With the precision of Swiss timing, at exactly 18:00, the Christmas lights floating above the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich suddenly glow and twinkle like a cluster of diamonds sparkling in the night-time sky. Befittingly, the lights are named “Lucy”, after the hit Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. The crowd below gasp in unison before cheering and clapping; the annual switching on of the Christmas lights heralds the start of the Christmas festivities, and the celebrations commence with warming cups of Glühwein, or Apfelpunsch for the little ones, offered by the stores lining the main street.
Live bands charge the air with energy and we find ourselves enjoying a rare display of American country music at a stage near Paradeplatz. Down the street, the childrens’ choir form the Singing Christmas Tree, performing classic Christmas carols in Swiss German.
The arrival of Lucy also signals the opening of some of the Christmas markets in Zurich. One of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe is held inside the Zurich main train station, with some 150 stalls offering a wide range of wares and culinary treats.
But over by the lake and on the doorsteps of the stunning Opera House is the newly-created Zürcher Wienachtsdorf, or Zurich Christmas Village, a cluster of polished wooden huts set in a romantic and wintry wonderland, complete with a rustic fondue chalet and ice-skating rink.
Those on a mission to find the perfect Christmas gift will find carefully selected artisanal and modern handicrafts on display, many of which are produced locally in Zurich. But what is truly wowing the crowds is the gastronomic scene. Aside from the traditional Swiss favourites, visitors can find an international smorgasbord from steamed Tibetan dumplings to fragrant bowls of Vietnamese Pho (served in large polystyrene cups for street-food ease). My son is a big fan of the vanilla cream donuts, and what I’m loving at the moment are the Apfelchüechli – apple rings deep-fried in a crisp batter and tossed generously with cinnamon sugar. I think there will be lots of joyous eating in the lead up to Christmas this year!
Having visited the Christmas markets in France, Germany and Austria, I must say that Zurich plays host to possibly the best Christmas markets in all of Europe ❤️
To find out more, head over to Khoollect to read my piece on the Zurich Christmas markets and to view more photos.