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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 23th.

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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For members


Will there be a white Christmas in Switzerland this year?

After lots of snow and sub-zero temperatures this December, many people are wondering if Switzerland will see a white Christmas. Here's what to expect.

Will there be a white Christmas in Switzerland this year?

Swiss weather experts have been sharing their forecasts for the coming days in anticipation of the festive weekend – but it looks like milder weather is here to stay, at least for now. 

Roger Perret, meteorologist for MeteoNews, said on December 16th that a white Christmas was extremely unlikely in low altitude areas. 

There has to be at least one centimetre of snow at 7am on December 24th, 25th or 26th to make it a white Christmas.

Last week up to 10 centimetres of snow was recorded in Aargau. But according to MeteoNews, it is set to be around 12C in Aarau on December 24th.

“The weather is clearly throwing a spanner in the works of the hoped-for white Christmas,” said Perret.

“We expect very mild temperatures this week. It will rain up to over 1,500 metres, and on Friday it will only snow from well above 2,000 metres.”

‘Christmas thunderstorm’

So what will the weather be like? Expect lots of rain and wind. 

Forecaster Perret said that “Christmas thunderstorm” weather was set to hit the lowlands. 

“Christmas thunderstorm is the term used to describe the mild, wet period of weather with Atlantic air mass that always occurs around Christmas in Central Europe, and thus also in Switzerland.”

The Meteonews map below shows the weather on Christmas Eve.


Weather December 24th. Source: Meteonews

“Often a mild phase sets in before the holidays and then gives us a widespread green Christmas in the lowlands, even if – as this year – there was already a blanket of snow beforehand.”

Meteonews tweeted on Wednesday: “In the coming days, it will not only be mild, but also windy. On Friday, we expect wind peaks between 60 and 70 km/h in the lowlands, on the mountains there will be storm gusts, and in exposed locations hurricane gusts.”

Perret added that studies have shown that, especially since the 2000s, snowfall in the lowlands before and at Christmas has become much less frequent, which is likely due to global warming.

“Nevertheless, the variability of the climate still allows for the possibility of a white Christmas in the lowlands as an exception,” said Perret.

Here are some Christmas weather records in Switzerland:

Highest temperature recorded: Acquarossa/Comprovasco 19.6C (25.12. 2016)

Lowest temperature: La Brévine -37.8C (24.12. 2001)

Largest snowfall at altitudes below 600 m: Chur 57 cm (24.12. 1962)

Largest snowfall in the mountains: Säntis 475 cm (26. 12. 1981)

Largest amount of new snow in 24 hours at altitudes below 600 m: Chur 39 cm (24.12. 1923)

Largest amount of new snow in 24 hours in the mountains: San Bernardino 120 cm (25.12. 2013)

Largest total precipitation over Christmas: Brissago 256 litres (2013)

Maximum gusts below 600 m: Brienz 182 km/h (26.12. 1999, storm Lothar)

Maximum gusts in the mountains: Jungfraujoch 249 km/h (26.12. 1999, storm Lothar)