When it comes to immersing yourself in the magic of the holiday season, few places compare to the enchanting Alsace region in northeastern France. Nestled along the picturesque Rhine River, Alsace is known for its charming villages, centuries-old traditions, and, most notably, its world-renowned Christmas markets.
Where is the Alsace?
Before we dive into the markets, let's get acquainted with the Alsace region. Nestled in the Grand Est of France, Alsace boasts a unique blend of French and German influences, thanks to its history of changing hands between the two countries. Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, is not only famous for its charming half-timbered architecture and white wines but also as the home of the European Union Parliament.
When it comes to Christmas markets, Alsace offers a distinct German Christmas market feel. Strasbourg, in particular, is renowned for hosting one of Europe's oldest Christmas markets, dating back to the 1500s. It's no wonder Strasbourg is called the Capital of Christmas, making the entire region a must-visit during the holiday season.
Strasbourg: The Capital of Christmas
Strasbourg Christmas Market – A Timeless Classic
Revered as the “Capital of Christmas,” Strasbourg boasts the oldest Christmas market in France and arguably the world. With its origins dating back to 1570, the Strasbourg Christmas Market transforms the city's historic center into a winter wonderland. Its iconic cathedral, adorned with twinkling lights, serves as the perfect backdrop for the festive atmosphere. Visitors can stroll through the quaint, cobblestone streets, admiring the artisanal crafts, savoring delicious Alsatian cuisine, and sipping on mulled wine, locally known as “vin chaud.”
The centerpiece is the 30 meter high, nearly 100 feet, Christmas tree at Place Kleber!
This majestic tree is a symbol of Strasbourg's commitment to preserving the essence of Christmas, a tradition that has endured for centuries.
The Strasbourg Christmas Market is more than just shopping; it's an experience that immerses you in the true spirit of the season. You can warm up with a steaming cup of “vin chaud” (mulled wine) or indulge in the city's famous “flammekeuche,” a delectable Alsatian flatbread. The market is also a showcase for local artisans, offering handmade ornaments, crafts, and traditional Alsatian products that make for memorable souvenirs.
Insider Tip: For an extra dose of magic, don't miss the Grande Île district, where you'll find the stunning Christmas tree at Place Kléber, towering over 100 feet.
2023 Dates: November 24 – December 24 2023
Colmar: A Fairytale Setting
Nicholas Square in Colmar – A Fairytale Christmas
Colmar, often referred to as a “Fairytale Town,” enchants visitors with its half-timbered houses and charming canals, creating a truly magical Christmas experience. The Colmar Christmas Market, spread across multiple locations, offers a diverse range of holiday festivities. Nicholas Square, in particular, captures the essence of the season with its dazzling lights, carousel rides, and delightful stalls selling handmade gifts.
2023 Dates: November 23 to December 29, 2023
Insider Tip: Explore the Old Town area, where the Maison Pfister and other historical landmarks are beautifully adorned for the holidays.
Mulhouse: The Contemporary Christmas
Marché de Noël in Mulhouse – Modern Festivities
For a more contemporary take on Christmas markets, head to Mulhouse. The Marché de Noël in Mulhouse brings a fresh and modern perspective to the traditional Alsatian celebrations. Here, you can find unique and innovative gifts, artisanal crafts, and an array of gastronomic delights. The market's focus on sustainability and eco-friendly practices adds a distinctive touch to the holiday experience.
2023 Dates: November 24 to December 27
Insider Tip: Check out the “Etoffe de Noël,” a market section dedicated to textiles and fabrics, perfect for unique holiday-themed clothing and decor.
Riquewihr: A Storybook Christmas
Riquewihr Christmas Market – A Journey Through Time
Riquewihr, a medieval gem nestled in the heart of the Alsace vineyards, offers visitors a chance to step back in time during the holiday season. The Riquewihr Christmas Market is known for its authentic atmosphere, featuring timber-framed buildings adorned with twinkling lights and decorations. Explore the market's narrow, winding streets, where you'll find local artisans showcasing their talents and regional specialties.
2023 Dates: November 25 to December 21
Insider Tip: Sip on some “Kougelhopf,” a traditional Alsatian cake, while soaking in the medieval ambiance of Riquewihr.
Ribeauvillé: A Medieval Wonderland
Ribeauvillé Christmas Market – A Journey into the Past
This is unlike any Christmas market I've EVER been to! The entire town dresses up, performs, sings, it's truly one of the coolest experiences.
You'll see performances, live animal processions, all like a real Medieval market in the Alsace! Ribeauvillé, another gem in the Alsace region, offers a unique journey into the past during the Christmas season. The Ribeauvillé Christmas Market captures the medieval charm of the town, with its narrow streets and half-timbered houses. Visitors can explore the stalls brimming with handcrafted gifts, enjoy local delicacies, and experience the magic of a bygone era.
Dates: Two dates only!!!
- 2 and 3 December 2023
- 9 and 10 December 2023
Insider Tip: It only happens TWO weekends! So plan accordingly.
Eguisheim: The Cradle of Alsatian Wine
Eguisheim Christmas Market – Where Wine Meets Winter
Eguisheim, known as the “Cradle of Alsatian Wine,” offers a Christmas market that combines the region's rich wine culture with festive celebrations. The Eguisheim Christmas Market takes place in the heart of the village, surrounded by charming vineyards. Visitors can sample exquisite Alsatian wines, explore the market's stalls filled with artisanal products, and enjoy the warm, welcoming atmosphere of this picturesque village.
2023 Dates: November 23 to December 13
Insider Tip: Taste the local “Crémant d'Alsace,” a sparkling wine that pairs perfectly with holiday cheer.
Kaysersberg: A Picturesque Christmas
Kaysersberg Christmas Market – Charming and Picturesque
Kaysersberg, with its postcard-worthy scenery, is a delightful destination during the holiday season. The Kaysersberg Christmas Market captures the essence of the Alsace region with its cozy ambiance and stunning backdrop of the Vosges Mountains. Stroll along the riverbanks, visit the medieval castle, and browse through the market's stalls, where local artisans offer their handmade treasures.
2023 Dates: November 23 to December 16
Obernai: A Medieval Gem
Obernai Christmas Market – Medieval Charm
Obernai, a true medieval gem of Alsace, offers a delightful Christmas market experience steeped in history. The Obernai Christmas Market exudes the charm of yesteryears with its half-timbered houses and cobbled streets. Visitors can explore the market's stalls, brimming with handmade crafts and regional specialties, and soak in the festive atmosphere while wandering through this picturesque town.
2023 Dates: November 23 to December 30
Insider Tip: Don't miss the illuminated facade of the Town Hall, a true highlight of Obernai's Christmas decorations.