ZURICH is simply enchanting during the advent period, with quaint Christmas markets, traditional advent concerts and impressive shows.

The whole city is bathed in a warm light, the scents of cinnamon and mulled wine fill the air and the sounds of Christmas can be heard all around.

Sunday opening hours and late-night shopping offer plenty of opportunities to find the perfect Christmas gift, and at New Year, Zurich knows how to get the party started.

We’ve compiled a list of many activities on offer in the beautiful city of Zurich during the holiday period.

Christmas magic and spectacular lights
At the end of November, all of the city’s Christmas lights are switched on simultaneously. ‘Lucy’, as the unique light installation is known, is made from nearly 12,000 crystals with white, blue and red LEDs, and their twinkling illuminates the length of the Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s famous shopping mile.
Many of Zurich’s shops stay open until 10pm that evening, marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. And Sunday shopping hours and the various Christmas markets throughout the city and region ensure there’s time for plenty of retail therapy throughout the advent period.

Christmas markets and singing trees
Festive decorations and the smell of cinnamon herald the arrival of the traditional Zurich Christmas markets. Whether at the oldest Christmas market in Zurich in the Historic Old Town or at Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market at the main railway station, locals and tourists mingle as they browse through the stalls in search of treasure.
The showpiece of the Christkindlimarkt in the station hall is the 16-metre tall Christmas tree decorated with 7,000 Swarovski crystals.
And anyone strolling along the Bahnhofstrasse will soon encounter the unique ‘Singing Christmas Tree’. Choirs from the Zurich region show off their Christmas repertoire each evening from a house-high, pyramid-shaped stage decorated to resemble a Christmas tree. Set against the spectacular backdrop of the opera house, the ‘Wienachtsdorf’ on Sechseläutenplatz is the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit: countless enchanting market stalls, an ice rink and many other attractions provide hours of magical entertainment for young and old alike.

Beyond the city
A train or boat trip to Rapperswil is a must during the Christmas period: the annual ‘Christchindlimärt’ is one of the biggest in Switzerland, and is renowned for both its elaborate decorations and its diverse program of events.
If you’d prefer to explore the north of the canton, try the tranquil ‘Wiehnachts Märt’ in the Winterthur Old Town, considered to be one of the most beautiful and atmospheric markets in Switzerland.

Candle dipping
Candle dipping is a favorite Swiss Christmas activity. The relaxed, unhurried procedure allows you to create your own candles, with a pavilion on the Bürkliplatz hosting the most popular candle dipping event. As soon as they set foot in the temporary tent, visitors are enveloped in the smell of beeswax and the warm glow of candlelight.

Magical and breathtaking shows
Every year, several circuses come to Zurich to show off their skills in spectacular Christmas shows. At Bauschänzli on the Limmat, the long-established Circus Conelli enthralls spectators with its latest show, while the Knie family’s Circus Salto Natale in Kloten offers up a mystical world of breathtaking acrobatics.

Fireworks, Parties and Gala Dinners – New Year’s Eve in Zurich
The highlight of Zurich’s New Year festivities is without doubt the New Year’s Eve party by Lake Zurich.
Some 100,000 visitors flock to the lake basin each year and marvel at the spectacular fireworks display that is put on to greet the new year.
Food and drink stands, bars, and live music performed on various stages create the perfect festive ambiance. The official program of the New Year’s Eve Magic is from 8pm to 3am. Night owls and party-goers can dance their way into the New Year at any of the many parties hosted by the local clubs.
Those who prefer to take things more quietly can tuck into a sumptuous gala dinner – either on a cruise on Lake Zurich or at one of the city’s numerous restaurants.

Guided city tour
On the special Christmas edition of Zurich Tourism’s guided tour of the Old Town, romantics can get into the holiday spirit while learning about Zurich’s history and discovering the perfect spots to enjoy the festive period. Visit the largest indoor Christmas market in Europe, stroll along the magically illuminated Bahnhofstrasse and enjoy hot punch or mulled wine at Wienachtsdorf, Zurich’s Christmas village at Sechseläutenplatz in front of the Opera House.

LGBT Seasons Highlights
Within the realm of late-night bars and clubs ‒ the largest and most vibrant assortment in Switzerland ‒ countless party labels and establishments create a nightlife that is more colorful than a rainbow:

Angels Black Party Weekend 2016
The 2016 Angels Black Party Weekend is taking place from November 4 to 6. The main party will be held on November 5 at Club X-TRA. For more information visit www.angels.ch.

Flexx BOOOM – New Year’s Eve Party
Another year is over so what would be a better way to begin the new year than with an amazing boom? Be prepared for the hottest New Year’s Eve party in town, with special decoration and laser show. Doors open at 11pm. For more information visit www.flexx-party.ch.

For your chance to win three nights in a four-star hotel in Zurich for Christmas, ski-week or summer, tell us what you’d most like to see in the beautiful country.

© Star Observer 2017 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex (LGBTI) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.