Switzerland is a veritable winter wonderland but there's plenty more to do in the area than ski. Here are five reasons why you should be considering the Lake Geneva area for a winter vacation this year.
1. Aquatis Opens in Lausanne
The Aquatis Aquarium-Vivarium opened in Lausanne this October. The largest freshwater aquarium in Europe, it contains close to 10,000 fish and reptile species from five continents. The design is by Lausanne-based Richter & Dahl Rocha architects and Aquatis will serve as an interactive cultural center, museum and educational institution.
2. The 40th Château‐d’Oex International Hot‐Air Balloon Festival
The village of Château-d’Oex is celebrating the 40th annual Festival International de Ballons from January 27 to February 4, 2018. Surrounded by mountains, Château-d’Oex has a microclimate that makes it ideal for hot air ballooning. This year, more than 80 balloons from 20 countries are expected to take to the skies. The town is famed as the start of the first successful around the world balloon journey, made in 1999 in the Breitling Orbiter by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones.
3. Vaud Wins Top Chef Awards from Gault&Millau and Michelin
Chef Franck Giovannini from Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, located in the canton of Vaud, has been awarded Best Chef of the Year by the Gault&Millau, which gave him 19 points, while Michelin once again bestowed 3 stars on Chef Giovanni. Another noteworthy award went to Chef Florian Carrard at Hotel Valrose in Rougemont, who was named “Discovery of the Year." In total, there are 97 restaurants in the Lake Geneva Region in the Gault&Millau 2018 for a total of 1,365 points and 12 restaurants in the Michelin Guide 2018 with a total of 17 stars.
4. Christmas Markets: Montreux Noël and Bô Noël
In a country famed for its Christmas markets, the month-long Montreux Noël is special. There are 160 chalets arranged along the lakefront, selling hand-made goods and local food specialties. The nearby Castle de Chillon has a medieval magic program on three weekends and the famed Montreux-Oberland-Bernois train brings families up to Rochers-de-Naye above Montreux to meet with Santa. This year’s Montreux Noel runs from November 23 to December 24. The nearby city of Lausanne has its own holiday festival with Bô Noël, a market with local food, wines and handmade goods from November 23 to December 31. The city will be illuminated for Lausanne Lumieres, an extraordinary display of projections and light sculptures by featured artists.
5. Glacier 3000 Expands Ski Area
Last but not least, Glacier 3000 is expanding its ski area for 2017-18 with the creation of a new “Red Run” that will open on December 20. At nearly five miles long, it will be the longest ski run on the glacier. Of course, Glacier 3000 offers more than skiing, as visitors can take the Peak Walk, go dog sledding and or ride in a snow bus, followed by lunch at the recently renovated Restaurant Botta. Visit the Lake Geneva Region website to learn more about skiing, sledding and other winter sports in Les Diablerets, Villas-sur-Ollon, Les Mosses, Leysin and other ski areas.