December, here we come! Here’s a list of fun Christmas-y things to do with your family in the region. It will be impossible to do everything, so plan wisely. Many of these events and places are open yearly, so don’t worry if you miss out this time. You can always do it next year.
New Christmas events will be added regurarly to the events calendar under the « christmas » category.
ICE KINGDOM AT SCHILLIGER
Schilliger Garden Center is an absolute champion when it comes to Christmas decorations. Each year, they chose one Christmas-y theme and transform their shops into a Christmas paradise – this year it’s the Kingdom of Ice! It’s beautiful, magical, and accompanied by events/workshops for small and big (you’ll find them all in Parentville’s calendar). There are also Christmas bauble from Poland (in Gland only). Talented people who can personalize your baulb with anything you’d like – it can make for a great gift, and a great souvenir.
Great news: the shop in Gland is open also on Sundays till Christmas!
CIRQUE DE NOEL
November 25 – January 7, Plainpalais
Acrobatics, clowns, magic tricks all in Christmas atmosphere. Attention: the show includes animals performing tricks. You can check more information on their website.
CHRISTMAS MARKET BY KIDS FOR KIDS
December 6, Bastions
The traditional Christmas market held by the pupils of the primary schools of the City of Geneva returns to the Bastions. Under the heated Escalade tent, by selling games and toys they learn the value of things, but most importantly to give a new life to old toys. Happiness is not about having the latest gadgets. More info here.
HAMEAU DU PERE NOEL & GRAND PARC DE NOEL
Hameau du Pere Noel is an incredible place. It’s a village in nearby France (a really short drive) in which Santa lives with all his family. The decorations are mindblowing and the whole setup feels as real as it can be. You can read all about it here. But that is not all! The neighboring Grand Parc d’Andilly was transformed into the Grand Parc de Noel! You can get one ticket to visit both places on the same day (a shuttle bus will take you from to the other) or decide to visit just one. Both places have shops by the exit, with all you may need for a magical Christmas.
November 23 – December 24
It is the most famous Christmas market in the region! It’s big, beautiful, by the lake – and not only! Lots of stalls with food and possible Christmas gifts. But the special feautures are what makes it amazing.
The first one is « La Maison du Pere Noel » – one train ride up the mountain to the Rochers-de-Naye (at 2042 m) and you’re in Santa’s house. An opportunity to meet Santa, talk to him, and even get a small surprise, and woohoo – a certificate of meeting Santa! More info here. Downside: it can be crowded, and the visit is rather short.
Kids will also love watching Santa fly over lake Geneva every day (can only be seen from the Montreux shore) – chek it out.
Chateau Chillon has several dates of fun family activities « Noel au Chateau » – check it out and book your tickets!
CLAUS – A MUSICAL ADVENTURE
November 25 – December 17; Simply Theater, Versoix
Not at all Christmas related but the most important celebration in Geneva happens in December. It is accompanied by wonderful fun! You can find out all what it’s about in my article here. There is a traditional parade, an opportunity to visit secret places in the Old Town (closed all other days of the year), and much more! The rest of the program is available here.
The most christmasy urban sport there is! And there are plenty of rinks in the canton. Almost every neighborhood and every municipality provides a rink. For good ice quality check Vernets and Vergers (Meyrin). For charm go to Bastions or Carouge. For fun try any rink closest to you. All ice skating places provide skates for rent. Gloves are always obligatory. All places have an accompanying buvette with hot drinks and simple snacks. Some of them (like Vergers, Carouge, Grand-Saconnex) have accompanying restaurants with good menu and fondue!