Hello everyone! Finally we are less than one month away from the most important festival in Europe – Christmas! Most of the Christmas markets are open from now on! What can be better than having a cup of mulled wine and some roasted almonds while surrounded by happy people, Christmas lights, Santa Claus, Christmas wreaths, stars, reindeers, candles, bells, angels, snowmen, and of course, Christmas trees! When it’s in this season, Christmas markets are the best places to enjoy Christmas atmosphere. You can hangout with your friends, have some snacks and drinks, choose some handmade Christmas gifts for your family, or, alternatively, just immerse yourself in this festive environment.
I guess many people are thinking, you’re from China, and you don’t even celebrate Christmas in China, why are you so excited and happy about Christmas? Well, the answer is actually quite simple. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, one month before which, all the shopping malls, streets, houses, flats, train stations, squares, basically everywhere are decorated with lights, stars, wreaths, candles, bells, angels and Christmas trees. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, before and during which, you can go to the specially decorated markets to enjoy a cup of mulled wines, some special snacks and have a laugh with your friends, whom you might not have seen for almost a year or even longer. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, before which you and your beloved ones will clean and decorate and make your sweet home warm and comfortable again. I would definitely fall in love with it, if there is another festival, during which you get the chance to spend some quality time with your beloved family, whom you have missed and have only chatted through phone or video calls in the last year.
I guess it’s pretty much like my love for the Toffee Nut Latte in Starbucks. The first time I had it was in Starbucks in Suzhou, China around 7 years ago. I liked it at that time and since then, I drink it every year when it’s Christmas time, whether in China, the UK or Switzerland, because each year when I drink it, it reminds me of the Christmas of the previous year or years. I might not remember clearly how many cups I had, but I definitely remember those dearest friends and family members that I drank it with. Some people might say they haven’t even heard of Toffee Nut Latte in Starbucks, some people might say it’s too sweet, some people might say it’s too fat, but I don’t really care, because it makes me happy and it reminds me of something that I cherish.
Since now I’m living in Switzerland, and inspired by my friend Julia, I asked myself, why don’t I visit the Christmas markets in and around Switzerland during this festive time of the year? I’ve been to quite some mountains, cities and some villages, but seeing them in Christmas lights, candles, and under Christmas atmosphere? I’m sure I’ll see and feel more about them. It feels like visiting an old friend, but this time, in a fairyland, more magical and surprising I guess.
Wouldn’t the Christmas markets be all the same? I can guarantee you, no, they are not, at least not in Switzerland. There are so many high, snowy mountains, peaceful villages, modern cities in Switzerland. There are towns sitting at the foot of the giant mountains, or by the amazing lakes. There are German, French and Italian parts of Switzerland, which respectively convey the culture and tradition of Germany, France and Italy. Doesn’t this country offer the best opportunity to explore the Christmas markets in western Europe? Basel, Bellinzona, Montreux, Lucerne, Bern, Zürich, Locarno, St. Gallen, Chur, Lugano, Einsiedeln, Rapperswil-Jona, Constance, Colmar, Stuttgart, Munich, Strasbourg, Freiburg, Heidelberg and so on, what are the Christmas markets like there? I’m not confident that I can visit all the Christmas markets this year, but I’m confident that they will make my Christmas this year unforgettable.
It is said that the Christmas market in Basel is the biggest one in Switzerland and Lugano is called the Swiss Monte Carlo. However, in my opinion, if you combine all the Christmas attractions in Montreux, it has the most attractive and exciting Christmas markets and if you stand by the shore, facing the Grand Hotel Suisse, you will feel Montreux is the Monaco in Switzerland.
I have visited Montreux together with Vevey, Lavaux Vineyard, the mountain Rochers de Naye and Chillon Castle. I have to say the sunset in Montreux is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and it will be the unforgettable experience of my whole life. If you are interested in what to do or what to see in and around Montreux, please click here to read my previous post “Chillon Castle & Montreux Sunset”, here to read my previous post “Montreux & Rochers de Naye”, or here to read my previous post “Lavaux Vineyard & Vevey”.
In this post I’ll focus on the Christmas markets, which includes the opening hours, unmissable attractions, activities, tips, suggestions and etc. I’ll list them in the form of bullet points so that it’s easier and faster for you to read. I’ll attach the photos of specific markets right after the bullet points so that you have a more direct understanding and you can decide whether you are interested or not. The info I provide below is a combination of the info from the SBB website (if available) and my own visiting experience. and I’ll provide a link to the SBB website by the end if you are interested in the RailAway Combined Offer benefits and prices.
As I said before, there are in total 6 Christmas attractions in Montreux, which makes it the most special and exciting Christmas city not only for children, but also for adults and older people. The attractions are: The Christmas Market, The Elves’ Village, The Lumberjack Village, The Magic Garden, Medieval Enchantement and The Santa Claus House. The Christmas Market, the Lumberjack Village, and the Magic Garden are in one area so you can visit them all at once. However, the Santa Claus House is on the mountain Rochers de Naye, Medieval Enchantement is in the courtyard of Chillon Castle and the Elves’ Village is in the garden of Casino Barrière.
Considering there are so many attractions, I’ll list the general opening hours, locations, activities, tips, suggestions etc. first and then specific info of each attraction one by one (if there is any) and attach the pictures (if available) with each attraction so you won’t feel confused. The website of the Christmas in Montreux is actually very user friendly and I suggest you have a look. (www.montreuxnoel.com)
1. Christmas in Montreux
- Montreux Christmas market is open from 24th November to 24th December 2016.
- Opening hours of artisans & merchants: Monday to Thursday, 11a.m. – 8p.m.; Friday, 11a.m. – 10p.m.; Saturday, 10a.m. – 10p.m.; Sunday, 10a.m. – 8p.m.
- Opening hours of food & beverage: Monday to Thursday, 11a.m. – 10p.m.; Friday, 11a.m. – 11p.m.; Saturday, 10a.m. – 11p.m.; Sunday, 10a.m. – 10p.m.
- When you reach Montreux train station, go down to the shore and that’s the entrance of the Christmas market.
- The Magic garden is also located at the entrance of the Christmas market, in front of the Grand Hotel Suisse. Every hour after nightfall there will be light show in the magic garden.
- The Christmas market starts approximately in front of the Grand Hotel Suisse-Majestic and finishes a little further than the Ferris Wheel and the Freddie Mercury statue.
- On the way in the Christmas market along the shore, you will see an arch telling you you are about to enter the Lumberjack village. If you feel cold it’s a good opportunity for you to enter one of the chalets and have a cup of Christmas tea with or without rum to warm yourself up.
- There is occasionally competition between lumberjacks cutting the woods and it’s really really loud. If you pass by and are interested you can stop by to have a look. Just follow the loud noise and you won’t miss it.
- Next to the Ferris Wheel and the Freddie Mercury statue, it’s the Marché de Noël Montreux and it’s definitely worth a visit.
- 160 illuminated and decorated chalets add the festive atmosphere to the city.
- One highlight so special and unique that you should never miss is “Father Christmas with his sleigh“, daily at 5 p.m., 6p.m. and 7 p.m. on the shores of Lake Geneva in Montreux. Santa Claus will “fly” on the shore of Lake Geneva waving at the visitors.
- The Santa Claus House is on the mountain Rochers de Naye, Medieval Enchantement is in the courtyard of Chillon Castle and the Elves’ Village is in the garden of Casino Barrière.
- New in 2016: workshops for children and circus performances at the “Village des Lutins” (in the garden of Casino Barrière).
- Admission to Chillon Castle is not included in the offer and you must purchase this at your railway station in advance.
- The RailAway Combined Offer gives you 30% reduction on the public transport journey to Montreux and back, 30% reduction on a souvenir cup in the Christmas market and 30% reduction on a mulled wine or tea (RailAway voucher to redeem at the pretzel stand in the covered market hall). It costs 65 CHF departing from Zürich HB with half-price card.
- For more info about SBB RailAway Combined Offer please click here.
- For more info about the Christmas market in Montreux please contact by phone 021 965 24 12 or visit the website. (www.montreuxnoel.ch)
2. Pictures of Christmas in Montreux
As I mentioned above, I’ll attach the pictures (if available) according to different Christmas attractions in Montreux and add a bit more specific practical info (if available) that I didn’t mention about certain attractions. As for the pictures, I’ll probably attach the night ones first and then the day ones because I think the night pictures represent the Christmas atmosphere more.
2.1 Christmas market
By the way, there was a shop that caught my attention immediately and the stuff there is really amazing. So exquisite and elegant, but a bit expensive. If you are interested you can have a look.
- Musical entertainment under the Covered Market and wandering musicians
- 160 artisans and merchants
- Culinary specialities
- Big Ferris wheel
- Flofi, the mascot (have your picture taken with him free of charge on weekends)
- For more info about the Christmas market such as bars and restaurants please click here.
2.2 Magic garden
From 24 November to 24 December, every hour after nightfall, the Magic Garden will come alive to the rhythm of a sound and light show. (Music and blinking of the lights)
2.3 Lumberjack village
It’s located in the Christmas market and it’s easy to notice when you see the sign shown as the first picture in this section.
There are various food and beverages in this village. For example, Lumberjack tea; Pizzas; Pretzels & mulled wine; Aperitif platters; Foie gras; Fondue made with Vaud, controlled designation of origin, Gruyère cheese; Vaud Specialities; Game specialities (reservation required Chalet St-Hubert).
For more info about what will be hosted in the lumberjack cabin please click here.
2.4 The Elves’ village (Village des Lutins)
Activities: Gommette & Gabatcho under the big top, a circus performance with multiple daily sessions (reservation recommended); Marionette shows under the big top; The chocolate workshop, where you can; make a Christmas chocolate; The candle workshop; The face-painting workshop; The “Around the; Christmas Tree” workshop; Santa’s reindeer; The Big Abominable Snowman; The path of lights; Afternoon snack with the elves.
Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday: Noon – 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (8th and 9th December: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. 24th December: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
- Children from 4 to 16 years of age and adults (children under 4 years: Free): CHF 15. (Includes entrance to the village and one 45-minute circus show (reserve your seats), a visit to Santa’s reindeer, the igloo with the Big Abominable Snowman and various games.)
- 15-minute marionette show (children and adults): CHF 5.
- Chocolate-making, “Around the Christmas tree”, face painting and candle-making workshops: CHF 8 per workshop
For making reservation for the circus and more info such as how to get there please click here.
2.5 Medieval Enchantement (Chillon Castle)
Activities: Performances in the castle by the magical characters, jugglers and fire-throwers of the Compagnie Makadam; Christmas tales told by the shepherd accompanied by his sheep; Medieval music and dances by the Les Pieds Gauches troupe; Beeswax candle-making workshop and presentation of bee-hive products; Small Fairies Market with craft stands and local products; Letter writing to Father Christmas in his office; Medieval refreshments prepared by Le Pot des Cieux; Temporary exhibition “Magic Mountains, works by Daniel Frank”.
Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday 3th-4th, 10th-11th and 17th-18th December from 10:00 to 17:00 (last entry at 16:00).
- Entrance adults: CHF 15 (as of 16 years of age)
- Entrance children: CHF 6 (as of 6 years of age)
- Family package (2 adults + children): CHF 35
2.6 The Santa Claus House (Rochers de Naye)
I’ve been to Rochers de Naye last time I visited Montreux and I think the Santa Claus House is more for children so I didn’t go there this time. If you just wanna visit the mountain please take a look at my previous post “Montreux & Rochers de Naye”. However, if you have children, I think this is also a good opportunity to spend some quality family time together.
Opening hours: from 24th November to 24th December 2016, every day except Mondays and Tuesdays. Reservations required (limited unnumbered seats). Please click here to make a reservation.
Location: Located in a grotto inside the Rochers-de-Naye mountain, Santa’s house is at the terminus of the Montreux–Les Rochers-de-Naye rail line, at an altitude of 2,042 metres. The train departs from Montreux every hour from 9.15 a.m. to 3.15 p.m. except Mondays and Tuesdays.
Activities: Meeting with the real Santa Claus; Surprise gift; Face-painting; Original certificate from Santa Claus; Magical characters and enchanted decor; Drawing contest.
Cog railway trip from Montreux + entrance:
- Adults (as of 16 years old): CHF 39. With GA travelcard or day card (as of 16 years old): CHF 20
- Children (from 6 to 16 years old): CHF 19. With GA travelcard or day card (from 6 to 16 years old): CHF 10
- The junior card is not valid.
- Free for children under 6 years old
Special price on Thursdays (except Thursday 8 December):
- Adults (as of 16 years old): CHF 22. With GA travelcard or day card (as of 16 years old) CHF 15
- Children (from 6 to 16 years old) CHF 12. With GA travelcard or day card (from 6 to 16 years old) CHF 7
- The junior card is not valid.
If you are interested in packages such as “Exclusive evenings with Santa Claus” please click here to know more about this offer.
I guess you have already noticed, this might be the longest post about the Christmas markets in Switzerland. That’s because there are really so many things to do in Montreux during Christmas season. The local authorities really turned this city into a magical world. If you don’t wanna be in a hurry, why not staying over for one or two nights? There is so much to see in and around Montreux.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!