Fête de l'Escalade 2023

Between costumes, games and chocolate cauldrons, come and celebrate l’Escalade. In addition to the grand historical parade and the festivities organised by the Compagnie 1602, several visits and activities will take place to celebrate these two special days.

At the beginning of December, Geneva comes to life to celebrate one of the days of the year young people most look forward to: the Fête de l'Escalade. 

Custom dictates that children and secondary school pupils dress up and parade through the streets.

In addition to the large-scale historical parade and the festivities organised in the old town by the Compagnie 1602, several popular events will also be held for the occasion. Here is a brief overview:

To recreate the atmosphere

personnes en costume tenant des torches

Grand parade and historical scenes in the old town

From 9 to 10 December, old town

From 9 to 10 December in the old town, the Compagnie 1602 recreates daily life in Geneva at the end of the 16th century. Halberdiers, arquebusiers, horsemen and historical characters parade through the streets in medieval costume. Demonstrations of musket fire, canon fire and handling a halberd are also organised.

From 5 p.m. on Sunday 10 December, don’t miss the grand historical parade of l’Escalade, involving some 800 costumed volunteers both on foot and on horseback, leaving from Parc des Bastions. The full programme is available on the Compagnie 1602 website: parades.

personne en costume dans une galerie, éclairée par la lumière d'une torche

Visit to the secret Passage de Monetier

9 and 10 December, rue du Perron 19

Take advantage of the unique opportunity offered by the celebration of l’Escalade to discover the Passage de Monetier, which is closed by a gate every other day of the year. The vestige of a path that led under the walls at the end of the 5th century, it is one of the more or less secret pathways that allowed the city’s defenders to reach their combat positions quickly. Entrance rue du Perron 19, Saturday 9 (from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Passage lit by torch from 5 p.m.) and Sunday 10 (from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).


personne en armure

In the shoes of a soldier at the time of l’Escalade

From 28 November 2023 to 07 January 2024

Plunge into the atmosphere of l’Escalade at la Maison Tavel between the scales, firecrackers, armour and cauldrons. Discovery modules, installed on the 1st floor, will even give you the chance to try a helmet on or wield a sword.


personnes se battant et femme penchée à sa fenêtre

Relive the night of l’Escalade in images

From 4 December 2023 to 6 January 2024, BGE

To enjoy a foretaste or prolong the festivities a little, visit the Couloir des coups d’œil at the BGE library to see the most striking images of the famous night of 11-12 December 1602 through the illustrations of Edouard Elzingre, who shaped the imagery of this event at the beginning of last century. Guided visits on 8, 9 and 12 December. Part of the exhibition is available online on the BGE blog.


vue de nuit en veille ville avec lampions

Fancy-dress candlelit walk

8 December, old town

Relive l’Escalade by candlelight, just as the people of Geneva experienced it, in the company of the heritage guide, Catherine Hubert-Girod. Get your best clothes on and plunge into the history of Geneva!

L’Escalade told by those who lived through it

What better means of plunging into the history of the event than hearing it told by those who lived through it? With a light and slightly offbeat tone, a mini video series gives you the chance to hear the thoughts of Charles Emmanuel I, Simon Goulart and the inescapable Mère Royaume. 


To treat yourself

personnes coiffées de toques noires qui malaxent du chocolat

Making a chocolate cauldron

2, 3, 7 and 10 December

The chocolate school opens its doors and accompanies you in creating your own chocolate cauldron. Workshops will be organised on 2 December3 December, 7 December and 10 December.

gros plan sur des légumes et une cuillère qui plonge dans la soupe

Keep warm with a tasty soup

All you need are a few vegetables, a bowl and a spoon to share a convivial moment over a delicious Escalade soup! Several schools, associations, community centres and institutions will be serving soup on the occasion of l’Escalade, such as Eaux-Vives community centre (12 December) or Saint-Jean community centre (8 December). If you want to prepare Mère Royaume’s soup yourself, you can find the recipe provided by Interroge!

To have fun, with or without costume

Homme en costume avec des oreilles d'elfe, tenant un flambeau

Festivities and parade in Plainpalais

Friday 8 December, Plainpalais community centre

Come down to the school yard of Micheli-du-Crest school, the starting point for the band, and accompany the Escalade parade from 6 p.m. to Parc des Chaumettes (around 7 p.m.), taking in la Cluse and la Roseraie on the way. Mulled wine and spiced apple juice will help you warm up again when you arrive! Come in fancy dress! More info is available in the programme of the community centre (page 15) 

affiche avec petites marmites de l'Escalade en chocolat et échelles

Fête de l'Escalade in Saint-Jean

Friday 8 December, Saint-Jean community centre

Come and take part in the musical parade through the district of Saint-Jean, organised by the Saint-Jean community centre, from 6.30  p.m.. This will be followed by a show at 7.30 p.m., accompanied by soup for anyone who has brought their bowls. The rest of the evening will be given over to music and dancing from 8.15 p.m.

Dessin dd'enfants sur des échelles

Discovery circuit for children

During the night of the 11-12 December 1602, the Savoyards attacked Geneva by attempting to scale the ramparts using ladders… Children can discover what happened next at the Maison Tavel, with this fun circuit to be downloaded!

personnes en costume autour d'une marmite posée sur un foyer

The lost treasure of l’Escalade

9 and 10 December

In this game of puzzles, legend tells that during l’Escalade, the people of Geneva found a huge Savoyard treasure and hid it deep under the city. With the help of key characters from history, will you succeed in solving the puzzles to recover the treasure? 

Article modifié le 16.01.2024 à 11:35