Still not getting that cosy Christmas feeling? Try a trip out to St Gallen. Renowned across Switzerland – and beyond – for its atmospheric seasonal light displays, the eastern city has a mega-festive line-up of markets, concerts, guided walks, chocolatey excess and more that’s guaranteed to fill you with Christmas cheer. Here's our pick of the best things to do…
If there’s one thing that truly makes St Gallen a special place to hang out at Christmas time, it’s its AllerStern festive lights. Seven hundred stars shining high over the streets and squares of the city create an enchanting display that many regard as the most beautiful in Switzerland. And don’t forget the centrepiece of the spectacle, the towering 20-metre Christmas tree in the Klosterplatz whose thousands of twinkling lights only add to the magic. Until Dec 24. Free.
What better way to summon that festive feeling than a stroll round the city’s charming Christmas market? Spanning 70 delightfully decorated Swiss gabled cottages, it’s bursting with high-quality handicrafts, including seasonal decorations, jewellery, local textiles, wooden toys, candles and other gift ideas. After you’ve done your browsing and buying, warm up with a glass of mulled wine and a bite of delicious St Gallen Bratwurst. Waaghaus/Bohl/Marktgasse. Daily until Dec 24. Free.
Really want to get into the St Gallen Christmas spirit? Try joining one of the special city walks on offer throughout December. Learn facts and stories about the local festive season while sipping mulled wine on the daily Christmas Guided Tour, while the Christmas Tasting Tour on December 15 not only explores the city’s festive customs, but also provides St Gallen seasonal specialties to sample. With an atmospheric torchlight ramble through the historic Mühlenen Gorge on New Year’s Eve adding to the line-up, there's every chance to go walking in a winter wonderland. Tours depart St.Gallen-Bodensee Tourismus, Stiftsbezirk, Bankgasse 9. Various dates. CHF18-43.
What key ingredient would Christmas not be the same without? Chocolate, of course! It’s a subject they know more than a thing or two about over at Maestrani’s Chocolarium. Combine a visit to the St Gallen chocolate factory with a Christmas chocolate-making course and get the chance to mould and decorate your own chocolate Santa or festive bar with help from an expert guide. There's surely no sweeter gift around. Maestrani's Chocolarium, Toggenburgerstrasse 41, Flawil in St Gallen. Various dates. CHF30-40, CHF25-20 aged 8-16.
Part of the Unesco-listed Abbey District, St Gallen’s striking baroque cathedral is a major symbol of the city. Get the inside view at one of its free ‘Abendmusik im Advent’ Christmas concerts on Monday evenings, designed to encourage a spot of seasonal meditation and reflection. On December 17 organist Willibald Guggenmos will be joined by the cathedral choir for a program of festive pieces. St Gallen Cathedral. Mon Dec 17, 6.30pm. Free.
For more things to do around St Gallen and the Lake Constance region this December, visit https://st.gallen-bodensee.ch/en