Christmas in Zürich – Calendar of Events (2022)

Calendar of fun Christmas activities and events in Zurich, including Santa experiences for kids.

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Christmas is just around the corner and Christmas stuff starts early in Zurich. I don’t want you to miss any of it! So here’s a calendar of all the Christmas events in Zurich, particularly those for kids.

Zurich Christmas Markets

Nov 22 to Dec 23, Dec 2022

Zurich’s main markets are the Wienachtdorf Market (24.Nov to 23.Dec 2022) at Sechseläutenplatz near the Opera house and the Christkindli Market (24.Nov to 24.Dec 2022) at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof. There are also market stands in the Niederdorf old town.

See a map of all Zürich Christmas Markets and other favorite Christmas markets near Zürich

Zürich Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights in Downtown Zurich

Thurs Nov 24 2022 at 18:00

Every year, Zurich officially turns on the downtown Christmas lights at precisely 18:00 on the Thursday before the 1st Advent. This is a great time to take the kids for a stroll down the Bahnhofstrasse to get into the Christmas spirit. Also that night over 300 downtown shops are typically open late until 22:00 for shopping. Website

Illuminarium food court & light show

Nov 10 to Dec 30, 2022

For six weeks, the Swiss National Museum is transformed into a light festival, with thousands of lights covering the courtyard walls and filled with yummy food stands. The food court is free to visit, but they have been limiting the number of people inside so there is often a line at the entrance as you wait for people to leave. 

For a fee, you can attend Illuminarium, which is a light and music show projected on the outdoor walls of the museum. Learn more.

Zauberpark Zürich

Nov 25 to Dec 12, 2022

This nightly event includes lots of artistic light installations, story telling for kids, musical concerts, food and other festive elements. We went to this event in Lenzerheide and really enjoyed it! When buying tickets, check which musical artist is playing that night as that might influence your date selection.

In 2022, this light festival will be held at the Zürich Airport from 25 Nov to 12 Dec 2022. See details for Zauberpark Zurich. On most nights, you can buy a cheaper “Late Night Walk” ticket for entrance after 21:00, just to enjoy the light installations after the after the musical concert is over (CHF 19.80/adult vs CHF 40.20/adult). 

In Lenzerheide, the Zauberwald is open from 16.Dec 2022 to 4.Jan 2023. See their website for info on booking tickets for the event and special overnight packages coupled with the event. See our review of the Zauberwald Lenzerheide.

Lichterschwimmen (floating candles)

Dec 22, 2022 at 18:00

This event usually happens in the third week of December. Primary school children float hundreds of little candles down the Limmat river, starting near the Ratbrücke. More info at www.zuerich.com

Where to see Santa Claus in Zürich (aka Samichlaus)

Jemoli Märlitram (aka Samichlaus story tram)

Nov 25 to Dec 24, 2022

In December, the Jelmoli Märlitram drives kids around town while Santa and his angel helpers tell stories to children. My son went for the first time when he was 5 years old and it was pure magic. We’ve gone every year since with friends, a real special part of our Zürich Christmas experience.

Children from 4 to 10 years old may go, not accompanied by parents. The ride starts near the Zürich Bellevue tram stop and lasts about 20 mins. Learn more.

Samichlaus Parade on Bahnhofstrasse

Nov 27, 2022 at 17:00

On the first Advent at 17:00, Zürich usually has a big Christmas parade down the Zürich Bahnhofstrasse, with lots of Santas and other Christmas characters waving from floats and passing out treats. The parade starts near the Singing Christmas Tree at Werdmühleplatz and goes to Bürkliplatz near the candle dipping tent. 

See the parade route and get more tips for your visit

Photos with Santa at American Women’s Club Zürich

Dec 3 & 4, 2022

The American Women’s Club of Zurich is hosting photos with Santa at their clubhouse at Höchgasse 38 Zürich. You can reserve a time slot on either 3 or 4 Dec 2022 between 9:00-13:00 or 14:00-18:00. You need to reserve via email.

Cost for club members: CHF 30/for 1 child, CHF 35 for 2 or more children. Cost for non-members: CHF 35 for 1 child, CHF 40 for 2 or more children. Price includes photo and goodie bag. Proceeds support a charity selected by the club.

See the AWCZ website for more details.

Visit Samichlaus in the woods

2 -7 Dec 2022 from 10:00 – 16:00

Samichlaus is the German Swiss version of Santa Claus that visits children on 6. Dec. He usually visits the Kindergartens and some primary schools. Some community centers (Gemeindehaus) have him visit, but you usually need to sign up beforehand and pay a small fee. Some Swiss families hire a Samichlaus to visit their home and give personal scoldings.

Usually you can also visit Samichlaus in woods at various locations. In Zurich, Samichlaus is usually at the forest house in the Käferbergwald near Buchenggplatz during the first week of December and it’s free to visit. See their website here.

See my post with more details about Samichlaus in woods.

Zugerberg “Lichterweg” – Lantern Path

Dec 11, 2022 to Jan 8, 2023

Zugerberg is hosting an evening walk on a candle lit path leading to a nativity scene in the woods. It’s free to visit, you just need a ticket to ride the Zugerberg funicular to reach the trail. The candles are lit around 16:30 each evening. See details for the Lichterweg.

In 2021, Samichlaus made an appearance on the Lichterweg on one night. But I haven’t been able to find information about this for 2022.

St. Nicholas day – Samichlaus treats

Week leading up to Dec 6

In Switzerland, Samichlaus visits children on Dec 6, not on Christmas Eve (the Christ Child brings presents on Christmas). So you need to get your story straight if you child will be seeing other kids around the neighborhood that day and they ask what Samichlaus brought them.

Search for a local Samichlaus to visit you on www.chlaus.ch

Different families have different traditions. A lot of Swiss families hire Samichlaus to visit them at home and bring the gifts in person. Some families visit Samichaus in the woods and he doesn’t drop anything at the house later. Some families have their children leave their shoes outside their door on the on the night of Dec 5. The morning of Dec 6, they’ll find a canvas bag with peanuts, oranges, little cookies, Lebkuchen with Santa decal, and a Grittibänz (bread man, see below).

Every bakery sells Grittibänz, some very elaborate. Migros and other shops sell the bags, both empty and filled with treats, making it really easy for St. Nicholas to do his job.

In my combo-culture family, I’m always unprepared and confused what to do. My kids don’t leave out their shoes but they do wake up to a Grittibänz, a small bag of chocolate and oranges, and a pair of Christmas PJs. I also told my kids that I wrote regular Santa and told him he should still come on Dec 24 and bring his real presents then.

If you want to bake your own, see my Grittibänz – Bread Man post for a recipe and design instructions.

> More about St. Nicholas in Switzerland (German only).
> More about St. Nicholas around the world and Switzerland (in English) and ideas about how to celebrate.

Ride with Samichlaus on a steam train or boat

Sat Dec 3, 2022

This event is hosted by Radio Zürisee, which offers two Samichlaus experiences. Children can ride a vintage steam train from Zürich to the Sihlwald forest, where they meet Samichlaus and have a little celebration. Or children can ride a boat from Zürich to Halbinsel Au, where they meet Samichlaus and have a similar celebration. You return the way you came. Parents accompany the children and need their own ticket.

There are two times for the train and one for the boat. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Cost CHF 25.90 per child (ages 2-16), which includes a goodie bag. Parent tickets cost CHF 36.10. Learn more.

Music & Theater

Singing Christmas tree

Nov 24 to Dec 23, 2022

Starting at the end of November, the Singing Christmas Tree shows up on Werdmühleplatz in Zürich, off the Bahnhofstrasse opposite of Globus. It is a set of risers decorated to look like a big Christmas tree, so the performers can stand in the tree.

There is a musical program almost every evening at 17:30 and 18:30, often from local school or singing groups (not particularly professional). It’s free to attend. There are food booths near Singing Christmas Tree, selling wurst, glühwein, raclette, etc. 

See the Singing Christmas Tree online program.

Christmas Sing-along (German)

The Tonhalle Orchester Zürich hosts a Christmas choral program where you can sing along. This event is primarily designed for children.

In 2022, dates are Sun 11 Dec 2022 at 11:15 and 14:15. CHF 35/adult and CHF 10/child under 12. Only a few tickets left for the 11:15 show. See more information.

Nutcracker

The Prague Ballet is performing the Nutcracker at the Zürich Volkhaus on 17 Dec 2022. Buy tickets here.

See more Christmas concerts…

Christmas Music at the Grossmünster Zürich

The Grossmünster cathedral usually offers a Christmas Eve musical program. Entrance is free but donations are welcome. See more info.

Christmas Activities

Candle dipping, aka Kerzenziehen

Nov 12 to Dec 21, 2022

The arrival of the candle-dipping tents is the first hint that Christmas is on the horizon. Most Christmas markets and many community centers host a candle-making tent during November and December, usually with beeswax and sometimes a variety of paraffin colors.

A traditional place to go in Zürich is the tent at Bürkliplatz, which only has beeswax, not multi-color. Learn more.

See my full post on Candle Dipping 101 for more locations and tips.

Silvesterlauf

Sun Dec 11, 2022

This “new years” run happens every year in Zurich in mid-December. The course is fairly short and they have several categories for families, children and families. See the start times for each category (i.e. families, school classes, age groups, etc.)

In 2022, this run happens on Sunday 11.December. The family races start around 11:00, children at 12:00 and fun run at 18:20 so you can run with the Christmas lights all lit up. People dress in costume for the fun run, you should too!

You can register online up until Dec 4, 2022. For more info, see my Silvesterlauf article.

Ice skating

The permanent ice rinks in Zurich are generally open from beginning of October to the beginning of March. See our list of fun places to ice skate in Zurich.  On 17 Dec 2022, the Dolder ice rink is hosting a Christmas Ice Disco with music, a mulled wine bar, and fondue at the restaurant (reservation required). Learn more…

During Christmas season, there are usually a few temporary festive ice rinks where you can enjoy Christmas lights and cheer. But in 2022, some of these temporary rinks will not be open due to the energy crisis.

Cutting down your own tree

Dec 17 & 18, 2022

You can get Christmas trees in lots of places through December. See also my post for some tips: Finding Christmas Trees in Zurich.

If you can wait until late December to get your tree, then we highly recommend going into a city forest and cut down your own tree. There are only two dates to cut down your own tree so it can be busy. Saws are provided and staff will wrap your tree in a net so you can easily carry it home on the tram as shown below. There’s a grill with sausages for sale as well as glühwein and hot drinks. If there’s snow, bring a sled to drag your tree on. My friend does this every year and says it is by far one of their favorite things to do as a family.

Sat 17. Dec 2022 – Hönggerberg from 9:00 to 16:00
Kappenbühlstrasse 149, 8049 Zürich

Sun 18. Dec 2022 – Albisgütli forest from 11-16:00
Uetlibergstrasse 355, 8045 Zürich

You can also get trees that have been already cut down from these place on any day. More info about where and when to cut down your own tree on stadt-zuerich.ch.

Read also

What to do in Switzerland in the winter for skiers and non-skiers alike.  Browse different types of winter activities in Switzerland.
What to do in Switzerland in the winter for skiers and non-skiers alike.  Browse different types of winter activities in Switzerland.

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11 Responses

  1. I will be in Zurich Dec 26 and 27 then traveling onto Zermatt. Are there things open those days and if so what do you suggest. Will be myself and 18 year old daughter
    Thank you in advance!

    1. It will be pretty quiet on those days. you could go to the zoo, ice skate, uetliberg. I’m working on a post about what to do during Christmas break. So check back soon for that.

  2. Also, there is a Samichlaus Bus . One can go with children into the woods to see Samichlaus. Booked in October , only on Nov 27 , there were a couple of places left.
    https://samichlaus-bus.ch/

  3. Although it may be late for this year, Lindt Chocolate Factory do Christmas workshops, which not surprisingly book fast!

  4. We are an Australian family of 6 adults and will be in Zurich for 1 night only on 19th December and was wondering if you could recommend a place to get a family photo with Samichlaus (Santa). Also if you have any recommendations on what we should arrange to do on that night. I would appreciate any advice.

    1. Sorry for the delay. The easiest would be to book Märlitram tickets for that evening. Kids aged 4-10 can ride with Samichlaus on the tram (20 min) around Zürich. See this post https://swissfamilyfun.com/marlitram/ If you don’t get tickets, you might be able to grab Santa for a pic. But it gets really busy getting the kids on and off the tram, so not sure how that would work.

  5. Hi Tanya,

    Thanks a lot for consolidated list of all activities for Christmas in Zurich.

    Though late for this year, you can add Samiclaus schiff activity in zurichsee. We did it this year, and was fun.

    Regards
    Shweta

  6. We have been here 5 weeks and so far every weekend have pretty much used your blog to do something – all trips have been successful. We loved the parade last night and the singing Christmas tree brought tears to my eyes! More importantly our children have loved all our excursions too. A huge thank you for the blog.
    Jules

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Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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