Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Date: 11 December
Level of participation: 5 – festival…chocolate…happy days
If you want a decent excuse to eat chocolate before Christmas, Geneva has come up with it. At l’Escalade, the city’s largest festival, marzipan-filled marmites en chocolat (chocolate cauldrons) are smashed and the sweet pieces are gathered up and devoured. The night also sees torchlit processions through the old town and a huge bonfire is lit in the cathedral square.
The festival commemorates the defeat of an attack by the Duke of Savoy on the night of 11 December 1602, with one legend suggesting the assault was repelled by a housewife who tipped a pot of boiling soup over a trooper’s head and whacked him with her marmite (cauldron). She then raised the alarm throughout the city. If you’re here a few days early, there’s also the l’Escalade run, in which you can join around 20,000 other runners for an 8km jog around the old town. There’s also a fancydress run if you happen to have something like a chicken suit stuffed in your suitcase.
Essentials: December nights in Geneva will be cold (the average minimum temperature is 0°C), so dress warm or stay near the bonfire.
Local attractions: The Jet d’Eau on Lake Geneva is the world’s tallest fountain, shooting water 140m into the air. The Palais des Nations is home base for the UN and admission includes an hour-long tour.
More info: www.compagniede1602.ch
See other festivals in December here.