Canton of Geneva
December 7-9, 2018
The historic Escalade Festival is one of the most popular festivals that takes place every December in Geneva. This festival is dedicated to Protestant Geneva’s victory over the Duke of Savoy’s invasion in 1602. According to the legend, Catherine Cheynel, otherwise known as Mère Royaume, played a key role in repelling the invading force by pouring a cauldron of boiling hot vegetable soup onto the head of a Savoyard attacker, killing him. For three days, the streets of the Old City come alive with parades, demonstrations, folk music, dancing, cannon fire, marches, and battle re-enactments, and lots of vegetable soup. Almost all of the events are free, and even the mulled wine and chocolates that are dished out are free at some events. The festival ends with a huge bonfire in the square in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral.
Belalp Witches’ Race
Canton of Valais
January 12-19, 2019
The Belalp Witches’ Race, otherwise known as the Belalp Hexe or Witches’ Descent, is one of the biggest and eccentric festivals in Switzerland. This skiing festival is held every January on the slopes near the alpine resort of Blatten-Belalp, and the naming of this festival is based on the medieval legend of the Belalp Witch. According to the legend, a witch, who was married to a pious man, fell in love with a sorcerer. This witch was accused of being responsible for her husband’s death and was burned at the stake.
There are a number of ski races held during the week. This festival regularly attracts about 1000 participants, who will dress up as witches with large hook-noses, tall black hats, garish makeup, wild hairdos, and brooms instead of ski poles. The 12 kilometer route starts at the Hohstock and ends at the pretty mountain village of Blatten in the Canton of Valais. It’s a fairly demanding route, with steep and challenging sections off-piste. With costumes, skiing, and snow, Switzerland’s wackiest downhill race is one of the top amateur races that will guarantee fun.
Art on Ice
February 7-10, 2019 – Zurich
February 12-13, 2019 – Lausanne
February 15-16, 2019 – Davos
February 17, 2019 – Basel
Art on Ice is the most memorable music festival and the greatest figure skating gala in the world. First held in 1995, this Swiss festival is a unique blend of live music by internationally renowned stars and artists, well choreographed performances by acrobatic figure skaters, and extraordinary light shows. This revolutionary and incredibly successful figure skating and musical festival attracts some 100,000 spectators per year, and remains to this day, the leading event of its type in the world. This year’s show will include Olympic gold medalists and world champions Kaetlyn Osmond, Stéphane Lambiel, Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot, and Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov. Swiss pop and soul queen Stefanie Heinzmann and a troupe from the Cirque Éloize will also be performing live on stage, so you do not want to miss this festival. This colorful and truly amazing festival is an unforgettable experience for everyone. Art on Ice will melt your heart.