Our winter season opens officially the middle of November when skiers can test their ski legs on the slopes of the Matterhorn and on the Italian side in Cervinia. This is the quiet time of the year in the village. The few visitors spend their days walking the lower paths which are not yet covered with snow, and appreciating the village atmosphere as how it must have been before winter tourism began after the Second World War.
From the middle of December onwards, visitors from all over the world arrive to add colour to the international atmosphere. Many winter visitors do not ski. They come here to benefit from the exhilarating mountain air, wander the narrow cobbled streets and hill paths, admire the breath-taking Matterhorn and enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere on the Bahnhofstrasse with its many shops and restaurants. Maybe one day they decide to take Europe's highest cableway up to the Klein Matterhorn, to look over into Italy and on a clear day all the way to the Mont Blanc, or to walk up to one of the hamlets above the village where cosy mountain bistros serve local dishes accompanied by a carafe of local Valais wine. The horse-drawn taxi on the narrow streets enhance the fairy-tale atmosphere.
After the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year has passed, some calm returns to the valley. It is easy to imagine the village that the first climbers discovered when they came out here in the middle of the last century. January is the curler's month and many visitors come to watch the daily events on the ice rink in the centre of the village.
The longer days of February and March bring thousands of skiers to the slopes. These are also the months for the alpine sun-worshippers and those who are fleeing the cold damp climates of northern Europe. This area is well known as the sunniest area of Switzerland.
The mists that block out the sun in the plains are unknown here. Until a couple of weeks after Easter, Zermatt is in full swing. Late April and May are the months for spring skiing on the glaciers high above the village. Occasionally the snow conditions are better than all winter, as the vagaries of April's weather deposit an unexpected blanket of snow on a village that was already showing the modest signs of spring.
However, by the end of April, the lower slopes will have lost their blanket of snow and crocuses will shyly poke their heads through the ground. Zermatt is breathing easily after another winter season in which she has played host to thousands of visitors from five continents. June is the month for wild flowers. The alpine roses present a lush red carpet decorating the wooded hillsides above the village. The serious walkers are returning and Zermatt prepares itself for the lovely alpine summer.
By July the summer is in full swing. In the early mornings, groups of visitors are on their way to the cable-car stations to make the most of summer skiing on a glacier. Hikers with their rucksacks set out for a day in the mountains. The more leisurely visitors enjoy a breakfast on a sunny restaurant terrace before planning their day. Day trippers pour from the trains and make their way up the main street eager for a first glimpse of the fabled Matterhorn. "Goat traffic" through the village mornings and evenings is a huge tourist attraction! Many of September's visitors return year after year to Zermatt. The valley almost invariably has long sunny autumns which frequently extend into November. On the occasional rainy day in late autumn it is fascinating to watch the snow line gradually creeping further down the mountains, until one morning, a sprinkling of snow covers the meadows around the village and Zermatt knows that once again she will be having a white Christmas.