s Escalade with your little buttons. There will be 3 sessions: the first one at 2pm, then 3pm and 4pm free entry and no advance booking required.

 

  • Saturday 14th December 2013: “L’Escalade au Musée” a guided tour for the whole family conducted by torchlight. What better way to learn all about the history of the Geneva Escalade? Don’t miss this event at the Musée international de la Réforme in Geneva (4 Rue du Cloître): tours will take place every 30 mins from 5.30pm to 10pm. Tickets price is 6CHF per person.
Family tours © Musée International de la Réforme, Geneva

Family tours © Musée International de la Réforme, Geneva

 

  • 14th-15th December 2013: “La Belle et la Bête”, an enchanting opera for children at the Grande salle de la Place Neuve in Geneva, organized by the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève. Entry to the show is free of charge, but make sure you arrive a bit earlier to get a seat. Performance times will be 5pm on Saturday; 11am & 3pm on Sunday.
© Conservatoire de Musique de Genève

© Conservatoire de Musique de Genève

 

  • 15th December 2013: Marché des créateurs at L’Usine in Geneva (Place des Volontaires 4). A Xmas market with a difference, this artisans market offers the pick of the handmade crop! Open from 1pm to 7pm.

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  • 15th December 2013: “Les Puces de Noël”, Xmas flea market in Nyon, open from 8am to 6.30pm (but get there at 7 am for some great bargains!). Enjoy the lovely stalls & fab lake views along Rue de Rive and Place de Savoie.

 

  • 15th December 2013: “Que te dit ton coeur?”, Sonia Grimm’s new Xmas show with plenty of new songs to sing along & dance to! A wonderful family entertainer, Sonia Grimm’s shows are perfect from age 2. Book your tickets for the Lausanne show at the Théâtre de Beaulieu, starting at 4pm.
© Sonia Grimm

© Sonia Grimm

 

  • 18th December 2013: Bricolage de Noël (in French) from age 6 at the Bibliothèque de Saint-Jean in Geneva (Avenue des Tilleuls 19, entrée rue Miléant). From 3pm to 5pm, free entry but places must be reserved in advance at 022 418 92 02.

 

  • 18th December 2013:“It’s Storytime”, free storytime in English for ages 2 to 7 (but babies, toddlers and younger siblings are welcome) at the Bibliothèque Aux Mille Feuille in Gland (38, grand rue). The storytime session will run from 9.30am to 11am and the theme will be “Autumn & back to school”. See the official website for full details.

 

  • 18th December 2013: Noël des Tôps from 2pm to 5pm at the Ville Romaine de Pully (Lausanne), where your little historians will be able to learn everything about the origin of Xmas and take part in a fun workshop. For ages 7-12, 15CHF per person snack included. Places must be reserved in advance at 021 721 38 00.
© Villa romaine, Pully

© Villa romaine, Pully

 

  • 18th December 2013: Né pour lire, storytime for babies & young toddlers at the library in Meyrin (Bibliothèque Forum Meyrin – 1, pl. des Cinq-Continents). From 9am to 9.45am, free entry. Changing mats & breastfeeding cushions available.

 

  • 18th December 2013: L’Association Lire et Grandir will hold a story-time session in French for babies & young children at La Ribambelle halte garderie in Nyon (Chemin d’Eysins 51). Storytime will be from 9am to 10.30am, 5CHF per family.

 

  • 18th December 2013: Oiseaux en famille a guided tour for families at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle Genève. Disscover the fascinating world of birds in their current exhibition “Oiseaux”. Entry is free but places must be reserved in advance at 022 418 64 00. The tour will run from 1.30pm to 2.30pm.
© 2013 Muséum d'histoire naturelle, Genève

© 2013 Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Genève

 

  • 18th December 2013: Fête de Noël, Xmas party from age 4 at the Bibliothèque de la Servette (Rue Veyrassat 9), with story-telling, Xmas songs and snack for the little ones. Starts at 3pm, free entry.

 

  • until 18th December 2013: “L’oiseau chanteur”, an adorable puppet-show from age 4 at the Théâtre des Marionnettes de Genève (Rue Rodo 3). Visit the official website for exact performance times and to book your tickets.
© Théâtre des Marionnettes de Genève

© Théâtre des Marionnettes de Genève

 

  • 19th December 2013: Goûter de Noël from age 4 at the Bibliothèque des Minoteries (Parc des Minoteries 3-5), starting at 4.30pm. Free entry.

 

© Cirque Aïtal

© Cirque Aïtal

 

  • 21st December 2013: “Que te dit ton coeur?”, Sonia Grimm’s new Xmas show with plenty of new songs to sing along & dance to! A wonderful family entertainer, Sonia Grimm’s shows are perfect from age 2. Book your tickets for the Geneva show at the Arena Genève, at 2pm or 5.30pm.
© Sonia Grimm

© Sonia Grimm

 

  • 21st December 2013: Re-opening of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne (Quai d’Ouchy 1) following lengthy renovation works. Make the most of the free admission until the 24th of January 2014 and visit their fascinating exhibitions. Read more about it on their official website.
© Copyright The Olympic Museum - Le Musée Olympique 2013. All rights reserved

© Copyright The Olympic Museum – Le Musée Olympique 2013. All rights reserved

 

  • 22nd December 2013: free screening of the animated movie “Arrietty le petit monde des chapardeurs” (in French) at the Cinéma Odéon in Morges (Place Dufour 4). If you love Japanese anime movies, don’t miss this masterpiece by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Studio Ghibli, scripted by Hayao Miyazaki. I saw it last Xmas with my 2 boys and we all loved it! The screening will begin at 10.15am but doors will open at 9.45am. Stop by the to pick up the free tickets at the Cinéma Odéon in Morges as soon as possible as places are limited. “Arrietty” is recommended from age 7, but my boys were younger and loved it so you could also go with your 3 y.o. Happy viewing!

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  • 22nd December 2013: Crèche vivante à Morges, live nativity in Morges from 5pm to 6pm on the Grand’Rue. You will also find a Xmas market and live music from 2pm, as well as hot drinks and snacks. Merry Xmas to all!
© Crèche vivante à Morges

© Crèche vivante à Morges

 

  • until 24th of December 2013: 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 second edition of the Festival Lausanne Lumières (ends on the 2nd of January 2013). You’ll definitely be able to see Lausanne under a different light !

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  • until 24th December 2013: 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 !
 © Montreux Noël

© Montreux Noël

 

  • 25th December 2013: Petits Rendez-vous  at Geneva’s MAMCO at 3.15am for little ones aged 5 to 10 accompanied by an adult. These fun, interactive visits for kids are free of charge and require no advance booking. Introduce your little ones to the joys of modern art with these great guided tours.

 

  • until 29th December 2013: Indestructible énergie, an interactive exhibition about energy at the Espace des Inventions in Lausanne. The exhibition is tailored for your budding scientists and makes learning about energy fun & engaging!
© Espace des Inventions, Lausanne

© Espace des Inventions, Lausanne

 

  • until 31st December 2013: “Festival Lausanne Lumières”, with no less than thirteen 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.
Festival Lausanne Lumières - photo courtesy of Lausanne Tourisme

Festival Lausanne Lumières – photo courtesy of Lausanne Tourisme

 

  • 31st December 2013: Grand bal historique in Geneva, from 10pm to 2am. Dance the night away until 2am to the rhythm of quadrille, waltz, polka & mazurka, accompanied by a live orchestra – don’t worry about getting the moves wrong as these historic dances will be demonstrated by professional dancers in period costumes! This is a grand historical ball with a difference: not only will you be welcoming the New Year but also celebrate the restoration of the Geneva republic after 15 years of French rule, which took place on the 31st of December 1813. Read more about it in here.
© Ville de Genève

© Ville de Genève

 

  • 31st December 2013: New Year’s Eve in Geneva will be celebrated across various locations in the Old Town, including the Place du Bourg-de-Four, the Cour St.Pierre and the old Arsenal. Each zone will have its own DJ and bands playing live. Celebrations will start at 10pm and wrap up around 2.30am. Free entry. For more information about festive celebrations in Geneva, visit the CAGI Welcome Centre website. From 10pm to 2am you can also take part in the New Year’s celebrations on the plaine of Plainpalais, with great live concerts and giant screen to display your new year’s wishes (just use the hashtag #31GE on Instagram, Facebook, Google +, Twitter & Vine). Happy 2014!
© Ville de Genève

© Ville de Genève

 

© Cirque de Noël, Geneva

© Cirque de Noël, Geneva

 

  • 31st December 2013: New Year’s Eve celebrations at at Le petit théâtre in Lausanne (place de la Cathédrale 12). This is the perfect family celebration for the arrival of 2014! First enjoy the kids show “L’Arche part à 8 heures” (from age 7), followed by a delicious buffet-style New Year’s Eve dinner for the whole family. The show will start at 9pm, the price per person is 25CHF. See the official website to book your tickets.
© Tous droits réservés - le petit théâtre - 2013-2014 | illustrations Haydé

© Tous droits réservés – le petit théâtre – 2013-2014 | illustrations Haydé

 

© Tous droits réservés - le petit théâtre - 2013-2014

© Tous droits réservés – le petit théâtre – 2013-2014

 

 

  • 31st December 2013: New Year’s Eve Party for children & their parents at indoor playcentre C L’Aventure in Annemasse (France). From 7.30pm to 1am you will welcoming the New Year having fun! Places must be reserved by the 26th of December 2013 at +33 (0)4-50-74-37-82. You can read more about C L’Aventure in our previous post.
© C L'Aventure, Annemasse

© C L’Aventure, Annemasse

 

  • 31st December 2013: “Le grand bal masqué” at the Usine A Gaz in Nyon (VD). Unfortunately, this is not a suitable event for children but if you find a baby-sitter for the night you can welcome the new year in style with this great party, from 10pm to 6am. Tickets are 25CHF per person.
© Le grand bal masqué, Usine A Gaz Nyon

© Le grand bal masqué, Usine A Gaz Nyon

 

  • For more New Year’s Eve ideas, click here.

 

ONGOING:

  • Enjoy a relaxed, scrumptious family Sunday brunch – here’s a selection of child-friendly places we’ve tried and tested for you: Sunday brunch with kids.
Kids corner for Sunday brunch at Le Richemond, Geneva - photo © Le Richemond

Kids corner for Sunday brunch at Le Richemond, Geneva – photo © Le Richemond

 

  • until 5th January 2014: Noël des Alpes in Annecy. 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!
 © Ville d'Annecy

© Ville d’Annecy

 

  • until 5th January 2014: 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

© Cirque de Noël, Geneva

 

  • until 12th January 2014: Christmas at the Castle – Cribs between Art and kitsch at the Castle of Gruyères (Rue du Château 8). Visit this unique selection representing more than 50 nativity scenes ranging from the rare 19th century figurines made of wax to the suave polychromy of the Tyrolean crib dating from 1920, up until the current day and exotic countries, the presentation displays a fascinating eloquence of materials.
© Castle of Gruyères

© Castle of Gruyères

 

 

  • The new 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.

 

  • until 5th January 2014: “Sel”, a fun & interactive exhibition about salt at the Musée de la main in Lausanne (Rue du Bugnon 21). Learn all there is to know about this essential condiment, how it is produced, collected and digested by our bodies. This is a perfect exhibition for the whole family, see the official website for a complete list of the upcoming kids’ workshops: “Le goût” (ages 4-7); “La chimie amusante du sel” (ages 6-13); “Le fabuleux voyage intérieur de Monsieur Grindsel” (ages 8-12).
Copyright © Fondation Claude Verdan, Lausanne. Tous droits réservés.

Copyright © Fondation Claude Verdan, Lausanne. Tous droits réservés.

 

  • until 12th January 2014: BÊTES EN STOCK: Nouvelles collections at the Musée de Zoologie in Lausanne (Palais de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6). A small but fascinating insight into how the collections of the museum are preserved and studied – your little ones will love watching the butterflies and insects up close ! Open Tuesday to Sunday, entry is free on the first saturday of every month and is always free for children under the age of 16.
Copyright © 2013 Musée de Zoologie, Lausanne

Copyright © 2013 Musée de Zoologie, Lausanne

 

  • until 12th January 2014: «Toutankhamon – son tombeau et ses trésors», a fascinating exhibition which reconstructs the tomb and funerary treasure of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, as it would have appeared to the eyes of Howard Carter, the British archaeologist who discovered it in 1922. See the exhibition’s official website for full details. At Geneva Palexpo Halle 7, open everyday from 10am to 7pm. Entry tickets are on special offer on Mondays at 16CHF per person.
© Toutankhamon – son tombeau et ses trésors

© Toutankhamon – son tombeau et ses trésors

 

  • until 2nd February 2014: “Le Blé, l’autre Or des Romains” at the Musée Romain de Nyon (9 rue Maupertuis). In ancient Roman times corn was an essential part of everyday life, which made it very precious. Corn was also a tool of power in the hands of the Roman emperors and this fascinating exhibition explores how it affected Roman society in all its aspects: food, economics, trade, politics and even religion. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm until the month of November. From November until March opening times will be 2pm to 5pm.
 © Musée Romain de Nyon

© Musée Romain de Nyon

 

  • until 2nd March 2014: “Palmes & Co. exposition-promenade” at the Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques in Geneva, one of Switzerland’s most important collection of palm trees. Close your eyes and pretend summer is still here as you stroll through the Botanical Garden’s beautiful lawns and spot all the different varieties of palm trees. The Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques are a great place for families, so make sure you make the most of their small zoo and fantastic playground. Open everyday from 8am to 7.30pm, see the botanical gardens’ official website for full details and a complete list of their guided tours.
© 2013 Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques, Ville de Genève.

© 2013 Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques, Ville de Genève.

 

  • until 30th April 2014: An Artist’s Delight temporary exhibition at the Alimentarium in Vevey. Check the official website for un updated list of all available children’s and family workshops – you can also read about our visit to the Alimentarium in this post: trust us, it’s a great family day-out!
 © Alimentarium, Vevey

© Alimentarium, Vevey

 

  • until 21st September 2014: “Oiseaux”, a fantastic birds exhibition at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle Genève. Discover the magic world of birds and how we can help to preserve them. Free entry.
© 2013 Muséum d'histoire naturelle, Genève

© 2013 Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Genève

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