Xmas in Geneva

With the first light dusting of snow in Geneva and the opening of 2 windows in our advent calendar, we are definitely raring to go !

Here’s some of our favourite activities in Geneva & Vaud during the festive season (you can find more here):

  • Friday 30th of November 2012-6th January 2013: Festival Arbres en lumière 2012. This year’s Christmas lights in Geneva’s Old Town and are set to be stunning. Be prepared to admire the work of over 12 Swiss & international artists who have turned some of the trees in Geneva’s Old Town into dazzling works of contemporary art.


  • Christmas Markets in Geneva: you’ll find a lovely, small Xmas market in Place de la Fusterie. Geneva’s famous Marché de Noël des enfants will take place at the Parc des Bastions on Wednesday 5th December 2012 (2pm t 5pm). The market is organized by and for children of all ages, who will be able to buy and sell their favourite toys, DVDs, books etc. as well as enjoy a free goûter at the end of their long day !


  • Saturday 1st of December 2012 marks the beginning of the Noël à Carouge celebrations: from now until the 23rd of December all the 130 boutiques in Carouge will be open on Sunday and there will be a typical Xmas market on the 14th-15th & 16th of December 2012. Carouge is really fab at this time of year.


  • Montreux Noël is probably the best Christmas market in Switzerland and it runs until the 24th of December 2012. Read more about it and all the Xmas celebrations around Montreux here.


  • Running at the same time as Montreux Noël (23rd of November – 24th of December 2012), but closer to Geneva are 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 first 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 !


  • To put your little helpers in full-mode Xmas spirit, don’t forget you can also visit Santa’s house in Andilly (France) and read all about it in our previous post. 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.


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 !).

  • Patinoire des Bastions, Geneva – open Tuesday to Sunday until the 23rd of February 2013. Entry is free and skates can be hired for 2CHF. Click here for exact opening times. You can celebrate Geneva’s Escalade on your skates as well, on Wednesday 12th of December 2012:

11am-7pm: Patinez déguisés!  Get your skates & dress-up costumes & go (but careful!)

7pm-10pm: Ice-skating disco night for all


© Patinoire des Bastions, Geneva


  • The Patinoire des Charmilles in Geneva is smaller but it’s great fun for families: on Saturday at 4pm they hold “Glisse en musique” sessions for families that are really good fun ! Entry is free and skates can be hired for 2CHF. Click here for opening times, the rink is closed on Mondays.
  • 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 ! Open until the 24th of February 2013, it’s closed on Mondays only (opening times here). Entry is free and they have a rich calendar of fun events “on ice”, that you can find here. This year you’ll also find a very cool ice bar right by the skating rink ! 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.

Click here if you’d like to read more about my expat life in Geneva, or here for my facebook page. Thank you for reading !