December festivals: Switzerland’s chocolate festival

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By Karen Hart

Use a Swiss chocolate festival as the starting point for making sweet treats.

As if there wasn’t enough chocolate eaten over Christmas, Swiss folk have come up with an excuse to eat even more! During l’Escalade, the city’s largest festival, marzipan filled ‘marmites en chocolat’ (chocolate cauldrons) are smashed apart and shared amongst townsfolk. The l’Escalade celebrations carry on well into the evening, with torchlight processions through the old town and an enormous bonfire being lit in the cathedral square.

The l’Escalade festival actually commemorates an historical event that took place on 11th December 1602, when, according to popular legend, a housewife foiled an attempted attack by the Duke of Savoy by tipping a pot of boiling soup over a trooper’s head before whacking him with her marmite (cauldron) and raising the alarm throughout the city.

The l’Escalade festival is traditionally preceded a few days earlier by the l’Escalade run, in which around 20,000 runners come together for an 8km jog around the old town – plus a fancy dress run for those wishing to run in their own style.


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