Glühwein, Raclette, Crêpes and 6,000 Swarovski Crystals
No Christmas market here in Switzerland would be complete without mulled wine (Glühwein in German, vin chaud in French), Raclette (Swiss cheese melted under a grill and scraped off onto a slice of bread), and crêpes. That’s especially the case at Zürich’s Hauptbahnhof, the city’s main train station, where you’ll find the largest indoor Christmas market in all of Europe. Both traditional and festive aromas waft up and down the spacious rows – cheese, sausage, gingerbread, anise, sugar, more cheese, and oh that Glühwein. You are never more than a few stands away from a huge vat of hot, spiced red wine. Nor are you ever out of view of the Christmas tree near the entrance to the station.
That might have to do with the fact that it’s a 50 foot (15 meter) tall Christmas tree, decorated with 6,000 Swarovski crystals, each one glistening all day and night, as commuters hop on and off their trains, and tourists and locals alike gather around to take pictures. The Austrian crystal company is certainly busy this time of year – they decorated Christmas trees all over the world (click here to see the 15 locations), including Mexico City, Dubai, Australia and New York City, the latter having an original Swarovski creation: a 9 foot (3 meter) diameter, 550 pound (250 kilogram) star that tops the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree each year. Here in Zürich, you can only but stare in awe at the amount of crystals hanging as ornaments from the tree and on stands encircling it. Animals, storybook characters, stars and shapes of all kinds. It’s truly a sight to see.
You certainly can spend a great deal of time admiring the details that went into decorating this massive tree. But save some time for the market stalls themselves! There, you can zigzag about, checking out Swiss culinary specialties, Christmas decorations, wooden toys and handwoven hats and scarves, without forgetting your most interesting array of random doodads.
If you can’t make it to the market, feel free to browse the stands below. Enjoy!Zürcher Christkindlimarkt Hauptbahnhof, Zürich’s Main Train Station Switzerland November 28 to December 24 Monday to Friday: 11am to 9pm; Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 8pm Special Christmas night shopping on Monday, December 22: 11am to 10pm www.christkindlimarkt.ch