Winter made a little appearance last weekend. After two weeks of radiant sun, clouds came and left a little bit of snow even in Zurich. But that didn’t stop us. I’m still longing for white winter landscapes! And with that in mind, we went to a place we have visited a few times already but never disappoints: Kandersteg and the magical alpine lake Oeschinensee (you can see here photos from Oeschinensee in winter and summer).

We couldn’t have chosen a better day for this trip. Since 2010, the little mountain village of Kandersteg celebrates the “Belle Epoque Woche“, a week that makes you feel as if you had traveled back in time to the beautiful Belle Epoque era (1884-1914). It’s a whole week full of events, where villagers and visitors alike dress in Victorian clothes (women wear long skirts, furs and beautiful hats while men dress in top hats and tails). There are formal dinners, parades, sport events (such as sled races using old fashioned sleds or skiers using wooden skies) and there’s even a Belle Epoque Ball!! And seeing all of this with the snow covering the pretty village just adds more magic to the experience. We didn’t stay long to see all those events, as we went only the first day of the Belle Epoque Woche. But it was quite fun to see all the people around us dressed in historical dresses while they were walking around the market selling beautiful Victorian hats and objects from the beginning of the XX century. It really felt as if we were in another time!

After exploring the Belle Epoque market, we took the gondola to Oeschinensee. At almost 2000m of altitude, the low clouds were playing with the peaks around us, hiding and uncovering them, letting the light come and go in a magical way, while a strange and beautiful blue hue covered part of the mountains. We walked through the beautiful snowed forest that precedes the lake, we hiked up to get better views of the lake and the mountains from above and we finally walked on the frozen lake before we had lunch in the Berghaus by the lake. When we went to take the gondola back to the valley, the sun was still illuminating the impressive Blüemlisalp while the clouds closed above us and the snow started to fall. Sun and snow falling, it was one of my favorite moments of this trip.

Here are some of the photos I took in Kandersteg and beautiful Oeschinensee. I hope you like them!


  1. Theses Belle Epoque portraits are fantastic Mercedes. The eyes, the fairness of the skin, the luxury of the outfits… many such details stand out, and the modern world is easily forgotten. Well done for these magic photos.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Véro!! So happy you liked the portraits!! Specially since this is not the kind of photos that I usually take, hehehe (I don’t feel very confortable photographing strangers!). But it was a special occasion and I wanted to capture a bit of its magic 🙂 Such a pity I didn’t have a lot of time to stay in the village during the events (as John Muir would have said, mountains were calling and I had to go)… But knowing how beautiful the Belle Epoque week of Kandersteg is, next year I’ll repeat the experience!! 🙂

      • You should definitely do more portraits. You’re good with humans too 😆!

        • mercedescatalan

          Do you think so?? I’m super shy and I’m the worst when I’m the one in front of the camera… And I tend to think that others feel the same way when I take their photos, hehehe. I love to try at these kind of events, it’s always good to challenge yourself with these kind of exercises 🙂

  2. Expectacular Mercedes !!!

  3. Winter light – a stunning shot.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil Amanda!! That was one of the most beautiful moments that day… when the strange blue clouds opened and let the sun light up the mountains… I always smile when these things happen and I have my camera with me! I know I will smile again when I see the photos in my laptop later 😊
      Have a great week!!

      • They would be best vierwed in wide screen!

        • mercedescatalan

          Well, the blog design adapts well to phone and tablets screens but… nothing better than a computer to watch photos, right? You can appreciate more the details!!! And best of all, printed in good nice paper!!! 😁

          • Photos like this would be great as a wall canvas too!

          • Sure they do!!! Although, after trying canvas, poster, aluminium and other materials, for me the best is fine art paper. The quality of the printers and the paper are way superior than the other! It’s not cheap, but photos look incredibly beautiful in good paper 🙂 And I love how photos look in frames, hehehe

          • Good choice. I can understand why to would print them on good paper. Framing costs a bit though?

          • Well, I guess it all depends on the type of framing. My home is a mix of Nordic and mid-century style, so finding nice simple frames is not that difficult or expensive. More problematic is find a printer that works with standard frame sizes!! I found one in Madrid that prints photos in exactly the size I want, so my lastest prints came in my baggage from Madrid, hehehe I haven’t tried yet in Switzerland, I think my German is still to bad to being able to discuss sizes and qualities with a Swiss, hehehe (not to mention the price!!!)

          • Of course- that would be difficult! Printers seem to have a mind of their own at times too. Lol

          • At least this is my experience!! A year ago I was looking for a place to print a photo in a large size… well, all those websites where you can print your photos in lots of formats, they don’t have standard sizes for the big frames that you can find in deco-shops!! If you don’t want to spend lots of money in tailor made frames, it’s quite a challenge to print in big sizes and frame the photo!

  4. Wonderful winter landscape! It seems that you made a time travel back to the Belle Epoque. I think those Victorian outfits march perfectly with the cold weather. I believe that they can hardly survive the summer in that clothes 😛

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Len! So happy you liked the photos! Yes, the whole atmosphere in Kandersteg can make you feel like if you have travelled 100 years in the past… the alpine town is gorgeous, with beautiful wood traditional houses… the snow, the people wearing Victorian clothes, the music… everything was so perfect!! Such a pity I couldn’t spend more time photographing the whole event (hopefully next year!!), because this Belle Epoque Week is something very unique!
      About the cold…. Even if they were wearing thermal clothes under the Victorian dresses and the lucky ones wore fur clothes, I’m sure they were cold!! It was -10º that day in the valley (way colder up at the frozen lake)… hehehe. I read that there are two days in summer when people also celebrate this “Belle Epoque” thing… Probably the summer temperature in the mountains is more bearable with Victorian clothes 🙂

      • I forgot that it’s much colder in the mountains 😛 I think the locals spent a lot of time to prepare for this event. All those outfits look really fancy.

        • mercedescatalan

          Specially that day, it was pretty cold!!! Hehehe And yes, I think they put a lot of love in these things. It’s something that I love about these kind of events in Switzerland. They don’t look commercial, you don’t see lots of alcohol involved, you see the whole families participating and having a good time… it’s very simple and naive and beautiful! 🙂

  5. Outstanding post Mercedes! I loved it all. The beautiful clothes and the street photography. This celebration seems to be much less commercial than Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas. I guess I’m saying that because of the street full of vendors at the Nevada City Event. It was like that was all there was to do–buy stuff! Maybe this celebration was the same. Take care!

    • mercedescatalan

      So happy you liked the photos, Anne!! 🙂
      I wish I would had more time to photograph the “festival” (not sure if that’s the appropriate word for the event)… we arrived just when it was starting and we missed many interesting things (like when a steam train came with passengers all dressed in Victorian clothes)…
      But what impressed more was exactly what you guessed. It wasn’t a commercial event!! Well, hotels in the town organize special dinners and a special ball… but apart from that, there wasn’t a lot of food stalls apart from the typical wintry roast chestnut stall… and the few others that sold stuff (three or four, no more) were actually selling antique winter sports equipment, elaborated Victorian hats or some fur clothes… But it didn’t feel like a flea market or like a Christmas market. People were just having fun strolling around with their historical dresses, having a glass of glühwein or champagne and posing for photos 🙂 I think the Belle Epoque Week was a very fun event!!!

  6. Wow! I’m looking forward to next year’s images. Now you have to go back! It’s so nice when the commercialism is gone from a festival and it’s pure fun.

    • mercedescatalan

      I hope so!!! This time we went with some friends… I love hiking with friends, but usually having company is not the best thing when you want to take photos, specially in a cold day! Hehehe. I don’t know why, but I need some “warm up” before I feel confortable photographing people… I didn’t have that time, so the few photos I took are not the greatest, hehehe. But now I have a reason to come back next year!! Knowing what I’ll find, I’m sure it’ll be easier to take better photos of the event! 🙂

  7. I love street photography, especially candid shots. From what I’ve read, use a small camera, situate yourself in one spot and wait for the people to come by, one photographer suggested shooting from the hip, taking lots of shots. I’m too short for that technique!!! This is where having a flip screen on the back of the camera would come in handy. When I go out for just street photography, I take my smaller D3100, put it on aperture priority and shoot away. I still need lots of practice and to get over taking pictures without permission. Again, can’t wait for next year’s post!

    • mercedescatalan

      Well, I wasn’t carrying the small camera… I was using the Canon 5D (it’s quite big) and a telephoto lens (100-400mm… just imagine the size…). So I wasn’t exactly an incognito street photographer that day, hehehe. I guess it’s not the same as photographing a parade, for example. You get there early, find a nice spot and wait for the parade to come to you… In this event, people were moving in all directions, chatting in circles… it wasn’t that easy for me! I think I should stick to landscape and wildlife 😛

  8. Love the lady with the pram! 🙂 🙂 I’m not really one for snow but it does look a pretty location, and that reflection shot is wonderful.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Jo!! So glad you liked the photos! Kandersteg is mostly a resort village… a few alpine farms, holiday homes and hotels. But it’s very pretty, with all its traditional wooden buildings, it’s quite picturesque! And the snow is just the perfect addition to the already beautiful place. This Belle Epoque week is something very recent, this was the 10th edition… but it just adds even more charm to the place for one week!!!

  9. Mercedes, yes, that’s a lot of gear to be tip toeing through the crowd, taking pictures! But don’t give up on it. You capture such great people shots.

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