Christmas in Zurich

December is a lovely month to be in Zurich.

Zürich really knows how to do Christmas.  All the main streets are hung with Christmas lights, ceremoniously illuminated in mid-November, every commercial building (and many residential buildings) are decorated for Christmas.  In the early weeks of December there are Christmas markets in all the major plazas – each with dozens of stalls selling seasonal foods, decorations, and beautiful handicrafts.  One platz has a “singing Christmas tree” – a tiered riser, decorated with evergreen boughs to look like a Christmas tree, on which choral groups stand to sing Christmas carols.  Along the lakeshore, an artist installed a Friedenslicht (peace light) that flickers in the lake breeze.  And every café places sheepskin and fleece blankets on their outdoor chairs, so visitors can snuggle while enjoying glüewein or hot chocolate.  We took many strolls about town, exploring these sights and smells.  On Christmas morning, I walked up to my usual viewpoint, then down through town, along the central avenue to the lakeshore, then back through the narrow alleys of old town.  The churches – so numerous – all with their belltowers ringing, called parishioners to morning services.  Lovely!  We finished the day with a fine dinner at the Dolder Grand Hotel – wow.  See the full gallery.

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Christmas lights

I went to watch the city of Zurich celebrate the onset of the Christmas season.

At this particular time on this particular day, the city of Zürich turns on all its Christmas lights and the Christmas markets officially open.  Throngs of people turned out for this much-anticipated event, packed shoulder-to-shoulder on Bahnhofstrasse, the central avenue. The photo below shows the moment after the lights came on, with the crowd cheering and the people in the verandas at upper left setting off confetti crackers.  The smell of heiss marroni (roasted chestnuts) and glüwein (mulled wine) wafted by, and the shops were handing out free glasses of champagne or live music indoors. A very festive evening… see the short gallery – with video!

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