Alsace

Strasbourg Christmas Markets

In the capital of Alsace, the Christmas markets are one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year: over 300 wooden chalets with magical illuminations and enchanting decorations.
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The Strasbourg Christmas Market is considered to be one of the oldest in Europe and has been held every year between the end of November and 31 December since 1570.

Like Colmar’s Christmas Market, Strasbourg‘s Chriskindelsmarik (Baby Jesus Market) envelops the whole city in a magical festive atmosphere, with decorations on all the façades of the half-timbered houses, colourful illuminations, the scent of cinnamon and mulled wine.

Every corner of the city is filled with magic with sound and light shows, concerts for adults and children, traditional music and songs, resounding through the streets sparkling with lights and colours. Every year, visitors immerse themselves in a fairytale atmosphere, browsing through the many stalls of Christmas decorations, sampling traditional delicacies and admiring the splendour of the illuminations.

Strasbourg Christmas market dates

The Strasbourg Christmas markets tend to take place from the last weekend in November to the end of December, every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.. Only on Fridays they close at 9pm and on Saturdays at 10pm.

They usually operate reduced hours on 24 December (until 6 p.m.) and close on the 25th, Christmas Day. From 26 to 31 December, only the markets near the cathedral remain active.

Detailed and up-to-date information can be found on the Official Website.

Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg’s Christmas markets

Since 1870, the Strasbourg Christmas Market has been held in the most important squares and streets of the old town, in the Cathedral district. From Place Broglie1, the magical atmosphere of Christmas radiates in Place de la Cathédrale2, Rue de la Comédie3, Place de la Gare4 and Place Kléber5: all the corners of the centre are literally invaded by dozens of wooden chalets displaying all kinds of Christmas decorations, of magnificent craftsmanship. A riot of balls, lights, garlands and nativity characters.

On the stalls of local producers and craftsmen, you can find ornaments for the home and many gifts for young and old, including Alsatian gastronomic specialities such as pain d’épices and manneles, the traditional Christmas sweets that perfume the air with their spicy aromas.

Off Market

The Petite France district also boasts its own Christmas market. At Place Grimmeissen6 there is a version with fair trade products.

Here you will find objects produced by ethical and socially responsible companies: the theme is sustainability, ecology, the use of natural fibres for objects and clothing, 0 km or exquisitely organic food, artistic creations and furniture made from reused materials. There are also concerts, craft workshops and cultural events.

The Alsatian Farmers’ Christmas Market

If you are looking for typical local specialities from all corners of the region, then you should head to the picturesque Place des Meuniers7.

This is where the Alsatian Farmers’ Market takes place, where you will find a wide range of 100% local and artisanal products: from fine chocolate to jams, from honey to typical Alsatian Christmas biscuits, from Christmas beers to the finest wine.

The Christmas Trees

What makes a visit to the Strabourg Christmas markets truly unique are the illuminations, scattered along all the streets of the old town and the numerous Christmas trees, the very symbol of the festivities.

The most important and popular among the population is the imposing Christmas Tree on Place Kléber, 30 metres high and adorned with glittering decorations. The magic and charm begins at nightfall, when the tree lights up to the sound of music, illuminating the entire square and the skating rink, packed with children.

There are two other large Christmas trees scattered around the city: theParticipatory Tree at Place du Marché Gayot8, which anyone can decorate by adding their own contribution (cards, decorations, balls or messages of good wishes) and the Alternative Tree in place Grimmeissen.

The illuminations

During the Advent period, Strasbourg is bathed in a truly magical and atmospheric atmosphere at nightfall. Millions of lights and Christmas decorations are lit up to provide the inhabitants and visitors with an enchanted scene.

Rue des Orfèvres9 is certainly the most photographed street in Strasbourg at Christmas. You will be amazed by the decorations on the façades and shops.

On the other hand, Rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons10 is the Gate of Lights: a magical entrance into the world of Christmas fairy tales welcomes visitors with the huge inscription ‘Strasbourg, capital of Christmas’ and festively lit little men.

Making Rue Mercière11, the street that leads out in front of Strasbourg Cathedral, magical are the Christmas angels, the quintessential symbol of this evocative period.

Even the Petite France district, intimate and cosy, shows all its Christmas charm, especially at Place Benjamin Zix12, a small, cosy square.

Let’s not forget that Strasbourg is built on canals: during the Christmas festivities, the lights are reflected on the water, creating magical fairy-tale effects, as in Quai des Bateliers13, adorned with many luminous stars.

Nativity scenes

In Alsace, the Christmas tradition is felt vividly and authentically, as the many Christmas markets scattered throughout the territory demonstrate every year. In addition to decorations, trees and illuminations, nativity scenes are also a part of the Christmas magic that is widespread and loved by the population.

Nativity scenes can be found in every corner of Strasbourg, but the most famous is certainly the one set up at Strasbourg Cathedral14, which can be visited every day until 2 February. Large and majestic, it represents the five highlights of the Christian Christmas: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi and the Presentation in the Temple.

The most moving is the Living Nativity Scene at Place du Château15, which takes place with costumed actors on certain days in November and December from 3pm to 6pm.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Origins of the Strasbourg Christmas market

Chronicles of the time tell us that the first Christkindelsmärik (i.e. the Baby Jesus market) took place in Place de la Cathédrale in 1570. Following the accession of Alsace to Protestantism, after a long period of German domination, the market replaced the old Klausenmärik (St Nicholas’ market).

The event used to take place during the three days before Christmas, so that the inhabitants of Strasbourg could shop for festive clothes and provisions for the Christmas season. A chronicle from 1605 tells how the first Christmas trees were decorated: the inhabitants hung multicoloured paper roses, apples, sugar and glittering objects.

Over time, the market has become more and more famous and popular: it has gradually expanded and its duration has been extended to almost 30 days.

Book hotels and restaurants in advance

We recommend that you book your accommodation well in advance! The Strasbourg Christmas market is a victim of its own success, so accommodation in the centre, but also in the surrounding area, starts being booked very early.

If you can, visit the Christmas market on weekdays. It will be much easier to walk through its streets and fully enjoy the magic of the markets.

Finally, if you want to eat in a specific restaurant, always remember to book at least 1 day in advance.

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