The Escalade is a colourful costume festival the most popular in Geneva taking place every December as a celebration of brave defence of Genevans from the attack of Duke of Savoy’s army.
On the 11th of December 1602 the darkest night of the year Duke of Savoy attempted to surprise-attack the state of Geneva with his army. The Duke’s idea was to let his best soldiers secretly climb (in French is “escalade”) over Geneva’s walls to get hold of the city gate from inside, open it and let the troops in. There is a legend about a woman called Catherine Cheynel. It says that while cooking a soup, she noticed the attackers approaching from below and poured a large cauldron of hot soup on them while they were climbing on the walls. The noise awakened the entire city and its militia successfully defended Geneva from the enemies.
In memory of the event at the beginning of the winter this old city of Switzerland comes back in the days of the past. Genevans dress up in the fashion of the XVII century. Parades of famous Swiss mercenaries in uniform and armed take place on the central streets. The music of the Renaissance and ancient dances are performed on the squares in the flame-light.
A symbol of the Escalade holiday is the soup of that woman who awakened the city, but as Switzerland, Geneva including, is all about chocolate, the vegetable soup pot was replaced by the chocolate pot and the shops gets filled with all kinds and sizes of them.
Definitively an event you have to attend when in Geneva, as history is the best way to know a city through, and l’Escalade is full of it.
Friday 9th: 6 pm to 7.30 pm: Tribute to victims procession from old town to Saint-Gervais.
Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th: activities in old town.
Sunday 11th: 5 pm to 8.30 pm: Great historical procession.