Illuminarium Zurich Lights Festival


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Discover the magic of Illuminarium Zurich, a festival of lights that turns Switzerland’s financial hub into a dreamy wonderland of visual and sensory delights. Nestled in the Landesmuseum Zurich courtyard, this yearly spectacle boasts everything from twinkling fairy lights to grandiose light exhibitions, all set against the backdrop of Switzerland’s signature elegance and precision. 

Illuminarium Zurich Lights Festival
Festival highlights

About Illuminarium Zurich

Whether you’re a local or a globe-trotter, this detailed guide has got you covered with everything you need to know to make the most of this luminous experience.

Illuminarium Zurich is the epitome of what a Christmas event should be, making it the ultimate destination for families and friends during the holiday season.

Imagine stepping into a realm where art, technology, and the yuletide spirit converge to create an atmosphere that’s nothing short of magical. With an array of jaw-dropping lighting displays and a plethora of activities, this festival captures the essence of Christmas in a way that’s both innovative and steeped in tradition.

Featured Lighting Displays

  • Light Art Installations: Think of them as sculptures, but made of light. These masterpieces will change the way you look at lighting.
  • Light Shows: Choreographed performances of lights and music that fill the courtyard with mesmerizing patterns.
  • Projection and 3D Mapping: Transforming the facades of buildings into canvases for spectacular visual narratives.
  • Christmas Trees: Not just any Christmas trees, but those adorned with twinkling twinkle lights trees.
  • Fairy Lights: Ethereal nets of lights that blanket trees, archways, and pathways, creating a world that even Tinker Bell would envy.

Activities to Explore

  • Dance to the Music of Popular DJs: Feel the beat as top DJs spin tunes that make even the light patterns dance.
  • Visit Food Corners: Indulge in scrumptious bites ranging from Swiss delicacies to international favorites.
  • Watch Musical Performances: From classical quartets to contemporary bands, the musical array is as diverse as the lighting.

So, whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in a captivating world of light art or shake a leg to some groovy music, Illuminarium Zurich offers a Christmas experience that’s unforgettable and unique.

Illuminarium Zurich Lights Festival

Illuminarium Zurich Festival Dates (2023)

Mark your calendars, set your reminders, and start your countdowns because Illuminarium Zurich is slated to light up your life from November 9 to December 30, 2023. That’s right, you’ve got a solid seven weeks to experience this luminescent extravaganza. Whether you want to kick off your holiday celebrations early or find that perfect backdrop for your Christmas family photo, this festival offers you ample opportunities to bask in its glow.

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

What better setting for this radiant wonder than the heart of Zurich? Illuminarium Zurich takes place in the elegant courtyard of Landesmuseum Zurich, also known as the Swiss National Museum. Located at Museumstrasse 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland, this venue offers a perfect blend of history, architecture, and cultural significance, amplifying the festival’s allure.

Now, let’s talk logistics. Zurich Airport is the nearest international gateway, located approximately 10 miles away from the Landesmuseum. Fear not, the Swiss have transportation down to a fine art, offering you multiple ways to reach the festival.

How to Get There

  • By Bus: Lines 31, 34, and 46 will drop you within a short walking distance of the festival.
  • By Tram: Tram lines 4, 6, and 10 are your go-to options for a direct ride to the Landesmuseum.
  • By Car: Car rental services are abundant at Zurich Airport, but remember, parking near the museum is limited.

Getting to Zurich by Train from Other Cities

  • From Geneva: Direct trains run every half hour, with a travel time of about 2.5 to 3 hours.
  • From Basel: Another direct route, taking just about 50 minutes to an hour.
  • From Milan: If you’re coming from Italy, direct trains take around 3 to 4 hours.
  • From Munich: Enjoy scenic views on a 4-hour direct train journey.
  • From Paris: The TGV Lyria will whisk you to Zurich in roughly 4 hours.

If you’re in Europe, you can also check out these other amazing lights festivals:

Madrid Christmas Lights Festival

Liverpool Festival of Lights

Festival Hours

For those who love basking in the soft glow of twinkle lights as the sun sets, Illuminarium Zurich has got the timing just right. The festival opens its enchanting gates at 5:00 PM, giving you the perfect opportunity to experience the magical transition from day to night amidst a sea of lights and colors. Whether you’re an early bird looking to capture that perfect “golden hour” photo or a night owl eager to dance under the curtain lights, the festival’s hours are tailored to meet all your luminous needs.

Illuminarium Zurich

How Much it Cost to Visit Illuminarium Zurich?

Let’s talk numbers, shall we? If the thought of shelling out hefty sums is dimming your enthusiasm, worry not! Admission to the Illuminarium Zurich is absolutely free, making it an inclusive affair for one and all. Yes, you read that correctly: you can meander through the maze of fairy lights, gaze at intricate light art installations, and revel in the overall ambiance without spending a dime.

However, before you jump for joy, keep in mind that some features of the festival, like the specialized light shows, are ticketed events. To get the full scoop on ticket prices and bundle options, head over to the festival’s official website. There you’ll find all the nitty-gritty details to ensure you make the most out of your visit.

Weather and What to Wear?

In Zurich, November to December generally ushers in the winter chill, offering a fitting canvas for the festival of lights. Temperatures usually range from 30°F to 45°F, making it crucial to come prepared for a cool to cold climate. While the low temperatures enhance the cozy, festive feel, they also mean you’ll want to layer up to fully enjoy the light displays and activities.

Recommended Clothing

  • Thermal Layers: Start with a good base layer to lock in warmth.
  • Sweater or Fleece: A mid-layer for added insulation.
  • Waterproof Jacket: Preferably one that’s also wind-resistant.
  • Scarves and Neck Gaiters: To keep the chill away from your neck and face.
  • Gloves: Insulated gloves to keep your fingers toasty as you snap photos or enjoy a hot cocoa.
  • Beanie or Winter Hat: A lot of body heat escapes from the head, so cover it up!
  • Comfortable Boots: Footwear should be warm and waterproof, especially if snow is in the forecast.

Where to Sleep? Hotels Nearby the Illuminarium Zurich festival

When the lights dim and you’re ready to call it a night, Zurich offers a range of sumptuous lodging options to make your stay as magical as the festival itself.

Baur au Lac

Location: Talstrasse 1, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: A timeless classic, Baur au Lac offers a blend of traditional luxury and modern comfort, all within a stone’s throw from the festival venue.
Amenities: From a Michelin-star restaurant to an in-house spa, the hotel leaves no stone unturned in ensuring a lavish stay. Oh, and did we mention free Wi-Fi to instantly share your festival photos?

Hotel Schweizerhof Zürich

Location: Bahnhofplatz 7, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: Situated just adjacent to Zurich’s main train station, Hotel Schweizerhof Zürich makes for a convenient and plush stay.
Amenities: With its own spa and wellness center, along with top-notch dining options, you’ll be cocooned in luxury. Free Wi-Fi is a given, so you can plan your next festival day with ease.

Storchen Zürich

Location: Weinpl. 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: Nestled on the banks of the Limmat River, Storchen Zürich offers rooms with postcard-worthy views that can make your stay extra special.
Amenities: Enjoy fine dining at the hotel’s riverside restaurant and make use of the complimentary Wi-Fi to stay connected or perhaps, upload that perfect twinkle lights trees shot you captured at the festival.

What to Eat

After a feast for the eyes at the festival of lights, it’s time to satiate your taste buds with some of Zurich’s finest culinary offerings.


Location: Bahnhofstrasse 28A, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: Housed in a historic armory dating back to the 15th century, Zeughauskeller combines old-world charm with mouthwatering Swiss fare.
Foods: Here, you can indulge in traditional Swiss dishes such as Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (creamy veal), Rösti (a crispy Swiss potato dish), and a delightful selection of local sausages.


Location: Sihlstrasse 28, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: Established in 1898, Hiltl holds the title of the world’s oldest continuously operated vegetarian restaurant, as per the Guinness World Records.
Foods: The eatery features an extensive vegetarian and vegan menu that spans globe-trotting dishes, from vibrant salads and Italian pasta to aromatic plant-based Indian curries.


Location: Bahnhofstrasse 21, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: A Zurich institution, Sprüngli is the epitome of Swiss confectionery elegance.
Foods: Known for its luxurious chocolates and pastries, the café offers an array of sweet treats such as the famous Luxemburgerli macarons, handcrafted truffles, and sumptuous tarts that are perfect for satisfying that post-festival sugar craving.

More Things to Do in the Area

While the festival of lights is bound to be the shining star of your trip, Zurich itself is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered.


Location: Bahnhofstrasse, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: Often dubbed one of the world’s most exclusive shopping avenues, Bahnhofstrasse is where luxury meets retail therapy.
Activities: From high-end boutiques like Gucci and Louis Vuitton to Swiss department stores, the street offers something for every taste and budget. Don’t forget to also explore the many side alleys brimming with local shops and cafes.

Zurich Zoo

Location: Zürichbergstrasse 221, 8044 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: As one of the most well-maintained and ethical zoos in Europe, Zurich Zoo offers an educational and fun day out for the entire family.
Activities: Witness the Masoala Rainforest exhibit replicating the Madagascar habitat, or marvel at the Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park. It’s an ideal way to mix some wildlife wonder into your festival journey.

Old Town (Altstadt)

Location: Altstadt, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
Description: The historic heart of Zurich, Altstadt is a maze of narrow, winding streets filled with medieval and Renaissance buildings.
Activities: Discover the Grossmünster, an iconic twin-towered church, or stroll through Niederdorf, a pedestrian zone filled with quaint shops and eateries. Don’t miss the Swiss National Museum for a comprehensive look at Swiss cultural history.

A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to Illuminarium Zurich

As the curtains close on your magical journey through Illuminarium Zurich, we hope you take with you not just mesmerizing photos but everlasting memories. Between the festival’s dazzling light art installations, the rhythmic beats of popular DJs, and the gastronomic delights of Zurich, you’ve witnessed a festival that truly has something for everyone. Whether it’s your first visit or a cherished holiday tradition, the city’s twinkling lights and enriching experiences are sure to keep calling you back, year after year.


1. Is there parking available near the festival?

Yes, there are several parking garages close to Landesmuseum where Illuminarium Zurich is held. However, spaces can fill up quickly during peak festival hours, so public transport is often recommended.

2. Can I smoke at the festival?

Smoking is not permitted in the enclosed areas of the festival, including near the light installations and food corners. Designated smoking areas are available, so please use them to ensure the comfort and safety of all visitors.

3. Are pets allowed?

Yes, pets are generally allowed in the outdoor areas of the festival, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. Please note that pets are not allowed in indoor venues or near specific light installations for safety reasons.

4. Do I need tickets for the festival?

Entry to the festival grounds is free. However, certain light shows and special events within the festival may require a ticket. Check the festival’s official website for detailed information on ticketing.

5. What is the policy on outside food and beverages?

Outside food and beverages are generally not permitted. There are plenty of food corners and kiosks within the festival where you can purchase a variety of foods and drinks.

6. Are there restroom facilities?

Yes, there are multiple clean and well-maintained restrooms available throughout the festival grounds. Some are also wheelchair accessible.

7. Is the festival wheelchair accessible?

Absolutely. The festival is committed to being accessible to everyone and features wheelchair-accessible routes and facilities. However, some areas with uneven terrain may be challenging to navigate.

8. What happens if it rains?

Illuminarium Zurich takes place rain or shine. Many of the light installations are designed to withstand weather conditions, and there are also covered areas where visitors can seek shelter.


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