One of the best places to visit in Switzerland during the colder months is the city of Geneva. Whether you’re looking for some festive cheer at a Christmas market, a fondue cooking class, or an open-air lights festival, the pretty little city of Geneva has it all in spades.
Noël au Jardin, the Geneva Christmas Market
From late November until just after Christmas, visitors can enjoy the delights of the Geneva Christmas market, Noël au Jardin.
Located in Geneva’s Jardin anglais (English Garden), the market is packed with adorable wooden chalets where vendors sell various goodies. The stallholders also rotate each week, meaning there is a different array of treats available depending on when you visit the market. You and your loved ones are sure to enjoy something from the Noël au Jardin!
The Jardin anglais is located on the banks of the iconic Lake Geneva. It makes for the perfect spot for an Instagram photo or two, as the famous Jet d’Eau Fountain and the snow-capped Alps are visible in the distance. The garden is also home to Geneva’s incredible L’horloge fleurie, an elaborate “flower clock” made up of over 20,000 blooms.
Even better? If you’re a foodie, this is the spot for you. Take your pick from the many street food stands serving up local delicacies. These include Swedish raclette cheese and festive treats such as mulled wine, the perfect duo to warm you up on those cold winter nights. The Christmas Pub is also worth a visit. The live DJ provides the soundtrack for a fun night full of wintry apéritifs (alcoholic beverages) and dancing. Are you a fan of fondue? Head on down to the cozy wooden chalet serving up the delicious cheesy delicacy by the plenty.
Fête de l’Escalade
If you fancy taking a step back in time, then Fête de l’Escalade (The Festival of Scaling Walls) might just be what you’re looking for.
Once upon a time, on the night of December 11, 1602, the Duke of Savoy’s troops stormed Geneva to annex the city to France. However, thanks to the efforts of Geneva’s loyal citizens, they failed. Ever since, Genevans have celebrated the victory annually at Fête de L’Escalade.
In this celebration, the whole city enjoys the historical traditions. Costumed characters roam the city on foot and horseback accompanied by children who proudly carry torches to the sound of drums and the fantastic choir. The event culminates in a massive celebration where everyone gathers to sing historical songs around a bonfire—what’s not to love?
Geneva Lux Festival
For the past eight Januarys, Geneva has hosted the acclaimed Geneva Lux Festival, an open-air festival of lights that beautifully illuminates this magical lakeside city.
The festival combines modernity with tradition and showcases technical and artistic innovation through displaying original artworks by artists from Switzerland and beyond, highlighting creative talent in a new light—literally and figuratively.
Geneva Lux is a beautiful experience for those looking for a unique activity during their time in the city. It’s a great way to explore Geneva while also getting to appreciate a wide range of talent through the incredible works of art on display throughout the city. The festival is free to attend.
Edelweiss Cheese Fondue Cooking Class
And finally, for a quintessentially Swiss experience, why not try a cheese fondue cooking class at Edelweiss Restaurant? This fantastic class teaches you how delicious fondue is made, giving you a dish you can cook to really impress your friends back home.
Prices start from 50 chf ($55) per person, and all classes include a tasting, because what’s the fun in cooking if you don’t get to try your food? This is a fantastic way to fully immerse yourself in Swiss culture while also getting some delicious treats out of it.
Spruce up your winter holiday (pun intended!) in Switzerland with a scenic train ride through the alpine countryside.