Hello everyone! I actually finished this post before Christmas but due to several reasons, I didn’t post it. I’d like to post it now, but if you wanna experience it, I’m afraid you will have to wait for next year. However, I do hope this post reminds you of your happy Christmas time in Zürich if you were here. If not, it will only be better next year. 🙂
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.
You must be thinking, since I live in Zürich, why don’t I visit the Christmas markets in Zürich and write about it first? Hmmmm, First of all, it’s because I wanted to explore all the Christmas markets in Zürich first and then write a detailed post about them. The pictures I took are from several days. Secondly, it’s because I wanted to write about the Christmas markets which are gonna close earlier first, and then the Christmas markets which are gonna be open till later.
Of course, I guess you have seen quite some post of mine about Zürich already. The mountains, the churches, the city, the museums, the gardens etc. If you wanna ask, which city I explored in Switzerland the most, and which city I wrote about the most, it will undoubtedly be Zürich. Why? Because I live here. You can either check the travel catalogue or events catalogue, and you will know a lot of things to do in Zürich.
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 the general info at first in the form of bullet points so that it’s easier and faster for you to read. I’ll attach the photos of each market separately after the general info so that you have a more direct understanding and you can decide whether you are interested or not. I shall attach the pictures at night first because I think they look more christmasy and the day ones after them. If there is anything you need to know in particular about certain markets or events, I’ll list them after the pictures of them. 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.
1. Christmas in Zürich
- The two big Christmas markets in Zürich are Christkindlimarkt and Wienachtsdorf, which are located in the main train station (Zürich HB) and at the Sechseläutenplatz in front of the Opera House.
- The Christkindlimarkt is open from 24th November 2016 to 16.00, Saturday 24th December 2016. It’s open from Sunday to Wednesday, 10.30 to 21.00, and Thursday to Saturday, 10.30 to 22.00.
- The Wienachtsdorf is open from 24th November to 23rd December 2016. The stands are open from Mon–Sat 11.00–22.00 and on Son till 20.00. The chalet is open from Mo–Do: 11.00–23.00 and Fri+Sat: till 24.00 and Son till 22.00. The ice rink is open from Mon–Fri from 9.00 and Sat+Son from 11.00.
- At the Christkindlimarkt in Zürich HB, the highlights are: large glittering Swarovski Christmas tree with around 7,000 crystal ornaments, Christmas light show (featuring Italy and Switzerland) everyday after nightfall, Emmental chalet and visit of Santa Claus.
- At the Wienachtsdorf the highlights are: ice rink against the backdrop of the Opera House, nostalgic children’s carousel and programme of children’s activities.
- You can get glühwein in all the markets, but in Christkindlimarkt in Zürich HB you can get the glühwein served in souvenir mugs of Zürich. You need to pay a deposit of 3 CHF and afterwards you can either return the mug to get the deposit back or keep the mug.
- Don’t forget to check out the platform on the east end of the Christkindlimarkt. You can go up and enjoy an overview of the whole Christmas market.
- If you are interested in the SBB RailAway Combined Offer, it gives you 20% discount (10% within ZVV) on the public transport journey to Zurich main station and back. 30% discount on a portion of raclette on bread with a 50 cl soft drink (RailAway voucher to be redeemed at the Zurich Christkindlimarkt in the raclette hut, stand no. 155, “Grosis Öpfelhüsli”) and 30% discount on a mulled wine or tea (RailAway voucher to be redeemed at the Christmas village at the big chalet at the main bar in front of the Christmas tree). Please click here to know more info or buy the tickets.
- If you are interested in the events in Christkindlimarkt in Zürich HB, please click here and type in your location and date and you will see what will be happening during that day.
- If you are interested in the events in Wienachtsdorf, please click here to check them.
- It takes only 15-20 mins to walk from the Christkindlimarkt in Zürich HB to Wienachtsdorf, I suggest that you take a walk on the Bahnhofstrasse because the lights (Lucy) on Bahnhofstrasse are also an unmissable highlight during the Christmas time in Zürich.
- Don’t forget to check out the ice rink in the inner courtyard of the Landesmuseum (National Museum) close to Zürich HB. It is said to be the most romantic ice rink with the background of the castle towers.
- On your way, why not taking a detour to Werdmühleplatz, Rennweg, Lintheschergasse, or Niederdorfstrasse. There are small Christmas markets there and remember, at Werdmühleplatz, there is the famous Singing Christmas Tree and I’ll provide more info after I attach the pictures about them.
- Not only the lights on Bahnhofstrasse are so eye-catching. Check out the old town and you will see Christmas is everywhere.
2. Pictures and additional info of Christmas in Zürich
2.1 Christkindlimarkt in Zürich HB
The light show and the higher platform on the east end of the Christkindlimarkt as well as the Swarovski Christmas tree is a must-visit.
2.3 The Singing Christmas Tree
- Don’t forget to check out the Singing Christmas Tree (the biggest Christmas tree in Zürich) and a small Christmas market at Werdmühleplatz.
- The Choral Performances are at 17:30 and 18:30 from Monday to Friday and at 14:30 and 15:30 / 17:30 and 18:30 on weekends.
- If you wanna check the program of the choral performance please click here.
2.4 Ice rink in the Landesmuseum
- Live on Ice is open form 26th Nov 2016 – 2nd Jan 2017.
- On Sat, 24th Dec they are open from 11.00 – 18.00.
- On Son, 25th Dec, Live on Ice is closed.
- The ice rink and the skating shoes rent are open everyday till 22.00. The restaurants are open everyday till 24.00.
- The ice rink, the skating shoes rent and the restaurants are open Mon – Fri from 16.00, Wed from 14.00, Sat & Son from 11.00. From 26th Dec they are open everyday from 11.00.
- For renting the skating shoes and children help tool: CHF 9.- / h
2.5 Small Christmas markets in front of Globus on Bahnhofstrasse, Lintheschergasse and Niederdorfstrasse
2.6 Christmas atmosphere on Bahnhofstrasse, Rennweg, and in the old town
I guess the attractions I mentioned above are enough for you to have an amazing Christmas in Zürich. However, if you have time, don’t go looking for the Christmas I found and mentioned above. Spend some time and have a walk in the old town, I believe you will discover the hidden Christmas corner that I’ve missed.
Marry Christmas and Happy New Year!