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Winter in Geneva

des personnes faisant du patin à glace sur les quais.

From the Geneva Lux festival to the Fête de l’Escalade and the end-of-year festivities, Geneva dons its best suit of lights and is always in festive mood, despite the cold. Discover a selection of indoor and outdoor activities, unusual events or convivial festivals organised throughout the winter in the City of Geneva.

 

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Une installation lumineuse qui fait partie du festival Genevalux 2017

Geneva lux, the festival of lights in Geneva

From 24 January to 2 February, Geneva shines bright thanks to Geneva Lux, which invites artists to create light installations specially designed for the occasion. Coloured or monochromatic, figurative or abstract, minimalist or opulent, these works of art create a new circuit through the city.

 

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Un jeune homme costumé tient une torche lors du défilé historique de l'Escalade qui se tient chaque année

Festivities of l'Escalade

December is also a time of tradition, with the Fête de l’Escalade and its events focusing on the historic date of 12 December, commemorating the victory of Geneva over an attack by the Duchy of Savoy in 1602. To celebrate the occasion, you can enjoy soup and mulled wine around the city while admiring all types of parade, with people wearing medieval costumes and children dressed up and singing the hymn of Geneva, “Cé qu'è lainô”. This weekend of festivities is preceded by the Course de l’Escalade, bringing together inhabitants of all ages who brave the cold and fill the streets, either to run the race or to cheer on the participants.

 

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Christmas markets

A not-to-be-missed opportunity to plunge into the magical and colourful world of Advent, the Christmas markets spring up all around Geneva with their wooden stands or chalets selling a thousand and one craft objects, their garlands of fairy lights, their mulled wine and the unmistakable smell of cinnamon. You can also find the ideal tree, sold by nurseries and producers on the Christmas tree markets scattered around the city.

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Des personnes fêtent l'arrivée de la nouvelle année sur le quai du Mont-Blanc

New Year’s Eve

On the evening of 31 December, free events are unfailingly organised by the municipality. While the programme is renewed each year, the common thread of this convivial event remains eclectic music offerings performed on several stages as well as the firework display that lights up the winter sky on the stroke of midnight.

Réveillon de la solidarité

On the very same evening, the Plainpalais community hall invites people in need or living on their own to celebrate the turn of the year with a tombola, a festive meal and music during the Réveillon de la solidarité.

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L'atmoshpère du festival Antigel

Atypical festivals

In Geneva’s busy cultural agenda, January marks the opening of two festivals that are as prestigious as they are atypical. Black Movie shines the spotlight on international cinema d’auteur with screenings of films which more often than not fall through the net of mainstream cinema. The Antigel festival combines music, dance and performance art, fostering the unusual nature of its offerings, in particular in terms of the venues adopted by the event.

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Des plantes qui peuvent être observées au jardin botanique de Genève

Exoticism at the Conservatory and Botanical Garden

To get away from the winter weather and enjoy a temporary change of climate, why not visit the greenhouses of the Botanical Conservatory and Garden. Under these elegant glass shelters, visitors can admire the most unusually-shaped plants, experience the oppressive humidity of the tropics and, upon prior request, discover a number of carnivorous plants. A number of temporary and permanent exhibitions as well as interactive visits available via smartphone extend the pleasures of your botanical exploration.

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Des jeunes s'amusent sur les patinoires à ciel ouvert

Winter sports in the city

For fans of sliding sports, the City installs several ice rinks during the winter. Seasonal ice rinks can be found in Parc des Bastions and in les Charmilles, offering free access and events; skate rental costs CHF 2. The indoor ice rink in les Vernets is also open to the public, offering longer opening hours on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10.30 p.m., unless a special event is scheduled.

Once a month, from November to February, the discos on ice will have you strutting your stuff from 7.30 p.m. to midnight, with music and rink-side bar.

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Quelques personnes courageuses se baignent en plein hiver aux bains des Pâquis

Winter swimming

For fans of the Bains des Pâquis

In addition to the visitors who come to savour a fondue while enjoying the view over the lake, more and more winter swimmers come to swim at the Bains des Pâquis, whatever the weather.


For fans of the Coupe de Noël

In December, courageous souls brave the glacial cold of Lake Geneva to participate in the Coupe de Noël, the world’s biggest cold water race, swimming 120 metres along the promenade of the Jardin Anglais in water temperatures varying between 5° and 10°C. The public are more than welcome to come and support this extraordinary event held in a festive atmosphere.

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Des personnes font de la luge sur les rives gelées de la rade de Genève

Major events during the winter

Discover all the not-to-be-missed events in Geneva during the winter as well as the events and happenings in the city’s online diary.

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Article modifié le 08.06.2020 à 11:57