Geneva hosts, every year in January, a bright festival of lights! The event, organized by the city government, lights up the squares, gardens, streets and alleys of the old town and the lake promenade, giving color and life even in the cold winter month. An unmissable opportunity to visit the city, get to know its charm and discover its most famous sites in an unusual light.
Geneva, Switzerland’s most famous French-speaking city, is located on the shores of Lake Geneva. The elegant and sophisticated city, both modern and ancient, is famous throughout the world for its humanitarian vocation and for being the headquarters of the United Nations and the Red Cross. But despite this strong institutional character, you will certainly be amazed by its ability to perfectly combine an ancient soul with a young and modern attitude. In Geneva you’ll find many attractions not to be missed and lots of opportunities for leisure and entertainment. But also during the Winter, the city offers many opportunities for leisure and entertainment through top-class events such as Geneva Lux, the festival of lights that surprises the city and its visitors in January. And it is precisely this festival that we want to tell you about today!
Geneva Lux - Festival of lights
Geneva Lux is a free festival of lights organized by the Department of Security and Sport of the City of Geneva. Created in 2014 with the aim of making the city fascinating and attractive even during the cold winter months, the festival has come a long way since then and has grown over the years to become one of the most popular events not only in Geneva but in the whole of Switzerland.
During the 2023 edition, which takes place from 27th January to 5th February every day from 6 pm to 10 pm, it will be possible to admire more than 20 light installations located in the old town and on the lakeside promenade.
With a focus on energy saving, the event will officially start on Friday 27 January at 7pm with a special opening event: a dazzling show of flames and sparks followed by a concert by the opera singer Claire Michel de Haas. Meeting point: the Jardin Anglais (English Garden), by the installation ‘le chant des sirènes’.
The light installations
For 2023, Geneva Lux is offering more than 20 light installations, all of which can be admired every day from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. A tour of all the attractions, which can be done independently and free of charge, really does run through the entire city and its lakefront and takes at least three hours. However, on the official website it is possible to select some partial tours: the GPS location of the installations and the required walking time are indicated. It is therefore possible to opt for a tour focusing on the new installations – for those who have already visited the festival in previous years – or for one of the two family tours, which are shorter and easily covered even with children. Lastly, you can focus on the works installed along the lakeside promenade, or you can focus on the old town, while discovering its charm at night. A map of the installations and the different routes can be found at this link.
Finally, you can take part in one of the organised guided tours (in French only), which can be booked at this link. The visits take place at weekends, start at 5.30 p.m. from the Fondation Genève Tourisme & Congrès, at Quai du Mont-Blanc 2, and last about two hours. The ticket costs CHF 15.00 per person.
Enjoy the Geneva Lux 2023!
Must-see attractions in Geneva
If you decide to visit Geneva Lux, we suggest you do it over a weekend so you will not miss the opportunity to visit the city and its main attractions. In this article, we have suggested 8 must-see attractions for a weekend in Geneva and if you want to know more, we suggest you read it. In the mean time, we recommend here three must-see attractions that, due to their ease of access and proximity to the light installations, can easily be combined with a visit to Geneva Lux.
– The Jet d’Eau: It is the true symbol of the city, clearly visible even from the planes flying over Geneva, and a must-see for a first visit here. The Jet d’Eau, the water jet, is not a simple fountain, but a powerful column of water projected 140 meters high and at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour. It is visible every day during the day, but be careful: the season and the wind conditions can modify the operating hours!
– Saint-Pierre Cathedral and the Chapel of the Maccabees: Located in an elevated position right in the center of the city, Saint-Pierre Cathedral is certainly a must-see attraction, both for its ancient and rich history and for the little gems it hides. The entrance to the church, as well as to the chapel, is for free. You can find all information at this link (french only).
– Promenade de la Treille and the longest bench in the world: Not far from the Hôtel de Ville stands the elegant Promenade de la Treille, a panoramic viewpoint that offers a wonderful view of the city and the Park of the Bastions below. But the undisputed attraction of this corner of the city is certainly the Banc de la Treille, the Guinness World Record wooden bench, 120 meters long!
Arriving by train
Geneva is easily accessible by train from major cities in Switzerland and neighboring countries. From Lucerne, a direct train takes you to the city in about three hours. Zurich and Bern are also of course served by direct trains, which reach the city in 2 hours and 45 minutes and 1 hour and 45 minutes respectively. From Basel, the trip to Geneva takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes, but in this case it will be necessary to change the train in Bern or Biel/Bienne. Finally, from Lugano the trip is much longer and takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes with a train change in Olten or Zurich.
Geneva station, known to locals as ‘Gare de Cornavin‘, is located within walking distance of the old town, which is easily accessible in just 10-15 minutes. The area around the station also offers good accommodations options ideal for those arriving by train: this way you can easily leave your luggage and get around the city. Train tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB app and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.
Arriving by car
Geneva is of course also reachable by car through the excellent highway network that connects it to major Swiss cities. From Lucerne, Zurich and Bern it is possible to get to the city in about 2 hours and 50 minutes, 3 hours and 1 hour and 50 minutes driving on the A1. From Basel, the journey by car takes about two hours and 45 minutes driving along the A2 highway and then the A1 highway. Finally, from Lugano, if you do not want to cross the national border, it is advisable to reach Lucerne and then to follow the A1 to Geneva. In this case, the journey takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes.
The city offers many paid parking areas, some of them in the city center or nearby, but as always, we recommend to get here by public transport and leave your car at home: in the city you will not need it! However, at this link you will find information on city parking and its costs.
Guests who decide to stay in one of the hotels of the city will receive the Geneva Transport Card. With this card, which will be given to you when you check in at the hotel, you will be entitled to unlimited travel on the Geneva UNIRESO public transport network: bus, train (including the return trip from Geneva to the airport) and boat (Mouettes Genevoises) for the entire duration of your stay.
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