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Alsace’s Christmas Markets
We can’t think of anything more quintessentially wintery in France than Christmas a stroll through the Christmas markets in Alsace. Twinkling lights, mulled wine, wooden chalets, and a festive atmosphere – Alsace’s Christmas markets are definitely one of the top things to do in France.
Set in some of the region’s most picturesque cities, towns, and villages, a visit to the Christmas markets in Alsace is both a shopping experience and a destination discovery.
Here, we list the best Christmas markets in Alsace, from Strasbourg to Mulhouse and beyond, as well as some ideas of Alsace Christmas itineraries by public and private transportation.
About Alsace, in Eastern France
Alsace is a historical region in Eastern France. Alsace’s capital is Strasbourg, which is also the capital of Grand Est, the new French region that comprises the historical regions of Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, and Lorraine. Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful cities in France, very easy to visit from Paris by the TGV train.
Located close to the border with Germany, the region of Alsace changed hands from Germany to France and vice-versa several times during the last centuries. That’s why visitors will find many German influences in Alsace, especially in the architecture, gastronomy, and in the Alsace Christmas markets.
Alsace is well-known for its wines, picturesque architecture, and Christmas markets but of course there’s much more! Head here for more articles on Alsace.
When to Visit the Best Christmas Markets in Alsace
The best Christmas markets in Alsace typically open during the last weekend in November and end New Year’s Day. In general, the chalets open as early as 9am in the morning and remain open until 9-10pm in the evening.
Obviously, on weekends, the Alsace Christmas markets are crazy busy, but it is also a fun and festive atmosphere. If you’re looking to avoid crowds as much as possible, try to visit the Christmas markets in Alsace on a weekday.
The Christmas markets in Alsace are one of the most popular things to do in France in winter so book your accommodation well in advance!
GOOD TO KNOW: The ensemble of Christmas Markets in Alsace, are working hard with the Prefecture and the Regional Health Agency to propose a 2020 edition adapted to the health context. Keep clicking for the latest information.
How to Get to the Alsatian Christmas Markets
From Gare de l’Est in Paris, it will take you less than 2 hours by TGV train to reach Strasbourg. Then from Strasbourg, you can reach most of the other towns and cities by regional trains.
Strasbourg is well connected by train with the neighbor countries. You can travel to Strasbourg by train from Luxembourg, Basel in Switzerland, Brussels in Belgium, and from many cities in Germany.
To go to Mulhouse from Paris, it will take you less than 3 hours by TGV train from Paris Gare de Lyon.
Trains to Colmar from Paris leave from Paris Gare de l’Est (2,5 hours) or Paris Gare de Lyon (3 hours). The train ride Lyon – Colmar takes 3 hours 18 minutes by TGV train.
It is possible to fly into the Strasbourg International Airport or into the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg but flight prices are high and only for a reduced number of destinations, most of them only during the summer. Most of the time, it is more convenient to fly to Paris and take a train to Strasbourg directly from the airport.
For extended trips, we recommend renting a car so you can also visit the Alsace Christmas markets in the smallest towns or explore other places along the Alsace Wine Route. If you need some inspiration, have a look at our road trip along the Alsace Wine Route, one of the best road trips in France.
Alsace Christmas Markets Itinerary
Strasbourg is France’s capital of Christmas and the best place to start your Alsace Christmas Markets itinerary. Strasbourg is also the best place to rent a car if you decide to do an Alsace road trip.
From Strasbourg, take a day trip to Obernai to visit its wonderful Christmas market.
Leave Strasbourg to Sélestat to visit its Villages de Noël. From Sélestat, you can visit the Christmas markets of Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr on day trips. Then, move to Colmar.
Colmar is a great base to explore the Christmas markets in the villages of the Alsace Wine Route, like Kaysersberg, or Eguisheim.
From Colmar, travel to Mulhouse to visit the last (but not least) Alsace Christmas market of this list.
Another option is to start from Mulhouse, and then travel north to Colmar to visit the city’s Christmas markets and then the markets in the villages around Colmar. After Colmar, move to Strasbourg for the grand finale, perhaps with a day trip to Obernai.
Strasbourg Christmas Markets
Strasbourg, the capital of Europe and Alsace, has a historical and architectural heritage which makes it the richest city in Alsace. Its city center developed on the banks of the River Ill, not far from the Rhine River, is part of the UNESCO world heritage.
Notre-Dame Cathedral is a wonder of Gothic art. The Petite-France district reveals its picturesque charm to visitors with its beautiful half-timbered Renaissance houses and pretty canals.
In addition, the city’s museums are particularly rich and interesting, the perfect place to learn more about the region of Alsace and its traditions. If you are visiting Strasbourg for the first time, we recommend this Strasbourg itinerary for 2 days.
The city of Strasbourg hosts the best Christmas market in France and also the oldest (since 1570). If you only have time for one Alsace Christmas market, then go to Strasbourg.
The Christmas events in Strasbourg start on 28 November 2020, with the giant Christmas tree and all the Christmas illuminations lit up. Then expect a city beautifully decorated and full of feel-good festiveness for all the family.
One of the unique things about Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is that it is actually made up of multiple markets, occupying the city’s central squares and selling everything from handmade decorations to traditional biscuits of Alsace and other yummy things. Each square is a separate market with a different theme.
Christkindelsmärik is the biggest Christmas Market in Strasbourg, and it is located at Place Broglie. Foodies will head to the Place du Marché-aux-Poissons and on the terrace of the Palais Rohan to discover Alsatian gastronomy during the festive days.
At nightfall, head to Place Kléber to admire the always impressive Christmas illuminations and the giant Christmas tree. For children, there are arts and craft workshops and an ice skating rink.
Obernai Christmas Market
- DATES: 21 November to 31 December 2020
- Book your hotel in Obernai
Located at only 28 km from Strasbourg, you are going to love Obernai. Nestled at the foot of Mont Sainte-Odile, Obernai delights visitors with its winding little streets and colorful half-timbered houses, notably on the Place du Marché, Rue du Marché, and Place de l’Etoile.
Don’t miss the Place du Marché, the beating heart of the historic town. Here, outstands the beautiful Hôtel de Ville, (15-16th centuries), the 60 meter Tour de la Chapelle, and the Halle aux Blés, recognizable by its pointed gable roof.
During the festive season, Obernai’s cobbled streets and Renaissance architecture are swathed with sparkling illuminations and decorations and it is wonderful to walk around the old town.
Obernai’s Christmas market is dedicated to Alsatian crafts and gastronomy and it is the perfect place to taste the local products in a magical setting. The Christmas market is centered around the Place du Marché, where you’ll find a giant Christmas tree, model village, and a Petit Train for kids. Then, stalls spread out into Place Neher, Place du Beffroi, and Place de l’Étoile, with the tourist office offering walking tours and biscuit-making workshops.
Villages de Noël in Sélestat
- DATES: 27 November to 30 December 2020
- Book your hotel in Sélestat
Located in the heart of Alsace, between Colmar and Strasbourg, the city of Sélestat is often underrated. And it is a pity because it has some remarkable buildings like the Humanist Library – one of the only two humanist libraries in Europe -, l’Arsenal Sainte-Barbe with its crenelated roof, or the Romanesque church of Sainte Foy.
Sélestat is also a great base for exploring the famous Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg and some picturesque Alsatian villages like Saint-Hippolyte, Bergheim, or Ribeauvillé.
DID YOU KNOW? Sélestat owns the oldest written record known to the world about the Christmas tree. We find this mention in an account book of the City dated 21 December 1521. This book is exhibited in the Humanist Library.
Sélestat’s Christmas market remains an intimate, authentic celebration, far from the crowds of Colmar or Strasbourg. Actually, in Sélestat they don’t talk about Christmas Markets but Christmas Villages (Villages de Noël), and they are located in two central squares: Place d’Armes and Place du Dr. Maurice Kubler on the forecourt of the Humanist Library.
But there’s more! Follow the Christmas tree marks on the floor and look for the different events, installations, and activities spread throughout the city center in a fairy tour route.
Ribeauvillé Christmas Market
- DATES: on weekends from 5 December to 13 December 2020
Located at the foot of the Vosges, the historic and wine-growing town of Ribeauvillé is one of the must-stops along the Alsace Wine Route.
When visiting Rbeauvillé, don’t miss the village’s Grand Rue, the charming half-timbered houses along it, and the remains of medieval fortifications overlooked by the ruins of the three castles of the counts of Ribeaupierre.
Be seduced by Ribeauvillé’s medieval Christmas market, a unique event that plunges visitors into a joyful medieval atmosphere. It is a bustling market, with peasants, traders, dancers, and strollers all in medieval costumes.
Most of the stalls are lined along the Grand Rue and they offer all kinds of crafts and also gourmet products, from sweet regional delicacies to wild boar on a spit, and of course beer and mulled wine.
Ribeauvillé’s medieval Christmas market is a journey back in time and a unique show for all the family.
Riquewihr Christmas Market
- DATES: on weekends from 28 November to 22 December 2020
- Book your Hotel in Riquewihr
Riquewihr is located in the heart of the Alsace Wine Route, 15 km from Colmar. Part of the Parc Naturel Régional des Ballons des Vosges and ideally nestled in the vineyards, Riquewihr is a cute, flowery village with a typically Alsatian character, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Every year, more than 2 million visitors visit Riquewihr to admire its beautiful heritage and visit its 3 museums: Musée de la Tour des Voleurs (with a torture chamber), Musée Hansi (with the artist’s personal objects), and Musée du Dolder.
The Riquewihr’s Christmas Market is one of the most magical, combining to perfection its wonderful architectural heritage with Christmas lights and decorations. This Christmas market is spread over two sites: Place Fernand Zeyer and along the Esplanade des Remparts near the town hall. On the first three weekends, the market is extended to Rue du Général de Gaulle.
Stroll through this fairytale Christmas market: the wooden chalets offer craft items, Christmas ornaments, and gift ideas. There are also chalets proposing gingerbread, pretzels, sweets, bredalas, pastries, and mulled wine.
Riquewihr received the distinction of ‘Christmas Towns and Villages.’ This label rewards the large-scale and quality events that are organized in Riquewihr throughout the Advent period.
Colmar Christmas Markets
Located in the center of Alsace, between the major cities Strasbourg and Mulhouse, Colmar is a must stop of any Alsace road trip. The city, of medium size, is frequently voted as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and it has many monuments and typical neighborhoods particularly beautiful and well highlighted.
You are going to love walking around Colmar, with its picturesque canals and half-timbered houses. In addition, Colmar has several interesting museums, including the very famous Unterlinden Museum or the museum dedicated to Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty who was born and raised in Colmar.
Colmar is another quaint place in Alsace revered for its annual Christmas Market. Actually, Colmar’s Christmas market is voted year after year one of the best Christmas markets in Europe!
A sublime “light path” takes the visitors to discover the six Christmas markets, each nestled in an idyllic setting and with its own identity and theme. Depending on the Christmas market, you will find stalls of Christmas decorations, gourmet food, crafts, even a children’s market.
Apart from the Christmas markets, there are many cultural & tourist activities spread around the town so once you arrive at Colmar, we recommend heading to the Tourist Information for the full program of activities and a map with the locations.
One of the best things to do at the Colmar Christmas market is to see the illuminations on Friday and Saturday nights. The colors attract lots of “oohs” and “aahs” as half-timbered medieval houses become illuminated.
Kaysersberg Christmas Market
- DATES: on weekends from 27 November to 20 December 2020
- Book your Hotel in Kaysersberg
Kaysersberg is one of the best-known wine villages on the Alsace Wine Route. This small village is nestled at the entrance of a Vosges Valley, at only a few kilometers from Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr.
You are going to love Kaysersberg, with its beautiful historic center, its many half-timbered houses from the 15th – 16th centuries, and a unique fortified bridge built in 1514 in pink sandstone from the Vosges. Kaysersberg means “the Emperor’s mountain” and the imperial castle that dominates the city has an incredible charm.
Even if the Kaysersberg Christmas market is lesser-known than the neighboring markets, it is worth a detour for its authenticity and traditional character. This Alsatian Christmas market is nestled in an authentic and picturesque setting at the foot of the castle ruins.
Discover Kaysersberg’s Christmas market, and enjoy its festive and joyful atmosphere. Meet the craftsmen, carefully selected to display their original creations in the thirty or so small chalets. This Christmas market only takes place during the four weekends of Advent.
Eguisheim Christmas Market
- DATES: from 27 November to 30 December 2020 (except 24, 25 and 26 December)
Eguisheim is one of the most beautiful and typical villages of Alsace. The town has a picturesque setting, surrounded by hills covered with vineyards and overlooked by the Trois-Châteaux which watch over it. Eguisheim is located at only 5km from Colmar.
Explore this charming village, with the castle of the Counts in the central square and its half-timbered houses. Some are decorated with magnificent oriel windows or balconies with sculpted galleries. In the village, there are also two pretty Renaissance fountains dating from the 16th century.
Since 2010, Eguisheim has the label “Christmas Towns and Villages”. This coveted label rewards the enhancement of the architectural and cultural heritage of the medieval city.
Eguisheim is not a big village and the Eguisheim Christmas market is therefore intimate, renowned for its atmosphere and authenticity. It takes place at Place du Marché des Saules and Place Mgr Stumpf. In both places, you will find around thirty artisans and designers who come to present their creations in pretty wooden chalets all sparkling with light.
Mulhouse Christmas Market
Located in the south of Alsace, Mulhouse is the second-largest city in the region. The city has a beautiful central square with the Hôtel de Ville and the surrounding streets have some charming half-timbered houses.
However, Mulhouse’s main attractions are the museums of the Automobile and Railway. These two top museums reflect the history of the city, strongly marked by industry.
Explore Mulhouse’s traditional Christmas market – the Wianachtsmarkt – in the heart of the historic center. This is the third most visited Alsace Christmas market only after Strasbourg and Colmar.
The originality of the Mulhouse Christmas Market is to involve fabrics and textile creation in the decoration of the event. Mulhouse is the cradle of the textile industry in Alsace, also known for the production of the beautiful Christmas fabric. Each year the city produces this wonderful fabric to decorate facades and pedestrian streets around the Christmas market.
Mulhouse’s Christmas market and festive events attract lots of people so – just like for Strasbourg and Colmar – it is recommended to book your accommodation well in advance.
What to Buy in the Alsatian Christmas Markets
In general, the craftsmen who participate in the Alsatian Christmas markets are carefully selected: ceramists, potters, master glassmakers, cabinet makers, woodcarvers, hatters, and other creators who have inherited the know-how of an entire region.
When you visit the best Christmas markets in Alsace, expect only original and quality products like Christmas decorations, original gifts, or beautiful jewelry and accessories.
What to Eat & Drink in the Alsace Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets in Alsace are a great place to taste the regional products. Look out for tasty local specialties like tarte flambée, pretzels, bredeles (Christmas biscuits), and mannele (brioche gingerbread men). Depending on where you go, you will find more local specialties like the wild boar on a spit in Ribeauvillé.
Being a wine region, don’t miss the vin chaud – mulled wine – to warm you up. This hot wine is slightly spicy, smells of cinnamon and tastes really good.
Beer lovers will be happy to know that there are many micro-breweries in Alsace producing excellent beers. Water drawn from the groundwater, barley malt, yeast, and hops (for the bitter flavor) are the ingredients of Alsace beer, which is mainly lager. There are several types of beer available including seasonal beer. The Christmas beer, for example, is a slightly darker ale.
And if you need a break from the Christmas crowds, the winegrowers are always open for wine tastings and some shopping.