L'Escalade © Lionel Martinez
Of all the festivals that take place in Geneva, none rival the pomp and ceremony of L'Escalade, which is one of the oldest and most popular events in the city. The festival is a patriotic celebration of the city's independence, the Genevese equivalent of Guy Fawkes Day, and commemorates the vain attempt by the Duke of Savoy's troops to invade the old walled city in 1602.
Many legends surround the historic event, most famously the tale of Mother Royaume, who emptied her large cauldron of hot vegetable soup on the attackers below. An Escalade custom consists of selling cups of hot vegetable soup in the streets, and the windows of confectioners and sweet shops display chocolate and nougat pots decorated with the colours of Geneva and filled with marzipan vegetables.
The highlight of the festival is the torchlight procession through the Old Town by participants in period costume, with musketeers, horsemen, pipers and drummers, to the accompaniment of crackers and gun salutes. Many people appear in fancy dress and the carnival atmosphere is enjoyed by all.
Venue: Old City
Date: 8 - 10 December 2017