Fête de l’Escalade
🏰 Fête de l'Escalade
Go back in time and discover Geneva’s most popular historical festival!
The 2021 festivities are unfortunately cancelled due to the health situation. We hope to celebrate this wonderful traditional festival with you next year!
⚔️ Once upon a time, on the night of 11-12 December 1602…
During the night, Geneva was stormed by the troops of the Duke of Savoy who sought to annex the city to France, but the Savoyards never succeeded in breaking through the ramparts thanks to the energy of Geneva’s citizens, and in particular the famous Mère Royaume (“Mother Kingdom”), whose story we will tell you a little later.
Thus, for more than 400 years, Geneva has been celebrating this victory with sumptuous parades and period demonstrations that transport you for three days to the dawn of the 17th century.
All generations come together to enjoy the historical traditions, and great characters roam in every corner of the city, dressed in unique medieval costumes, parading on foot and on horseback. Children proudly carry their torches to the sound of drums and the great choir, where the whole town sings historical songs around a gigantic bonfire.
L’Escalade is THE top festival of living traditions in Geneva and takes place on the weekend of 10 to 12 December 2021!
🥕 The story of Mère Royaume and the Chocolate Pot
Chocolate makers get busy for the Escalade festival as it is customary for Geneva’s residents to break a chocolate pot with family and friends and to gobble up the mouth-watering chocolate and the little vegetable-shaped marzipan sweets inside. But where does this tradition come from?
On the night of the attack in 1602, once the alert was given, Geneva’s citizens did their utmost to defend themselves and a certain Mère Royaume who was cooking a large pot of soup spilled her pot on the ramparts to prevent the enemies from climbing. This tradition pays tribute to her bravery and is enjoyed by young and old alike who delight in the delicious chocolate.
You will find the famous pot in various sizes at all the best chocolate shops in Geneva. Before breaking yours, don’t forget to recite the ritual phrase of L’Escalade: “Thus perish the enemies of the Republic”! You are now a true Genevois!
Throughout the city, you can also drink bowls of steaming-hot soup to warm up.
The 2021 festivities and special information on health precautions
✨ Programme from 10 to 12 December 2021
Celebrations will begin on Friday evening with the moving Procession in tribute to the victims.
From that moment on and throughout the two days that follow, the public will be able to see the magnificent costumes of the Company of 1602 members, who organise the Festival.
Various performances and stands will bring the streets, sites and esplanades of the Old Town to life. Festivities will end late on Sunday, once night has fallen, with a large historical procession starting from the Parc des Bastions. This procession will go around the Old Town, pass through the city centre and end with a Proclamation at the Place de Neuve.
🔥 Sunday evening procession
The authorities have asked not to go through the Old Town, for fear of too big a crowd. The procession will therefore bypass the Old Town and, unlike other years, will not make any stops on the way, except for the final proclamation at the Place de Neuve. The route: Parc des Bastions – Museum of Art and History – Rive – Rues basses – Bel-Air – Saint Gervais – Corraterie – Place de Neuve: proclamation.
🥁 In front of St Peter’s Cathedral
On Saturday and Sunday, the public will be able to watch demonstrations by halberdiers, fifes and drums. PLEASE NOTE: This will be the only fenced area accessible upon presentation of a pass.
🎁 Promenade St-Antoine
Grand Renaissance Market. No health pass required, but M3 will have a trailer for those who wish to be tested.
Book a tour
At the centre of the Escalade
As night falls, follow your guide through Streets and lanes as you set off in search of an historic landmark of 1602 which affirmed the independence of Geneva: the Escalade.
Public Guided tour: Ah ! La belle Escalade
A walking tour with a professional guide.
✨ Experience the Fête de l’Escalade weekend in Geneva 🌙All our special offers