Christmas traditions on Lake Maggiore

Christmas is the most magical time of the year, even in Switzerland's most Mediterranean region, which combines the typical Alpine Christmas tradition with the lake, palm trees and mild climate. At the end of the year, the streets and houses on the shores of Lake Maggiore are festively decorated and the scent of mulled wine, hot chestnuts and gingerbread spices wafts through the sparkling alleyways. A thousand lights are reflected in the lake and the whole region exudes a touch of magic. It's the right time to savour winter and indulge in classic Christmas traditions while enjoying a cappuccino or an aperitif outdoors in the glorious winter sun against the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains.

Christmas traditions on Lake Maggiore
  • The mildest climate in Switzerland

  • Winter on Lake Maggiore is known for being particularly mild. When the sun shines in the winter sky, the terraces fill up with people drinking coffee or enjoying a delicious lunch with a view of the lake and the snow-capped mountains. The average temperature in January 2022 was an impressive 6°C.

The climate is, of course, the element that makes the Christmas season here in the region so unique and special. Where else can you ski down the slopes in the morning and relax in the sun amongst the palm trees on the lakeshore in the afternoon? There is also a lot to experience. Christmas culture is deeply rooted in the region and there is no shortage of opportunities to do some festive shopping, stroll through the typical stalls of the many small markets and browse for traditional delicacies in the tea rooms and pastry shops. Surrounded by Christmas illuminations, streets and houses sparkle and the fragrance of mulled wine, hot chestnuts and gingerbread spices wafts through the streets. The lake mirrors the festively decorated promenade, glittering in the night with its dancing lights. It's a time for reflection – but also for activity: many traditions come alive at this time of year.

Markets: there are many Christmas markets in the region. They are small and mostly visited by locals, but this is what gives them their friendly and typical character. Let yourself be inspired for Christmas presents.

Nativity scenes: Nativity scenes are an integral part of Ticino's culture and are so important in our region that two villages, Vira Gambarogno in Gambarogno and Moghegno in the Maggia Valley, are transformed into real nativity scene villages during the Christmas season, with dozens of nativity scenes set up throughout the village. They are particularly beautiful in the evening when the cribs are illuminated.

Events: Winterland, Natal in Vall, Corsa da Natal run, New Year's concert, fireworks to celebrate the beginning of the year and the Tavolata di Ascona. These are just some of the events that take place during the festive season and animate the region.

Wellness: Winter is the ideal time to pamper yourself in the wellness centres, in the hot water of the thermal baths or in the steam of the sauna. Relax and recharge your batteries to start the new year in a relaxed mood.

  • Winterland, the Christmas village on the Piazza Grande

  • The small market and food stalls with their inviting aromas, the ice rink with free admission and the 5 metre high ice slide, from which you can slide down in a rubber tyre, create a magical Christmas atmosphere in Locarno. In the evening, the fairy tale "The Star Fishers" is projected onto the town hall building in the piazza with colourful lights, a heart-warming story for young and old.

The Ascona-Locarno region is known for its range, from the palm trees to the glaciers. In less than an hour, you can reach the region's ski resorts from the lakeshore. Winter sports enthusiasts are drawn to Bosco Gurin in the Maggia Valley. The Walser village offers 30 kilometres of slopes, a sledge run, a children's area and a toboggan run. Children, beginners and cross-country skiing lovers will find their winter wonderland in Mogno in Val Lavizzara. There is also a small ski lift and a sledge run on the Alpe di Neggia at 1400 metres above sea level. If you don’t have that much time, Cardada, which can be reached by cable car in 8 minutes from Locarno, is ideal. If there is snow, you can enjoy sledging or snowshoeing. But even if there is no snow, the many activities and the enchanting view make this the perfect destination to spend an afternoon with the family.

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