Zurich Christmas Village in Wienachtsdorf.

Christmas markets and New Year’s parties cancelled: how festive will Switzerland be this year?

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Time Out editors
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Christmas across Switzerland is already looking like a very different picture in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has quashed countless planned events already this year, and that theme looks like it’ll continue over the festive period.

One particularly symbolic cancellation was that of Geneva’s famous New Year’s Eve party, which normally takes place around lakeside areas, in particular the Quai du Mont-Blanc, with fireworks, music, food and a thoroughly jolly atmosphere throughout. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this year the event has been scrapped due to coronavirus concerns.

Here’s what the City Council’s website says about it: “In light of the rapid evolution of the health situation and the major uncertainties concerning the coming months … the City feels that it has no option but to cancel the 2020 edition of the New Year’s Eve Party.”

The statement also points out that “it would be impossible to ensure compliance with … protective gestures,” such as wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing.

The recent cancellation of Montreux Christmas Market, one of the largest of its kind in Switzerland, could well be the first of many similar Xmas market announcements. The market’s director, Yves Cornaro, confirmed the cancellation in an interview with 24 Heures, explaining that the risk of holding a large event with hundreds of thousands of people was simply too great. However, Cornaro also stressed in the interview that there will still be a “friendly atmosphere” in the area over Christmas, with “lights, the Ferris wheel, gastronomic spaces”.

The 24 Heures article also mentions that the fate of this year’s Bô Noël market in Lausanne is similarly uncertain. The manager, Florian Schmied, is quoted as saying there will be a “different version” of the market, probably with fewer food stands and – brace yourselves – no bar.

Before we all start ripping out the December page of our calendars and weeping, let’s remember that none of this means there won’t still be a festive atmosphere and probably various Christmas goings-on taking place – just that whatever does happen will likely be on a very scaled-down basis for everyone concerned. Because, 2020 – right?

Watch this space for news and updates on what is and isn’t happening across Switzerland over Christmas and New Year. And why not make the most of the time before winter sets in with our guide to the best things to do in Switzerland this autumn.

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