Christmas in Zurich

Zurich has everything we could wish for Christmas and more: the snow that gently covers the rooftops, the magic fulfilling every corner, the comforting smell of the cinnamon released from the delicious mulled wine, the beautiful and artistic lights on the streets, the solemn Christmas carols, the Christmas markets and villages which always carry us to the innocence of our dreams and, of course, the Christmas trees!

Would you like to visit it? Well, you just need to pack some warm clothes and the genuine desire to be happy!

Christmas, you’re very welcome here!

The city dresses up to welcome this special time of the year. In Zurich, the celebration officially arrives when the Christmas lights are turned on. And these special lights even have a name: they are called Lucy, just like the Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. They truly shine like diamonds at the famous Bahnhofstrasse, one of the busiest streets in the city. It is a special occasion that gathers everyone. There is joy and spirit of sharing in the air. Christmas season has just arrived and here it is always welcomed!

After turning on the Christmas lights and officially welcoming this special holiday, it is time to welcome… Santa Claus! And Zurich knows how to receive its guests, especially when it comes to someone so nice and generous. Once again the moment which marks Santa’s arrival takes place at the Bahnhofstrasse. Santa arrives in a cheerful and colourful Parade (the Samichlaus’s Parade) along with live music, a lot of entertainment, pure joy and fantasy. Now the city is ready for Christmas!

Christmas markets and villages everywhere! 

There are quite a lot of markets and Christmas villages to choose from and usually they open to the public at the end of November. In Zurich, the existence of these themed places is not a tradition as old as it is in Germany, however it has already become very popular. And because winter has just begun, we suggest that you visit these markets and villages while drinking a nice glass of Glühwein (mulled wine) – it’s a tradition around here. It warms hearts and tastes very good.

You can find the Zurich’s oldest market in Niederdorf, right in the oldest part of town. A walk through this lovely Christmas fair (so cozy and traditional) can surely take us to the essence of the season. While you are wandering around, you may even lose track of time. There is a lot to see, many presents to choose from and some irresistible regional delicacies to taste.

One of these typical Christmas markets highlights is clearly the culinary delights made in Switzerland, along with its delicious beverages. We can give you some suggestions: the sweet honey and apple punch, the wonderful hot chocolate, the cheese fondues, that gently melt in our mouths as we taste them, the famous and unforgettable raclettes (a dish made with melted cheese), the desirable crepes and the daring waffles. It’s an authentic celebration of flavours and it’s never easy to choose among so many options.

We are still in the Christmas markets circuit, so we suggest you the most central one. It is one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe, as well. It is held at the Main Train Station, in Hauptbahnhof. It welcomes those who arrive by train, as well as people from everywhere. It has more than 150 stalls where you’ll be able to find all you need for this time of the year: beautiful crafts, the most typical Swiss products, the delicious gastronomic specialties (always so generous with our taste buds) and the best gifts ideas. It truly gathers everything that is really good and it even offers you art related to Christmas, as well.
Every year, the visitors can watch a breathtaking spectacle of lights. It has a colourful carousel, specially created for the little ones, a flying angel suspended in the ceiling and music, of course! To brighten up all this scenery, there you will be able to find a very special Christmas tree (about 15 metres high) decorated with more than 7.000 of Swarovski crystals. No wonder it is one of the most visited markets in the city.

There is another enchanted place that you should include in your Christmas tour — the medieval Rapperswil-Jona’s market. It is located near the Lake Zurich and it is one of the largest in the country. Once again, it is filled with magic and it remind us of the most beautiful Christmas tales. Once there, you can sense a charming romantic vibe. It also offers a cultural program specially created to please people of all ages.

In the light of Christmas  

As we all know, Christmas can mean light and reflection. In Zurich, the candle making is part of the tradition. Everyone can peacefully create their own candle and take it home as a souvenir. If you like you can try this special art at the Bürkliplatz, in a pavilion transformed into an art studio. Besides being a place where you will be able to stimulate your creativity, the calm atmosphere that is all around invites you to meditate, something that makes sense during these special days.

For over 50 years, the Limmat River (which divides the city) has been the stage for one of the most beautiful moments that this stunning city has to offer at this particular time of the year, something that you just can’t miss. It’s the Lichterschwimmen, a floating candle event where hundreds of tiny candles (made carefully by children) are gently launched in the river. Once launched, the small candles (shaped like small boats) follow the river course, giving us a remarkable spectacle of lights. That is how the city wishes you happy holidays. 

Christmas carols everywhere 

They are part of the spirit that we can feel on the streets. We can even listen to it in the most unlikely places such as one very special Christmas tree placed at the Werdmühleplatz. It is a unique attraction: instead of the Christmas ornaments that should be decorating the tree is, in fact, a lovely group of children singing beautifully on a vertical stage. All together, they offer you an unforgettable evening to the sound of the eternal Christmas songs. It is one of the main Christmas hotspots in the city and, every year, it gathers people from everywhere. Please take note of this special tree, so you don't miss this experience.

But there are other musical experiences that you should consider while you are in the city: we suggest, for example, a visit to the Zurich Opera House, at the Falkenstrasse. As part of the advent calendar program, every day the visitors have the chance to attend to free concerts, of approximately 15 minutes, offered by the musicians of the city's Philharmonic Orchestra

So this is Christmas, there is snow and there is ice! 

And because we are in Switzerland, there are several ice rinks waiting for skating enthusiasts of all ages. Everyone is invited to practice epic pirouettes or simply slide. Among them, we highlight two: the first is located right in front of the Opera House, in the Christmas market of Bellevue, at the Sechseläutenplatz. It is one of the most popular ice rinks in Zurich and, with the Opera House building as its backdrop, it is also one of the most beautiful.

There is another ice rink we recommend and this one is very close to the main station, at the Gustav-Gaviota-Platz. It is called Europaallee and it is known for its figure skating professional performances. If you prefer, you can try the Polyterrasse, right in front of the Federal Institute of Technology and surrounded by one of the most breathtaking views of the old town. Besides the ice skating, it has other activities like the storytelling about Christmas.

And in Zurich, we truly can be characters of the most beautiful stories, always with a happy ending!

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