Swiss Winter Markets, Part 2: By Night
The excitement of the winter markets doesn’t necessarily have to end at 11am when the Market Police show up, making sure that no more goodies are exchanged (it’s true, read about it here!). All throughout Switzerland and in other European countries, this is prime time for Christmas markets – markets that go on all day long and well into the evening too. Just think how magical, once it gets dark – colorful lights twinkling on and off, trees sparkling with ornaments and decorations… and you taking it all in, with cold hands cupped around warm mugs of Glühwein or hot cocoa.
Zürich’s main train station holds Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market for the 16th year. Swarovski steals the show once again with its 15m (50 foot) tree and 6,000 crystals. The tree is stunning and a real mouth-opener from afar; it almost appears to be covered in snow – with all the crystals and spotlights around. But be sure to get up close (you might have to elbow your way in a bit) and see all the small crystal figurines. Green mini Christmas trees and all sorts of animals, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, and my personal favorite, a new addition this year: mini cows in different colors, with bells around their necks (below right). (See last year’s post for more pictures of the tree and market.)
You’re in the right place if you arrive at the market with an appetite. I just hope the lines aren’t too long for Raclette, crêpes and Glühwein. You can grab a bag of Christmas cookies here, some typical Swiss carnival fare over there or try a few exotic tastes at the non-Christmasy stands as well (too many of these in my opinion). And while no Swiss event or fair is complete without Raclette, you can be sure to find a generous selection of sausages too.
The best thing to do is simply walk up and down the aisles, peaking into as many of the 160 stands as you choose. Wooden trinkets, baking molds, holiday gift ideas and all sorts of Christmas cookies and cakes, including Stollen. You’ll see beautiful Suter-Züri Tirggel – traditional Christmas cookies from Zürich, made with honey. And you’ll see heart shaped gingerbread cookies that say “Ich liebe Dich” (I love you) in icing on them, like you see throughout Germany too. There’s something for everyone.
Above you can see my favorite part of the market, a stand just packed with gorgeously hand-carved wooden soldiers and other toys. Spielwarenmacher Günter’s stand is one of the (physically) largest attractions at the market, as you can see above right. I spent so much time there just appreciating each wooden object, the beautiful details and real workmanship behind it all; they’ve been in the business since 1914 after all. Not to be missed.
Anyone visiting a Christmas market this year? Or have a favorite from years past?
Miss Swiss Winter Markets, Part 1: By Day ? Read it here.Zürcher Christkindlimarkt Hauptbahnhof, Zürich?s Main Train Station Switzerland November 27 to December 24 Monday to Friday: 11am to 9pm; Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 8pm www.christkindlimarkt.ch