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.
I went to this city with long history in March this year for the first time and I fell in love with its abbey and the library. Since 1983 the whole remaining abbey precinct has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Abbey Library of Saint Gall was founded by Saint Othmar, the founder of the Abbey of St. Gall. The library collection is the oldest in Switzerland, and is one of earliest and most important monastic libraries in the world. It holds 2,100 manuscripts dating back to the 8th through the 15th centuries, 1,650 incunabula (printed before 1500), and old printed books.
If you wanna know more about the attractions in St. Gallen please click here to read my previous post about it “St. Gallen – A City Founded in the 7th Century”.
In this post I’ll focus on the Christmas market, 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.
After the introduction to the Christmas markets I’ll show you a bit more about the city of St. Gallen, in addition to the previous post about it I published before.
1. Suggestion and tips for celebrating Christmas in St. Gallen
- The three main markets are on Marketplatz (C on the map above), at Bohl (B on the map above) and in the Waaghaus (A on the map above) (This one is indoor, so if you feel cold I suggest this is the right place for you to warm up).
- The three Christmas markets are open from 24th November to 24th December.
- Opening hours of the Goods stands: Monday to Friday, 11.00 – 19.00. Thursday (night shopping), 11.00 – 21.00. Saturday, 11.00 – 18.00. Sunday, 11.00 – 18.00. 24th December, 09.00 – 16.00.
- Opening hours of the Food and beverage stands: Monday to Friday, 11.00 – 20.00. Thursday (night shopping), 11.00 – 21.30. Saturday, 11.00 – 19.00. Sunday, 11.00 – 19.00. 24th December, 09.00 – 16.00.
- One of the highlights of the Christmas market in St. Gallen is the 700 shimmering stars in the historical alleyways. (The yellow area you can see from the map above)
- There’s also a Giant Christmas tree in front of the cathedral.
- From 9.00 to 17.00 pm on 26th November and 3rd December 2016, exhibitors sell their lovingly crafted handcrafts at around 120 decorated stands on Gallusplatz (D on the map above).
- If you are interested in the RailAway Combined Offer, it gives you 30% reduction on the public transport journey to St. Gallen SBB and back, 30% reduction on a mulled wine or tea, including a special Christmas market cup and 30% reduction on a bratwurst with bread. It costs 31.8 CHF departing from Zürich HB with Half-price card.
- You can redeem your RailAway voucher at the Chlaus snack stall on the Neugasse.
- You can click here to download a brochure of what happens during 2016 Christmas season in St. Gallen and it includes all the info you need to know about visiting it.
- If you are interested in Christmas-themed city tours in St. Gallen, please click here.
- For more info about the events happening everyday, please click here.
- If you are interested in Christmas-themed dining experience, please click here.
- For more info about the Christmas market please contact the official tourism office by phone 071 227 37 37 or visit the websites. (www.sternenstadt.ch; www.st.gallen-bodensee.ch)
2. Pictures of the Christmas markets in St. Gallen
3. St. Gallen attractions in addition to my previous post
As I’ve mentioned above, if you also wanna explore the city in addition to the Christmas markets in St. Gallen, please click here to read my previous post “St. Gallen – A City Founded in the 7th Century” about the tourist attractions in this city. In addition, I visited some attractions (some of them I did, some of them I didn’t visit in my previous trip) while it was still too bright for the Christmas markets, so maybe you can also think about visiting these sites on your trip.
Except the Peter and Paul wildlife park and Kirche St. Laurenzen I mentioned in my previous post, I strongly recommend that you should visit the St. Gallen cathedral and Abbey Library of Saint Gall as well as a walk in the old town.
3.1 St. Gallen cathedral
St. Gallen cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in the city of St. Gallen in Switzerland. It has been the cathedral of the Diocese of St Gallen since 1847 and is part of the Abbey of St. Gall.
When I first got in, I was so surprised that a church could be so delicate and majestic at the same time. It even kind of reminded me of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. According to Switzerland Tourism, the cathedral is open all year round and it’s free to visit.
3.2 Abbey Library of Saint Gall
- baroque hall with exhibition: Monday to Sunday: 10:00 – 17:00.
- For more info about special opening and closing time please click here.
- Baroque hall & Lapidarium: Adults: CHF 12.- per person.
- For more info about reduced prices and group tickets please click here.
Unfortunately you can’t take pictures in the library but I can assure you it’s an amazing library and if you wanna see how wonderful it is, you can google some pictures online or look at my previous post about some pictures I took of the postcards.
3.3 Mühlen (View of the whole city and as far as Lake Konstanz)
This is a route the tourist office recommended me to take to gain a good view of the whole city. You can either a funicular train from Mühlegg Talstation and it costs around 2-3 CHF or walk up to Mühlegg, which take around 15-20 mins. I took the hiking route and I think it’s rather quiet and peaceful. I suggest you hike on the Dreilindenweg and when you walk towards east you will see three lakes on your right side. From this small path, you will be able to see St. Gallen from high above and if in good weather, you will see Bodensee afar. The locals are very friendly. If you have any questions or problems you can ask them in English, and they will try their best to help you. On the way, at least 3 grandmas tried to help in English when I looked confused. I was really surprised how nice they are.
If you are interested in Peter and Paul wildlife park, Kirche St. Laurenzen, or what’s in the old town, please read my previous post about St. Gallen.
Marry Christmas and Happy New Year in the city of stars!