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Making merry at Christmas markets


(Montreux Christmas Market)

Many Swiss cities and towns are dressed up for Christmas. swissinfo provides a selection of a few of the best Christmas markets in the country.

Whether you are planning to be in Zurich this December or on the banks of the Rhine or the shores of Lake Geneva – there is a place to make merry and take care of your shopping.

There are around 170 stalls selling trinkets and baubles of all kinds inside the Zurich railway station, billed as Europe's largest indoor Christmas market.

It includes an antique carousel complete with wooden horses and a Fairy Tale tent for children.

Woodcarvers and cheese makers will show off their skills at a miniature replica of an Emmental farmhouse.

Basel is bigger

Basel boasts Switzerland's biggest Christmas market with what it says is the longest lit-up street in Europe.

It stretches for three kilometres from Aeschenplatz to Messeplatz, intersecting the old town and crossing bridges.

About a 100 large Christmas trees decorate the town's streets and alleys, and a visit to the city on the Rhine would not be complete without a stop at the Christmas shop of Johann Wanner located on Spalenberg.

Another superlative for Basel: Wanner is reputed to be the world's best-known Christmas tree designer and ornament maker.

Magical Montreux

The covered Christmas market in Montreux is the largest on Lake Geneva with about 120 stands and a "magic garden" with a woodcutter's village.

One of this year's special attractions is an exhibition of nativity scenes from Poland and a look at the origins of – what else – the Christmas market.

Christmas high

St Gallen is the latest to get in on the Christmas act, and the eastern city tops all others with the tallest tree.

About 5,000 lights decorate the 20-metre-high tree which has pride of place in the square in front of St Gallen's cathedral.

A stately old building near the tree has been converted into a giant advents calendar. A new window is being opened each night at 6pm to great fanfare.

Either alphorn players, dance ensembles or men's choirs will be on hand to celebrate each unveiling.

Small is beautiful

The event in Bern is content with being small but cosy. Arts and crafts can be bought up to Christmas Eve from stalls lining the squares and narrow lanes around the cathedral and parliament buildings.

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