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Which Swiss Christmas markets are opening in November?

The leaves haven’t totally fallen off the trees across Switzerland yet, but Christmas markets in some areas are already setting up their stalls. Where can you eat, drink, and be merry starting this week?

Which Swiss Christmas markets are opening in November?
Some Christmas markets are opening in Switzerland in November. Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Even though it’s still officially autumn in Switzerland, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the song says.

Towns big and small are preparing to celebrate the holiday season in — so far, at least — a pandemic-free environment. In fact, the festive mood makes it easy to forget that in 2020 markets were closed, and in 2021 some places required a Covid certificate to enter.

While most markets in Switzerland will open at the beginning of December to coincide with the start of the Advent on December 1st, some will be inaugurated this week and next.

This is an overview of where you can begin the Christmas season in November.

Lausanne, ‘Bô Noël’

Starting on Thursday November 17th, the Vaud capital will inaugurate small Christmas markets in various locations throughout the city:

  • Place Saint-François
  • Place Pépine
  • Arches du Grand-pont et place de l’Europe
  • Terrasse Jean-Monnet
  • Place Centrale
  • Esplanade de la Cathédrale
  • Esplanade du Flon

Various activities from Christmas shopping to eating, drinking, and entertainment for the young and old will be plentiful at all the sites.

Open: From November 17th to December 31st

Geneva, Jardin Anglais

The traditional market, located in the middle of a lakeside urban park, is opening on November 18th.

Like any Christmas market worthy of the name, it will feature an artisan market where you can purchase holiday decorations and other trinkets, as well as enjoy typical fare like mulled wine and raclette. (Christmas purists may argue that melted cheese is not really a ‘typical’ holiday dish, but you are, after all, in Switzerland).

Open: from November 18th to December 23rd

Geneva, Noël du Mont-Blanc

As a complement to the Jardin Anglais site, Geneva’s second Christmas market, on rue du Mont-Blanc, will open on November 24th.

As each year, it will feature a wide range of artisanal products and local specialities.

Open from November 25th to December 28th

A lit statue  ‘floats’ over a Geneva street at Christmas. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Montreux (Vaud)

Scenically located along the shore of Lake Geneva, the “Montreux Noel” market is one of the country’s most famous Christmas fairs.

Attractions include Santa Claus / Father Christmas flying on his sled, as well as special activities inside the legendary Chillon Castle, located just a snowball away from the cite centre.

Open from November 18th to December 24th

Basel: Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz

Spread across two squares, Basel’s annual Christmas market – open from November 24th – is one of Switzerland’s largest and most picturesque.

About 200 booths offer an array of things traditionally associated with this holiday, from exquisite hand-made ornaments to regional delicacies.

Open from November 24th to December 23rd.

Basel’s Old Town decorated with Christmas lights. Image by Christophe Schindler from Pixabay 

Zurich, several markets

Switzerland’s largest city has not one, not two, but FIVE Christmas fairs spread around town, all opening on November 24th: at Sechseläutenplatz, Old Town, Bahnhof, Münsterhof, and Werdmühleplatz.

They include attractions like a singing Christmas tree, one decorated with 7,000 crystals, along with gifts, decorations, food, and drink.

Open: November 24th to December 23rd.

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Here’s how to celebrate Christmas the Swiss way

From the giving of presents to the food and drink consumed, every European country has its own customs surrounding Christmas - and that is no different for the Swiss.

Here's how to celebrate Christmas the Swiss way

The Local unwraps the festive traditions in Switzerland so you can have yourself a merry Swiss Christmas. From epic baking sessions to DIY gifts: here’s how to do Christmas the Swiss way.

Christmas morning walk

On cold winter days, there is nothing quite as refreshing as kicking off Christmas morning with a quiet stroll through your neighbourhood – as some Swiss like to do before family and friends start knocking on their front door.

We suggest toasting your walk with a cup of mulled wine, grabbing a cosy blanket and snacking on some roasted almonds to start off the day.


“Many families, especially those with children, make and decorate their own Christmas cookies. It is an important family event where kids and parents participate,” says Katalin Fekete, co-author of the Swiss Cookies recipe book.

Milanese (Mailänderli) lemon shortbreads, cinnamon stars (Zimtsterne) and little Swiss “brownies” (Brunsli) are traditional in the German-speaking part but have now spread to other parts of Switzerland.

There are also regional specialities, such as aniseed cookies (Anischräbeli) from the canton of Aargau, Läckerli spice biscuits from Basel and Tirggel honey biscuits from Zurich.

“Rum balls (Rumkugeln) and Swiss chocolate truffles (truffes) are popular nowadays too, especially to give away as a present,” says Fekete.

While some families choose to bake in the days leading up to Christmas Day, others prefer freshly baked goods on the day – and there’s another benefit to leaving your baking until Christmas morning.

Namely, if you happen to be in need of a spontaneous Christmas gift, then a bag of nicely wrapped Christmas cookies will do the trick. In fact, the Swiss not only love to bake these traditional Christmas cookies, but they are often given to friends and family as a gift during the Christmas season.

Church visit

While many devout Swiss of various faiths head to church on Christmas Eve, Switzerland’s Catholic churches also hold church services throughout Christmas Day where the story of the birth of Jesus Christ is shared.

This tradition is still widespread today. The Christmas services are among the best-attended liturgical church celebrations in Switzerland.

Some religious Swiss also gather in their own homes to read passages from the bible to their family by the Christmas tree.

You can access a list of Switzerland’s churches here.


Once the family has gathered, it is time for the much-anticipated Christmas meal.

Unlike most European countries, Switzerland doesn’t really have ‘classic’ Christmas dishes such as the turkey in the UK or the roasted goose in Germany and some would argue that one signature Christmas dish wouldn’t suit a country this multicultural and multilingual.

However, while the Swiss do not eat one and the same thing on Christmas Day, a classic choice among the sociable Swiss is fondue chinoise. Instead of cheese, thin slices of meat are dipped into a shared pot of steaming broth and eaten with vegetables and other accompaniments.

Note that the dish is not (but can be) traditionally eaten with chopsticks, but rather fondue forks.

Other traditional Christmas dished include Schüfeli (pork shoulder), rolled ham, raclette and fondue bourguignonne (beef).

Depending on the canton, some Swiss may dig into Pastetli mit Milken (veal pies) – Aargau, Ravioli in Brodo (ravioli in broth) – Ticino, and if you live in French-speaking Switzerland, roast turkey.

READ MORE: The Christmas food that brings comfort and joy to the Swiss


Singing and playing music or instruments is also a very popular ritual on Christmas for the Swiss.

While this tradition is not embraced by every Swiss family (nor every family member), singing Christmas carols by the tree is an integral part of the Christmas celebration for many.

Some Christmas songs that are popular in Swiss families may include Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Ihr Kinderlein kommet, Leise rieselt der Schnee, O du fröhliche, O Tannenbaum and of course, the classic We wish you a merry Christmas.


Needless to say, the most anticipated part of Christmas is of course the unwrapping of the gifts.

But did you know that in Switzerland, most families unwrap presents on Christmas Eve and not in fact, on Christmas Day?

Still, a select few Swiss families choose to kick off Christmas morning with the gift-giving instead.

If you’re wondering what to do if you your present doesn’t live up to your expectations, read The Local’s article on the rules around returning Christmas gifts in Switzerland.